Job Sharing: Definition, Advantages & Disadvantages

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Shawn Grimsley

Want more job flexibility? Job sharing may be the answer. In this lesson, you'll learn about job sharing, its advantages and disadvantages. You'll also have a chance to take a brief quiz after the lesson to reinforce your knowledge.

We also recommend watching Types of Job Redesign: Job Enrichment, Enlargement & Rotation and Job Flexibility in the Workplace

Definition

Job sharing occurs when two or more people share one job by working on different days or at different times. In other words, multiple people fill one job position.

Example

Let's say you work at a manufacturing plant in Detroit that makes parts for a large automobile company. You just had your first child and want to spend more time at home. You have a friend who also happens to be a new mommy who works at the plant in the same position as you. She also wants to spend more time at home with her child. You both approach your supervisor and see if a job sharing arrangement can be made.

Your supervisor runs your request up the chain of command, and in a few days you are informed that the company will allow a fifty-fifty split. You agree to work half of the shift and your friend will work the other half. You and she will rotate from morning and afternoon shifts on a weekly basis. You are paid a wage so you don't have to be worried about splitting your salary, but will nevertheless take home fifty percent less each pay period. You also have to give up fifty percent of the contribution your employer makes to your 401K and health insurance because it must be shared with your friend who is sharing the job.

Factors to Consider

Employers and employees should consider several factors before agreeing to job sharing.

  • If the position is salaried, you need to figure out how the salary will be divided between the employees filling the position.
  • You will also need to decide how to divide up the vacation days, sick days, and paid holidays.
  • Other employee benefits such as health insurance and retirement fund matching has to be divided. In this situation, the percentage of an employer's contribution can be divided up. For example, if an employer covers 100% of an employee's health insurance premium for the position, the employer may only cover one-third of the premium for each employee if three people share the job. The idea is to keep the costs for the employer the same, since we are dealing with one position.
  • You will also need to clearly define which employees will have responsibility for each specific duty of the position.
  • You and your employer will also have to have a good understanding how you will be evaluated in light of the fact that you are only doing part of the work.

A key thing to remember is that you are sharing the job, which means that you are only entitled a proportion of the salary and benefits that come with the position, and your fellow employees are entitled to their portion.

Advantages

Job sharing can be advantageous to both employers and employees. It obviously can give you a great amount of flexibility. It can allow you the chance to spend more time with your family and engage in other quality of life activities. It may also allow you to enter into semi-retirement. It can also help reduce stress and burnout.

Employers may benefit from an increase in productivity and efficiency due to the synergy created by employees working in the same position. Employers may get the advantages of an extended workday without having to pay overtime because no one is working overtime, but the combined hours of the employees may exceed forty hours. It may also reduce the need for part-time or temporary employees. Finally, it may be a way to keep valuable employees who would otherwise leave.

Disadvantages

Job sharing is not without some disadvantages. If you and others who are sharing the job don't get along, it can be a headache for both you and your employer. If you are an employer, you may end up paying more in administrative costs and training. Additionally, it may not be completely possible or practical to divide up the benefits and pay between the employees sharing the position without paying more than you would pay with one employee. If the position has supervisory responsibility, subordinates may have a hard time adjusting to the varying management styles and approaches of the employees that share the job.

Summary

Job sharing is simply when a job is filled by two or more people. The pay and benefits are divided between the employees who share the position so that the company does not spend any more money than it would if it was employing only one person for the position. Advantages of job sharing include flexibility, reduction of stress and burnout as well as increased productivity and efficiency. Employers may also be able to get more man-hours for less money and be able to keep valued employees that would otherwise leave. Disadvantages include the possibility of interpersonal conflict, added administrative expenses, and difficulty of subordinates dealing with multiple supervisors if the job sharing position is supervisory.

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