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What is job sharing and how can it be implemented successfully?

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What is job sharing and how can it be implemented successfully?

The modern working world demands greater flexibility. That is why more and more of the so-called New Work methods have become established in recent years. One of them is job sharing. In the following article, you will learn what it is all about and how the concept can be applied in practice. We also want to shed light on the advantages and disadvantages for employers and employees.

What is job sharing anyway?

The English term already suggests it: In job sharing, two or more employees share a full-time position. The parties involved can flexibly divide the tasks and areas of responsibility to be fulfilled among themselves. The important thing is that the entire workload is managed and the agreed total working hours are adhered to.

The legal framework is laid down in Section 13 of the Part-Time Employment Act (TzBfG). Accordingly, job sharing is a newfangled variant of part-time work. In order to ensure that all tasks are fulfilled, the employees sharing a job must jointly draw up a legally binding work plan.

However, it is important to know that there is no legal relationship between the individual employees. Each employee is paid the wage stipulated in the respective employment or collective agreement. There are also no special rules for calculating holiday entitlement and holiday pay.

What does time management look like in job sharing?

If two employees share a job, the division of work tasks is usually 50/50. However, this is by no means set in stone. Other models (e.g. 40/60 or 30/70) are also possible. If three or more employees share a job, the division can be even more flexible (e.g. 50/25/25 or 40/30/20).

In management positions (top sharing) it may also be common that no 40-hour week is planned at all. In this case, the division takes place in a different way. A common practice, for example, is the 70/70 model, in which both partners work 30 hours per week.

Why does job sharing make sense?

Filling full-time positions has become increasingly difficult in recent years. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the proportion of the Part-time employees has long been well above the EU average.

The reasons for this are manifold: For example, many employees would like to have a better work-life balance. Doing justice to both in equal measure is a major challenge with a full-time position. Overall, part-time work and job sharing allow for a better work-life balance.

However, it is not only the prospect of more free time that leads full-time employees to take a shorter break. Some employees use the time they gain to further their professional training without having to give up their current professional position. The employer also benefits from this.

what is job sharing

What is the difference between job sharing and part-time?

Job sharing and part-time are similar, but there are significant differences. A part-time position is held by one person alone. If a company offers several part-time positions, they are independent of each other. This means that the responsibilities and areas of work do not usually overlap.

With job sharing, the opposite is the case: several people share a full-time position and thus also the tasks and areas of responsibility that belong to this position. Regular arrangements are therefore unavoidable.

The common feature between a part-time position and job sharing is the reduced working hours, whereby the latter can even be divided up a little more flexibly in the case of job sharing.

What are the different types of job sharing?

Not all job sharing is the same. There are different models, which we would now like to take a closer look at.

1. job splitting

Job splitting involves splitting a job into two or more part-time positions. Since an identical range of tasks is processed, the employees do not have to coordinate with each other. There are no points of contact or even conflicts of interest.

2. job pairing

In job pairing, the classic variant of job sharing, the responsibility for the full-time position lies with all employees involved. Important decisions are always made jointly. If there are failures, all participants are sanctioned equally. The same applies to the case of success: Here, all are equally praised.

3. top sharing

In top sharing, two or more people share a management position. Together they lead their team of employees. All decisions are made jointly. The very fact that top sharing exists proves that sharing a job and professional success are by no means mutually exclusive.

What are the advantages of job sharing?

We have already briefly touched on some of the advantages of job sharing. Let's summarize them once again:

Benefits for employees:

  • (Re)establishing a work-life balance.
  • Better reconciliation of family and career.
  • Lower risk of overwork, depression and burnout.
  • Increased Productivity, as tasks can be distributed according to strengths and preferences.
  • Possibility of reassurance in case of difficult decisions.
  • More satisfaction in the workplace.

Benefits for employers:

  • Double competence and double expertise for one job = improved work results and higher customer satisfaction.
  • Retention of employees through increased job satisfaction.
  • In case of illness of an employee, competent compensation is guaranteed. The same applies during vacation time.
  • Filling the positions with employees who complement each other.
  • Reduced error rate due to multi-eye principle.
  • Facilitated induction of new employees.

What are the disadvantages of job sharing?

No working method brings only advantages. In order to decide whether job sharing is suitable for one's own company, possible disadvantages must also be taken into account.

Disadvantages for employees

  • Job sharing requires a willingness to communicate and coordinate. This could be too much for a loner.
  • Increased potential for conflict if the job sharing partners do not harmonise with each other.

Disadvantages for employers

  • Increased administrative and organisational burden.
  • Higher salary and fringe benefit costs for a job.
  • High time expenditure to find suitable job sharing partners.
  • Risk that the job sharing project will fail due to incompatible partners.

As you can see from the comparison of the advantages and disadvantages, job sharing primarily takes into account the interests of the employees. Even if the employer benefits from concentrated expertise and quick replacement in case of illness, job sharing is accompanied by a cost and administrative effort that should not be underestimated.

What are the requirements for successful job sharing from the employee's point of view?

In Germany, every employee has the right to work part-time, provided certain conditions are met. This also applies to managers. The concept of job sharing and the flexibility that comes with it may sound tempting. However, before you consider switching to this working model, you should think through the pros and cons thoroughly.

Don't make a hasty decision! Quite a few employees have found out after a few weeks that job sharing does not suit them after all for a variety of reasons. In the worst case, a restructuring into your old position is no longer possible, which can mean the loss of your job. Before you take this risk, you should be sure of yourself.

If you are interested in job sharing, you should have the following character traits:

1. mature communication skills

Coordinating with each other is essential for successful job sharing: What tasks need to be done? Who takes care of what? How do we divide up our working time? If the parties don't talk to each other, there is a danger that the entire workplace will descend into chaos in no time. Make sure to always keep each other up to date.

2. willingness to compromise

Sharing the responsibilities of a full-time position with another employee requires a willingness to compromise. You may have different approaches to some issues. This is perfectly normal and can even be beneficial. Constructive exchange often produces the best ideas.

However, it is important not to insist on one's own point of view out of principle, but to analyse the situation neutrally. If you are not able to do this, job sharing is not suitable for you.

3. organizational skills

Job sharing cannot work without order and structure. This includes dividing the tasks sensibly (!) among each other and ensuring that the work processes run smoothly. Depending on the job, this can involve more or less organisational effort. Disorganised and absent-minded employees are out of place here.

However, the success of job sharing does not only depend on you alone. Your partner should also meet the above requirements. In addition, your collegial relationship should also be stable:

Four. Do you have chemistry?

The job sharing partners must be selected according to precise criteria. Simply throwing two random colleagues together is rarely crowned with success. The two partners are dependent on each other in their daily work. If one party does not pass on information correctly or works carelessly, the other partner cannot do a good job either.

Mutual respect is one of the most important basic requirements. If your employer assigns you a colleague for job sharing who makes you feel uncomfortable from the start, be sure to speak up! In this case, it is better to wait until another opportunity arises with another partner.

Can you trust each other?

Sharing professional responsibility also means being able to trust each other fully in this respect: Any mistakes and negligence will ultimately fall back on both of you!

Can't relax on vacation because you're worried about your job sharing partner letting the current project slide? Then your cooperation does not have a good basis!

job sharing definition

How to approach job sharing as an employee

You may work in a company where the concept of job sharing does not (yet) exist. In this case, it is advisable to show initiative. Talk to your supervisor and show how you envisage sharing your full-time position. Ideally, you have already found a suitable partner for job sharing. Apply together!

If job sharing is generally not possible in your current job, you will have to look around externally. There are now some special online platforms that bring employees and employers together. The aim of these platforms is not only to find a suitable new employer, but also to bring together suitable job sharing partners.

Successful job sharing from the employer's point of view

Job sharing is not yet widespread in Germany, but it is not a rarity either. In the meantime, around 27 % of German companies offer their employees the option of Job sharing on.

If you as an entrepreneur want to enable job sharing for your employees, this requires, as already explained, a certain amount of planning and organisation. However, this can be worthwhile in order to increase the satisfaction of the employees and thus their productivity.

The following steps are necessary to establish job sharing in your company:

  • Question the corporate culture: Is overtime the order of the day in your company? If so, chronic overwork could persist despite job sharing. Eliminate ineffective and time-consuming workflows in favour of better alternatives.
  • Establish a suitable application process for job sharing: Organise the interviews efficiently and yet save time. This can be done with the help of various technical tools such as an application calendar.
  • 3. set binding guidelines: what is specifically expected of employees in job sharing?
  • 4. make sure that the potential job sharing partners harmonize with each other. Ideally, they should already be long-standing colleagues. If this is not the case, the employees should get to know each other and, if necessary, work on a trial project before the job sharing becomes binding.
  • 5. secure the necessary support from the management: talk to the departmental and Team Leadersso that they can support their employees in the job sharing process in a targeted manner. This is particularly important in the initial phase. However, they should not interfere too much.

Is job sharing an enrichment for the modern working world?

Although job sharing is becoming increasingly popular, it is not (yet) possible to speak of a widespread spread in the professional world. In over 70 % of German companies, only the classic full-time, part-time and mini-job positions currently exist.

As flexibility, work-life balance and self-fulfilment become increasingly important for many employees, it can be assumed that job sharing will become more established over the coming decades. This would have numerous advantages, the first of which would be a more self-determined (professional) life.

However, implementing job sharing in practice is not a simple undertaking: Such a restructuring requires a great deal of organizational effort on the part of the employer. Whether this is worthwhile in terms of employee satisfaction and the resulting better performance results remains to be weighed up internally. However, job sharing should be worth considering in any case.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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