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What is Job Sharing?

written by: Vikas Vij•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 1/5/2011

Need to know what job sharing is and how it can be useful for your organization? If used effectively, job sharing can lead to higher productivity and improved employee motivation and retention for your organization.

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    Job Sharing: Flexible Working Hours for Employees

    1 It is important for employers to understand what job sharing is and how it can benefit their organization. Job sharing is an innovative employment arrangement that typically involves two people to perform a single job by dividing their working hours. It generally makes use of part-time workers to carry out the job responsibilities that would normally be performed by a single full-time employee. Compensation is divided proportionately between the job sharers depending on their time spent or output produced. Job sharing is a conscious HR strategy adopted by certain organizations in specific situations.

    For instance, the job of an Administrative Assistant may be divided between two employees. One may work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the other may work on Tuesday and Thursday. The compensation will be divided proportionately according to the number of days worked. Another good example of job sharing is that of a Community Health Nurse. It may be divided between two employees who work five days consecutively by rotation. So the work cycle becomes five days on and five days off. Similarly, in a banking job, two employees may share a day's work, with the first employee working from 9 am to 1 pm and the second employee from 1 pm to 5 pm.

    Photo Credit: www.sxc.hu Eastop

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    Origins of Job Sharing

    The concept of job sharing evolved in the 1970s and 80s when more and more women began to take up employment opportunities. This concept suited them ideally because it allowed for a reasonable balance between home responsibilities and professional work for a woman, especially for working mothers.

    In the 21st century, job sharing has gained even more popularity and it has extended to men as well in equal numbers. Education, insurance, banking and hospitality sectors are using job sharing most effectively. Due to the perceived benefits of this concept from both employer and employee’s perspectives, it creates a win-win opportunity for the organization.

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    Advantages of Job Sharing

    Many employers are open to any ideas that can enhance the quality of life of their employees. There is usually a direct link between an employee’s personal life and his performance at work. Job sharing provides an opportunity for the employee to have more free time and lead a contented life. This results in higher productivity at work because the employee works for fewer hours and achieves peak performance levels. An extra number of hours may only result in diminishing productivity levels.

    Some candidates are willing to work at a lower pay if they are given the advantage of part-time work or flexible working hours. So the business organization can try to reduce its manpower costs through an effective system of job sharing. Furthermore, there are certain complex jobs that may be accomplished more effectively as a team. So the concept of job sharing is ideally suited for such situations.

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    Challenges of Job Sharing

    This concept has some inherent advantages for the organization, but also poses certain challenges. It is not easy to successfully execute a single full-time job by sharing it between two individuals. The organization needs to find interested employees who are willing to share the job and at the same time their suitability for the job should also match.

    The second challenge is how to fix accountability and responsibility for the job. Each job has its complexities and it is difficult to pin-point responsibility on the job sharers singularly. Furthermore, the job sharers may feel lesser motivated by the fact that “nobody is in-charge.” There may be leadership issues between the two employees sharing the job. In customer service oriented jobs, the challenge may be that the customer has to cope with distinct styles of two different employees.