The case for job shares

Two puzzle pieces


Ever considered a job share? You’re not alone. Nearly two thirds of senior women surveyed by diversity recruitment specialist Capability Jane and Working Families, said they would like the opportunity to job share.

Nine out of ten respondents said that having the ability to job share could mean the difference between staying with a company and leaving.

The research was sponsored by Centrica, Deloitte, DHL, Freshfields, Herbert Smith, KPMG and RBS and supported by a number of leading academic institutions and independent work-life experts.   The study was prompted by the increasing desire amongst many women in senior roles to combine career development with reduced-hours working; and the need on the part of employers to retain and progress their female talent.

The study found that there is a sound business case for job sharing to be promoted by employers. Whilst costs may be slightly higher than employing a single individual, the benefits, including retention of key personnel, absence cover and a focused and energetic team can easily outweigh these.

It says job sharing is already happening effectively at a senior level in large global organisations. Benefits cited by jobs sharers included: the ability to work in a big role on a reduced hours basis; career progression; the ability to switch off and hand over accountability; greater flexibility and work life balance; and having two heads focused on a single role.

Job sharing, however, was found to be no panacea.  Hard work and commitment, including out-of-hours communication with job share partners, and the need to go the extra mile in order to prove themselves, were key characteristics of successful job shares.

In addition, the study focused on capturing best practice recommendations for how to make job sharing successful at senior level, and creating a set of “toolkits”.  These toolkits contain the essential frameworks, checklists and templates for organisations looking to set up an effective job share programme.

Sara Hill, Managing Director of Capability Jane, said: “As diversity recruitment specialists we have seen a growing appetite for job sharing amongst women in key commercial roles. However, scepticism remains amongst managers who believe ‘it won’t work here’. With this project, based on sound research findings, we are setting out to dispel this myth, and to provide the tools and the evidence for organisations and individuals who want to make job sharing work.”

Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: “We would encourage businesses to fully absorb the findings of this research, especially in the current economic climate. Working hours are on the increase, and the annual cost of presenteeism is greater than of absenteeism.  So the need to think about the design and shape of work is paramount. Job sharing provides a unique opportunity to think about the design of roles, and about creating really effective ways of working.”


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