Making the case for job shares

Chloe Tait and Katy Murray are not only leading a campaign for senior job shares at the Association of British Insurers, they are also living proof that they work.

Job Share

 

Diversity and Inclusion Campaigns Managers Chloe Tait and Katy Murray have worked in a job share partnership at the Association of British Insurers (ABI) since November 2019.

Together they have 30 years’ cross-sector experience in strategic communications, campaign management and stakeholder engagement and they’ve found that combining their skills and experience to share one role has many benefits for both their work and wellbeing.

Katy was not new to job sharing, having previously worked in a job share team leading Flood and Coastal Risk communications in the Civil Service. The Civil Service, a past winner of the workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Award for Flexible Working due to its work on job sharing, has long championed this form of flexible working, viewing it as a crucial enabler of career progression for part-time workers in senior roles. Chloe too had had a positive experience of job sharing, having previously been managed by a job share partnership at Teach First.

Having been friends for several years, with the same level of experience in communications and, with two young children each, they wanted to find a way of balancing their career ambitions with their caring responsibilities. Katy asked Chloe if she’d consider it and the two combined forces and began searching for the right role as a duo.

They talked about the organisations and roles that interested them most, developed a joint CV and a shared email account and discussed how to make their job share partnership work. They were also fortunate to be mentored by Chloe’s previous managers, who are now at the British Chambers of Commerce. They talked the pair through what had worked well for them and shared advice and guidance.

Chloe and Katy then saw the role at the ABI, which was aimed at tackling gender inequality in senior roles through increasing job sharing in the Insurance and Long Term Savings Sector. “We’ve always been passionate about diversity and inclusion and this felt like exactly the right role,” says Katy. It was the first senior job share team to be employed by the ABI and Chloe and Katy were interviewed both in terms of their individual experience and as a partnership.

Making Flexible Work

Since joining the ABI their role has expanded significantly and in January they developed a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for the Insurance and Long Term Savings Sector. As part of this they have led the Making Flexible Work Campaign and, when it launched in April 2021, 27 major firms had signed up to meet the three Making Flexible Work Charter commitments. These commitments include advertising the majority of roles as open to job sharing, part-time and flexible working and being transparent about the flexible working that is on offer. So not only are Chloe and Katy directly experiencing the benefits of job sharing, but they are actively working to encourage more employers to support it and more employees to consider trying it.

As part of their work on this campaign they have developed a series of short films, blogs, guides and a toolkit to promote the benefits of job sharing for employees and employers and support firms that want to enable it. They have partnered with a wide range of organisations, including The Job Share Pair, Roleshare and DuoMe to bust myths and share the many benefits of job sharing.

Chloe [pictured right] and Katy say that, aside from opening up the talent pool for senior roles and increasing diversity, there are huge benefits for employers who enable job sharing, some of which are not immediately obvious. Aside from being able to benefit from two people’s experience and skills, research shows that job share partnerships are 30% more productive. This, says Katy, may be in part due to them having higher levels of energy because they work part time and can re-charge. Job share teams are also not just delivering for their employer and themselves – they want to ensure that they also deliver for their job share partner.

For job share partners, the benefits are far greater than having a better work life balance and career progression. They include having someone you can talk things through with, who can continue to deliver when you are on annual leave, who can suggest improvements, can help you to problem solve… Unlike part-time work, job share teams can cover a full-time role and because they often work six days between them, they can take on wider responsibilities compared with one individual working five days. This is why job share teams continue to progress in their careers far more quickly than part-time workers. As almost 90% of those who work part time in the Insurance and Long-Term Savings sector are women, providing the opportunity to job share will help more women to reach senior roles.

Benefits outweigh the costs

Katy [pictured left] and Chloe work a six-day week between them, with Wednesday being their crossover day. They do their handover online and they use each Wednesday to focus on forward planning and problem solving and they are often in two places at once – a unique benefit to job sharing. They emphasise that any extra costs associated with employing a job share team are outweighed by the benefits to employers, which also include the ability to expand the role and retain talent.

Katy is optimistic that the emphasis on management by outcomes rather than presenteeism that we have seen during the pandemic will encourage more employers to look at job sharing and both she and Chloe would like them to state proactively on job adverts that they are open to applications from job share partners. They are also keen to see organisations like Workday and LinkedIn doing more to promote and enable job sharing so that job share partners can jointly apply for roles.

The Making Flexible Work Campaign focuses on awareness building and education to encourage sceptical employers to be open to job sharing in addition to other forms of flexible working. It includes promoting examples of successful job share partnerships and FAQs for hiring managers and HR teams. For instance, they get lots of questions from line managers worried about what happens if a job share partner leaves or if there are performance issues with one member of the pair. Chloe says performance issues should be handled the same as for any other worker and that, at least if one half of the pair leaves, there is continuity as the other is still there, unlike if a full-time worker leaves. They are also signposting people to best practice information and other resources through the Job Share Toolkit that they’ve
developed.

Getting started

So how do you find a job share partner? In Chloe and Katy’s case, the two knew each other beforehand. Some employers operate their own internal job share register, such as the Civil Service. There are also external platforms where you can find a job share partner, such as Duome. Another avenue is through asking your network. Chloe says it is better to form the partnership and figure out how it would work best before applying for jobs.

She and Katy say that good communication is one of the keys to successful job sharing, not just with recruiters, line managers and within the job share partnership, but also with team members. It is important to let others know how the job share partnership will work and what to expect – including how, if a colleague or client is talking to one of the pair, they are effectively talking to both.

It is also important for candidates to be aware that an employer may not have experienced job sharing before and for hiring managers to be able to envisage how two peoples’ skills and experience can complement each other and how they can deliver for the organisation.

Chloe and Katy say that the Making Flexible Work campaign is going really well and firms working in the sector can sign up at any time. Their own partnership and their enthusiasm for it infuses the campaign. As Chloe says: “It is the first working arrangement I have been in when I have felt that I can have my cake and eat it.”

*Any employer interested in finding out more about the ABI campaign, should click here.



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