This article appeared in Forbes.com on 10/24/2011
Remember the old Calgon commercial portraying a woman trying to balance work, kids, home, husband? Do you suffer those Calgon moments often?
Job Sharing might be more unconventional than a hot bath but it does have the potential of being a viable long-term solution for many professionals.
What is Job Sharing?
Simply defined, job sharing is two professionals forming a partnership to perform one job. Most commonly practiced by mothers striving for greater balance, job sharing helps create happy, loyal workers and contributes to greater productivity in the office.
Is job sharing for you?
Weinreb Group connected with job sharing teams to learn how it was working out for them. This is what we learned.
Job Sharing Is Not…
Two people doing a part-time job.
Job Sharing Is…
One job description, one job, and one identity created by two people.
Because the two perform one job, their identities often morph. In fact, job sharing teams report that clients often did not know which of the two was on the receiving end of the call. For job sharers, this is a mark of success.
Getting Started: The Greatest Challenges Are Up Front
Job sharing takes a leap of faith and a willingness to overcome obstacles. The decision to take this route comes with fear amongst all stakeholder groups — fear that you won’t get along with your job share partner, that your peers won’t be supportive, and that others will doubt the arrangement can work, or worse get confused, and that you will have to repeat everything twice.
Any couple in a job share needs to take the time to strategize their method of working together. You develop a system of communicating and sharing information. Of course, because there are few existing models to emulate, it takes initiative and enthusiasm to go against the norm and develop what works best for you.
But over time, the fears dissipate, they say.
Benefits of Job Sharing
Weinreb Group discussed job sharing with the Mulberry Partners‘ Betsy Polk Joseph and Maggie Chotas, a firm that has extensively researched and written about enriching partnerships that they refer to as “powerships.”
Drawing on their extensive interviews with more than 100 women business partners and job sharers, they say:
“[While job sharing] isn’t for everyone, if both job sharers are willing and able to invest in the communication, trust and accountability that makes it work, it really works and is a win/win for all.”
Hard Work & Loyalty
Crucially, to make this arrangement work, job sharers must be hard workers with a very strong work ethic and the ability to effectively communicate. There is a strong sense of accountability attached with job sharing and successful job-sharers feel accountable to their partner and employer to demonstrate that job sharing works. They are extremely loyal — loyal to each other and loyal to their employer.
Job sharers are hyper-productive ensuring that their time at work is fully utilized, a vast shift from a time when they found themselves constantly apologizing for missing work due to family needs.
A Long Term Career, Together
And, job sharers can progress together as well. Community development executives Nora Bloch and Sarah Kitterman are a perfect example: After eight years of job sharing at Eastern Bank, the job sharing duo just moved as a team to Boston Community Capital’s lending group.
Fear of “The Mommy Track”
Job sharing does come with its challenges – it has its supporters but it also has it critics.
One of the biggest challenges is the perception associated with job sharing: that job sharing is equivalent to taking the “mommy track,” and that it slows down one’s career.
Certainly it does not halt one’s career like it would for a parent who decides to quit working, but job sharing will most likely get someone off the fast track.
Doesn’t Last Forever
There are many factors that can lead to a job change and job sharing increases the number of factors. For example, one of the job sharers might choose a different path or the organization could go in a different direction. In some cases, one of the women felt she needed the sharing arrangement when the kids were young and that she wants to return to full time work when the kids have grown more independent.
At the end of the day, all the partners we spoke to agreed that the benefits far outweigh the obstacles of job sharing. For women especially, job sharing holds immense value by elevating your quality of professional and personal life.
For more information on the logistics of Job Sharing and a chart analyzing how it affects major stakeholders, visit Weinreb Group.
The rest of the blog post is here.