Good work-life balance is an increasingly important part of employers' retention strategies. This includes offering more vacation days, telecommuting options and flexible work hours.
One such flex-work trend is job sharing – an arrangement that involves two people who each work part time to fill one full-time position.
"Each person works part of the full-time hours," said Laura Handrick, HR analyst for Fit Small Business. "For example, a medical receptionist position could be job-shared with one taking the 6 a.m. to noon shift and the other taking noon to 6 p.m."
According to Monster career expert Vicki Salemi, the two people who share a job typically create a work schedule that works for both of them, and they usually don't work at the same time. Some job-sharers never see each other, while others may work a couple hours together a week.
"[The] benefits of job sharing are tremendous for skilled office workers who have other commitments – for example, single moms whose kids are in school in the morning or experienced older workers who really only need part-time income," Handrick said.
Here are some of the pros and cons of job-sharing positions, and how to excel at a sharing a job with someone.
Benefits of job sharing
The biggest benefit of job sharing for employees is work flexibility. Employees are able to work part time, and they know that when they aren't working, someone else is. Unlike other positions where you may be the only person qualified to do the work, job-share partners can cover each other's shifts seamlessly. Therefore, it's easier to plan for days off.
"Someone has your back, and you have theirs when they're out of the office too," said Salemi. "When both workers are equally committed and communicate frequently, it can be a wonderful win-win for both of them as well as the employer."
Job sharing allows employers to retain top-notch employees. For example, if a good employee was considering leaving the company because they felt their full-time workload was too much, job sharing would be a suitable alternative.
It also allows employers to keep employees who may want to retire or have too many responsibilities at home.
"This presents an excellent opportunity for the employee to not have to work a full workweek while still being an active contributor to the organization," said Salemi.
Handrick said employers don't need to worry about paying overtime to job-sharers. Companies also don't have to pay benefits for workers who work less than 30 hours regardless of the organization's size, which saves the employer money.
Handrick also mentioned that job sharing is helpful if one partner leaves the company.
"Two people know the work processes, not just one, so if one quits, you still have a backup with tacit knowledge about your business," she said.
Disadvantages of job sharing
When everyone pulls their weight in a shared position, the concept can be very beneficial. However, if someone feels as though they're doing all the work and the job-share partner isn't picking up the slack, it can be draining and frustrating for both the employees and employer.
"Resentment could build up if one person is carrying the other person in terms of the workload and it's not equal," said Salemi.
Sharing your job with someone might also make it difficult for you to get promoted in the future.
"A job-sharing employee may not be looked at as a serious contender for a promotion," said Stan Kimer, president of Total Engagement Consulting. "There is a potential of conflict with the other person or people sharing your job."
Finally, the lack of benefits for a part-time job-sharer could be a disadvantage for the employee (although this is typically helpful for employers).
Tips for a successful job share
If you do decide to take a shared job, one of the keys to success is strong communication. It's important to communicate effectively and consistently with your job-share partner to create a seamless work experience.
"Your colleagues and clients shouldn't know which day you're in and out, other than the fact that the position itself – whether it's you or your partner – is getting the work done," Salemi said.
Handrick recommends having regular meetings with each other to clarify gray areas and responsibilities. She also said daily emails and message boards can be helpful.
Finally, it's important to be fully committed to your position, even though you're working part time.
"To be successful in a job-sharing position, you need to be fully committed and in game-day mode," Salemi told Business News Daily. "This means working at your full capacity when you're on the clock."