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In recent months I’ve been asked to assist with planning, facilitating and promoting changes in working patterns. The pandemic has caused seismic shifts to standard working patterns. Staff are working from home, teams are remote working, redundancies and furlough have meant that job roles are changing and flexing.

In many sectors job-sharing was an unusual form of flexible working.  However, job-shares give employers access to a wider talent pool, makes teams more resilient, improves staff retention and can increase diversity in a team.  The company benefits from two different skillsets and the employees benefits from higher levels of wellbeing compared with people that work full time or part time.

There is no doubt that this is a challenging time for business leaders. However, there are some clear ways to have a positive impact on your workforce.

Communication is Key

From the outset, it’s really important to be clear about your objectives and to have open and transparent communication with all those involved.  The key to success with any change is communication, but this is especially important when you are expecting staff to change the way they work.

If you spend time planning the change, job-sharing can be great both for the company and for the staff involved.  Get it wrong and it can be costly and inconvenient for the business. If you’re thinking about consolidating job-roles, stop, plan, and communicate with staff.

Job Share or Job Split?

Fundamentally, what is it that you are trying to achieve? Do your staff want to work flexibly? Do you have fewer staff to cover key processes?  A ‘job split’ is a very different thing. This is often call the ‘islands model’ where the work is split and people take responsibility for specific tasks.  A true job-share is where the workload is seen as one role and you simply divide up the days (often with a bit of overlap to help with handover). This is called the “twins model” and is often the simpler of the two.

The model you choose will depend on the nature of the job and the preferences and skills each member of staff brings to the role.

Engagement

To ensure individual commitment and to adequately scope the project, 1:1 meetings with the relevant staff members entering the job share are critical. There are some key topics which need to be addressed and discussed:

  • Commitment to the job-share
  • Communication (both with each other and stakeholders)
  • Skills and working preferences
  • Contractual considerations
  • Flexibility

From there, you can have a wider planning meeting with all concerned parties to address any concerns and set out a plan for the new way of working. Having the 1:1 meetings gives each party the chance to air any concerns they may have. It also gives them space and time to think about their priorities for the role.  If there is a clash of personalities, or potential conflicts of interest it’s best to discuss them from the start and manage the issues.

If you manage the process from the start, encouraging clear and open communication, job sharers will be clear about the expectations on them and their expectations of each other. This enables them to present a united front to the wider organisation.