By Akhil Shahani, an EO Mumbai member and director of the Shahani Group
You have a handful of employees you really value but who want to leave— not to take up another job, but to do more with their lives. They like working for you, but are simply unable to find time for other things like family, leisure and personal pursuits, and have therefore decided to choose one over the other. But it need not be that way. By implementing a job-sharing arrangement, both employers and employees can find a simple solution to their problem.
What does a job-sharing setup look like? In a manner of speaking, it’s an arrangement that involves splitting one person’s job in two, such that another staff member works on it at any given time. It has some obvious advantages, such as giving employers a chance to retain employees who want to work fewer hours; making more than one person proficient at a task, thereby reducing the risk of work disruption should an employee not be available or leave; and improving productivity, as less-stressed employees are happier and perform better. Here are a few more things to consider when establishing a job-sharing model in your business:
Create Clearly Defined Roles
While offering greater efficiency, job-sharing can also bring with it potential problems if not attended to right away. For example, neither person may feel fully responsible for a task if the rules are not laid out properly. You don’t want a situation where you don’t know who’s in charge, or one in which each person blames the other for a mishap. To avoid this, put the individual responsibilities in writing (if the job can be split that way). This will prevent any inadvertent duplication of work. Also, insist on a “handover” routine at the end of each shift, and get the employees to agree to be available on the phone during off-hours, so that you can contact them during an emergency.
Always Stay Transparent
Full-time employees may have difficulty dealing with the schedules of their colleagues who share jobs. In cases where their functions are interdependent, this might create some confusion. This issue can be easily resolved by creating and circulating a weekly schedule, which highlights the shifts allocated to different people. To build on this transparency, send reminders when necessary, as well as updates whenever there’s a change to a role or responsibility. Timely information and planning will take care of most requirements and eliminate potential confusion.
Empower Your People
Job-sharing can really work to the advantage of all parties concerned, provided they are committed to the cause. Make sure you hire equally capable and dedicated people so that one person is not spending time undoing the mistakes of the other. A job-sharing arrangement might cost a bit more, since hourly rates for part-time work are typically higher, so it’s important to ensure that the benefits of job-sharing outweigh the costs of higher compensation. The most important thing to remember is to ensure that everyone wants to make the arrangement work, and that they also know how to. Then all you have to do is support the process and watch as both your productivity and employee retention increases.