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Competence diversity due to job sharing

07/09/2021 2021/09

What is high on the wish list of employees? Flexible working hours, because this makes it easier to combine work and leisure. A 40-hour week with core working hours is not feasible or desirable for many people. However, many who have to or want to reduce their working hours for a variety of reasons often only have the option of part-time work, which usually also entails financial losses. Despite the legal obligation, many employers are reluctant to set up part-time positions, as there is often nevertheless a higher workload and thus a need for hours worked. Here it is worthwhile to establish an innovative working time model: Job sharing is being used more and more in this context.

Companies such as SAP, Daimler and Bosch are also introducing job sharing at management level. What is job sharing? Basically, it is the division of a full-time position between two (or more) employees (job sharers or tandem partners). The employees fill the position together and not each a separate area. Time management is very flexible and the position does not have to be shared half and half. Depending on the wishes of the tandem partners, almost any combination is possible, from 60/40, 70/30 to 80/20.

Job sharing provides advantages for all parties involved

For employees, job sharing in principle offers the possibility of part-time work and flexible working hours. This leaves more time for private life for each sharer and contributes to a better work-life balance. But that is not all! This working time model is suitable for different hierarchical levels and highly qualified jobs. While part-time employment often puts many employees off, as they fear that less working time will mean less exciting projects to look after, this concern is not applicable in the case of job sharing with a tandem partner. Since the job is carried out jointly and the responsibility is shared, there is always the possibility to exchange ideas, to get advice, to learn from the partner and to positively influence the partner's learning process. Not infrequently, this also increases the employee's motivation. Ultimately, this makes for more job satisfaction.

From the company's point of view, job sharing offers even more advantages. Motivated, happy employees do better work, which essentially determines the company's success. In addition, the offer can improve the employer image - here, new paths are taken to enable the compatibility of career and private life. Another positive aspect is absenteeism, for example due to illness or holidays, which is almost zero in job sharing, as it can be assumed that one of the two partners is present and can compensate for the hours. A job that is shared by two people also has the advantage that the company has double the expertise at its disposal. The "egg-laying pillow" is within reach, as the competences of the employees complement each other harmoniously. Different perspectives can lead to better decisions. For example, a combination of a more numbers-oriented person and a more people-oriented person is conceivable in order to be able to fill a position with complex requirements in the best possible way. And let's be honest, there are still plenty of jobs today that regularly require more than 40 hours of work per week - ideally filled by two partners working closely together, each with 25-30 hours per week.

The size of the company plays a rather subordinate role in job sharing, because it is mainly functional areas whose tasks have a certain complexity that benefit from this concept. Examples include project management, key account management and marketing and sales, but also in the IT sector. The Tandemploy initiative offers a way for interested people to come together to form tandems - incidentally, also well suited for management positions to avoid a career break due to parental leave. For example, both bosses can be in the office on Wednesdays, one on Monday and Thursday, the other on Tuesday and Friday, and still have enough time for their families or other commitments.

Job sharing is often used in practice as a generic term for different models. Job sharing between two employees is the classic pure form. However, other forms exist under the term job sharing, such as job pairing. In this case, however, the employment contract of the tandem partners is concluded jointly and cannot be terminated by one party alone. The notice of termination must be submitted by both employees.

Jan shared himself in a way
"To me, working feels like it did before we spun out!"
"To me, working feels like it did before we spun out!"
©DW Deutsch
©DW Deutsch

Job Sharing at ARTS

The New Work megatrend in particular is constantly leading to new working time models, as the 4-day week also shows. The most diverse wishes, requirements, or general conditions can be adapted to the respective company or employee situation. 

ARTS also established an individual job-sharing form. However, no two people share one job, but our IT supporter Jan shared himself to a certain extent. As Senior IT Support Consultant he is responsible for the support and further development of our IT infrastructure. Already in 2011 Jan became part of the ARTS family and remained our contact person even after the spin-off of our IT department to the independent IT start-up manaTec, with the focus on ERP, Business Intelligence, and IT support. 

What does "Jan sharing" look like? Three days a week he is with us at our office in Dresden. He's the most popular employee besides the coffee machine, because he gets everything in order again when something doesn't work. His area of responsibility includes first-level support and second-level support. On the other two days, Jan is at manaTec and takes care of their internal affairs. Before Jan split his time between ARTS and manaTec, the support was much more complex for everyone involved. For each request, it was necessary to write a ticket. A flexible problem solution was not possible this way. The job sharing made this much easier. Jan is now available to all colleagues in three days. He can take care of all issues that arise, even those with lower priority. At the same time, he can act independently of the budget. But this also increases personal responsibility, because Jan can manage his own time and keep to his working hours.

The solution arose from the needs of us as ARTS, as well as manaTec. Both sides wanted to simplify the process, but a full-time position was not conceivable. The option to work part-time for two different employers has the disadvantage in German tax law that one of the two jobs is automatically taxed with income tax class 6. The colleague, therefore, has to pay taxes between 50-60%, which was neither an attractive nor reasonable alternative for us. To solve this problem and to be able to use Jan in both companies, a new solution had to be created. Now we share the costs in a two to three ratio.

While the model may sound tempting, it is not suitable for everyone. Classic job sharers need a high degree of trust, excellent communication skills, organizational talent, and a large portion of self-reflection. For Jan, too, the new model means above all more self-management to structure his resources in the best possible way. Many companies see job sharing primarily as a way of reducing labor costs, although the advantages are obvious. We stand behind the basic idea and also see the advantages described above in practice. 

In this process, which we are still going through today, we have developed the best solution for us at the moment. But we also know that there is no one-fits-all strategy. Every company is, in our opinion, unique. It requires individual consideration of processes and structures to create real added value in the working world of the future. Similar to job sharing, double competence is the key factor for success. ARTS supports you and your organization during the transformation - from analysis to sustainable anchoring.

Sources: karrierebibel.de | tendemply.com | zeit.de | handelsblatt.com | lohn-info.de | wiwo.de | karrieremarshal.de

About the Author
Nadia Döhler | Organisational & HR Consulting
Nadia Döhler
Transformation Consultant

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