Job sharing - new work time model

14/02/2019 Career Advice

Part-time of the future?

Flexible working hours are often highly rated on the list of wishes by potential employees, as they make it easier to combine work and leisure. A 40-hour week with core working hours offers only limited flexibility. Employees who either have to or want to reduce their working hours are often left with just the option of part-time work, which is usually accompanied by financial disadvantages. However, this does not necessarily has to be the case if both, employee and employer, are prepared to establish an innovative work time model. In this context, so-called job sharing is being used more and more often.

Job sharing, what is it? In short, it is the splitting of a full-time job into two (or more) employees (job sharer or tandem partner). The employees manage the job together instead of each managing a separate area. The time management is therefore very flexible and the splitting of the job does not have to be half/half. Depending on the wishes of the tandem partners, almost any combination from 60/40, 70/30 to 80/20 is possible.

In practice, job sharing is often used as a generic term for various models. Incorrectly, many employers and employees assume that sharing a full-time job into different functional areas performed by different employees also means job sharing. But this is a subcategory, namely job splitting. In this case, the employees work independently of each other and have sole responsibility for their respective areas of activity. The tasks can still be very similar, but do not require the same coordination as job sharing in the narrower sense. Another widespread form of job sharing is job pairing. This work time model has similar characteristics to its pure form but nevertheless it is not a synonym. The employees carry out the job together and are equally responsible for the decisions made. In job pairing, the employment contract of the tandem partners is concluded together and cannot be terminated by a single party. The termination must be submitted by both employees.

Job sharing offers advantages not only to employees

In principle, job sharing offers employees the possibility of part-time work and flexible working hours. This creates more time for private life and allows employees a better management of their career and family. Of course, that is not all! This working time model is also suitable for different hierarchical levels and highly qualified activities. While part-time work often discourages many employees because they are afraid of being permitted to supervise less exciting projects through less working time, this concern is eliminated by job sharing with a tandem partner. Because the job is carried out and managed together, there is always the possibility of exchanging ideas, obtaining advice, learning from the partner and positively influencing his learning process. Often this also increases the motivation of the employees and ensures more job satisfaction.

Jobsharing is also an attractive alternative for companies. Because motivated and happy employees do better work, which essentially determines the company's success and also improves the employer's image. A further positive aspect is the reduced absenteeism, resulting from illness or holidays, for example, which is almost non-existent in job sharing, because one of the two partners can be assumed to be present and able to compensate the hours. A job shared by two people also has the advantage of providing the company with double expertise and a harmonious complement of employee skills. The size of the company has a secondary role in job sharing, as it is the functional areas with complex tasks that benefit most from this concept. Examples are, among others, project management as well as marketing and sales, as well as the IT sector.

Essential competences of a jobsharer

Even if the model sounds tempting, it is not suitable for everyone. In practice it is often said that the sympathy of the tandem partners has to be good, because without them the model will not be successful. In this context, trust is a key factor, so from the employer's point of view it is crucial not to fill a shared position arbitrarily with two employees. It must be ensured for both partners that there is no need to worry about what might fail in the office. Other important skills that the job sharers have to bring with them are, above all, communication skills, because job sharing can quickly turn into a nightmare without agreements - with one another as well as with other colleagues. Organisational talent is also indispensable. In addition to the organisation of individual tasks, this also includes conscientious time management. If two people share a job, it is self-evident that at some point there will be a different opinion. Job sharing therefore requires a willingness to compromise on the part of both parties. The common intention to find the best solution should always be in the foreground, so that it is also possible to present the job as a unit. Other colleagues should not get the impression that the tandem team is not acting in the same way. In case of disagreement, strong communication skills are required to present a unit and bypass differences. That means that jobsharing is particularly suitable for people who count an open and communicative attitude as one of their strengths.

©DW Deutsch
©DW Deutsch

Weaknesses of job sharing

However, two employees who are together responsible for one job do not only offer advantages. Because of the constantly necessary agreements, there is an increased information effort on the part of the tandem partners, which must also be handled during working hours. Time management and organizational talent could also be possible sources of error, which make job sharing more difficult. Even when a partner leaves the job or the company, it is usually difficult to find a new partner. In practice, it is also common for the tandem partners to sign a part-time employment contract for the full-time position. For companies, this means increased wage costs that not everyone is prepared to bear. Nevertheless, job sharing still takes place, for example, at Bosch in the project management department or at Fresenius University in Cologne.

Job sharing with ARTS

ARTS is also open to new work time models. In line with our high-performance leadership approach, we view the future above all in competence sharing. This can also apply in the management area. The position is then divided into a technical and a disciplinary area, which is carried out by two leaders. Like the other sharing models, the initiative should be taken by the employee. ARTS always seeks solution-oriented and forward-looking employees. Visit our job exchange or send us an unsolicited application and become part of ARTS.

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