Lisa Meigh, director of HR & Learning at Covéa Insurance, discusses the merits of job sharing.
With government and many employers now backing new initiatives to tackle gender equality in the workplace, there’s every reason for renewed interest in practical ways to retain female talent in the workforce. Job sharing, for some, offers the perfect solution allowing them freedom and flexibility to enjoy a fulfilling home life, without stalling their career progress. Job shares work by two people fulfilling one role, sharing the responsibility and remuneration of the full-time position.
Although job sharing is not limited to mothers returning to work after maternity leave, this is where it is most commonly practiced. The decision to return to work after having a child is often complicated. Financial, practical and emotional needs all have a bearing on the decision. For some women, job sharing can make that decision easier; the arrangement allows them to fulfil a full-time role, with a seamless service to their employer, while working part-time. For employers wanting to retain a valuable employee’s skills and experience, the job share may provide a successful solution where both parties achieve the outcome they want.
For a job share to be successful, the key is that employees fulfilling the role must be a good match. That doesn’t necessarily mean a skills match, but both employees need a strong work ethic and must be willing to exert maximum effort in communication and collaboration. There must be a high level of accountability on both parties, and a genuine trust and respect for one another. There must also be clear and close coordination with regular and thorough handovers.
When job shares are successful, productivity can increase as each person, out of respect for the other, and out of loyalty to their employer, works hard to make it succeed. As a result of working fewer hours, each party is at lower risk of fatigue or burnout, and is likely to remain energised – the ‘dual fuel’ scenario. On a practical level, job shares give employers additional holiday and sickness cover, and there’s a strong chance that the job share will provide a wider skill set because two heads are almost always better than one.
It is true there is an additional cost to an employer in operating a job share. Some duplication is inevitable: running two payrolls instead of one, two training courses instead of one etc. But for employers with a genuine desire to retain talent, and with a commitment to ensure that more women make it into the top jobs, a positive approach to job sharing is essential.
Considering a job share? Read the personal experiences of these four employees of Covéa Insurance.
Amie Meslohi and Rina Maisuria share the role of senior marketing executive in the external marketing team, based in the Reading office. Rachel Morris and Nina Moore share the role of senior marketing & communications executive in the internal communications team, based in the Halifax office.
Rachel – The way Nina and I are wired, the way we think, our strengths are the complete opposite, which gives us a significant edge when it comes to delivering a project together. It would be hard (possibly impossible?) to find one person who would possess all the skills Nina and I bring collectively. A fiercely creative brain isn’t also typically fiercely methodical, planned and organised – they’re not designed to work like that!
Nina – Our physical energy levels, and ‘head space’ are definitely doubled and together we can maintain a faster pace, and keep more focused for longer.
Amie – It’s a unique position to be in, one which causes you to constantly assess yourself and ensure you’re considering the other, as you have to work so closely.
Rina – We have worked hard to ensure we are more organised and that our notes are always up to date so each of us can always pick up where the other left off. It’s also great having someone to bounce ideas off, or pick things up when you’re flagging a little!
Rachel – I think you develop a real capacity to respect another person, and what they bring to the table. As I’ve worked so closely with Nina, and seen our differences leap out at me, I’ve come to really appreciate, in such a magnified way, the degree to which we’re all so different and how vital that is to a team performing.
Amie – There’s frequently room for celebration and feel-good factor for us both as we both see and respect what we each bring to the table.
Rachel – I grow in my development areas quickly, as working closely together means I frequently learn from Nina.
Rina – Everyone gets the best of us – our family and our team/company.
Rachel – I genuinely hope our organisation continues to grow in embracing job shares, especially allowing people to progress as a pair. While I understand there are some big considerations, there are so many benefits. Above all, for me it actually brings me hope that, as a working parent, it is still possible to maintain a good job, to not just keep my head above the parapet, but thrive in it, develop and progress my career, all whilst maintaining my home, family life, healthy friendships and of course, bringing up my precious boy!