Smaller businesses today need to attract the best employees if they are going to succeed. They need to think creatively and strategically to compete, operate and succeed. Let’s face it, the employee has won today’s war for talent. There are more opportunities than there are applicants. How can smaller businesses attract and retain top talent and increase productivity to keep themselves competitive?
Do resources exist to construct an on-site fitness facility or child development center? Can you offer stock options? A competitive benefits package with dependent care spending accounts and a matching program for your employee 401k plan? Lactation rooms? Tuition reimbursement? Financial aid for adoption?
ShareGoals is a human resource consulting company that specializes in job sharing as a tool for increasing employee attraction, retention and productivity. A job share team known as Team Shaggie operates ShareGoals.
These work/life friendly benefits help to attract and retain top performers. They are usually unrealistic for a smaller business. However, not all solutions are expensive or reliant on contractors.
Allow us to introduce job sharing. Job sharing is the only flexible work arrangement that provides an employer with full time coverage while employees work part time. Job sharing, by its very nature, allows for professional demands to be met while employees tend to personal responsibilities. Job sharing also gives the employer an opportunity to work with two qualified candidates providing a varied skill set, experiences and qualifications. Job sharing is a preferred way of working. It provides employees with a quality of life and gives the employer the advantage of a hyper-productive and extremely loyal employee team.
Yet, job sharing remains the least utilized of the flexible work arrangements due to employers’ misconceptions. The most common concerns include:
1. How do I find a team?
2. What are the mechanics of job sharing?
3. How do we provide benefits to the team?
4. How is the team compensated?
5. How does company manage a job share team?
Job sharing is not an option that every employee will consider. Nor is it an option that should be imposed. Team members should and will try to find one another. Potential team members need to network with colleagues and peers. The "pool" from which one can find a partner is huge and is by no means limited to the current work force. One should consider people who have temporarily left the work force such as new mothers or recent retirees.
Building the Team
As an employer, you may suggest potential sharers to one another. Look for employees who exhibit a similar philosophical and practical approach to business. There are many things to be considered when trying to make a "match". Do not make the mistake of basing your decision solely on circumstance. Two people are not made for one another simply because they are pregnant at the same time.
Job share teams may work in a variety of ways. For the past 5-½ years, we have each worked 3 days a week, overlapping on Wednesdays. We took full advantage of our "double duty" day to show co-workers and clients the power of the team. Co-workers gave us the nickname, "Team Shaggie". This turned out to be an ingenious way to brand ourselves and made it easier to market our team’s accomplishments.
Team Shaggie consists of two equal partners, Shari Rosen Ascher and Maggie Sisco. They have been a job share team for over five years. They made the initial decision to job share in order to best balance their desire to achieve professional success and personal satisfaction. Before staring ShareGoals, they were VP/Sales at Interep Radio. They survived and thrived through one company merger, 5 managers, 4 presidents, too many assistants, dozens of other sales people and two maternity leaves. They mentored new sellers who all advanced to management, were top performers and were immeasurably loyal to the company that "allowed" us to work as a team. In fact, the biggest investor in ShareGoals is the Chairman of the Board of Interep Radio.
Liz/Linda, Account Executives at Infinity Radio Sales have been job sharing since 1985. They each work 2 days a week and alternate coverage on Wednesdays. They share a desk, a computer and because they live in the same town, they even share a train pass.
What days a particular person works is not as important as how the team works together. The mechanics of the job share must be acceptable to all parties. It should never matter who is in the office on what day. It should only matter that deadlines are met, clients are served and the job is done.
It is becoming more common for larger companies to offer benefits to try and lure part-time employees. How employees are compensated and what benefits they receive are decisions which must be made by each individual organization. Perhaps only one member will need benefits. If both members want coverage, consider pro-rating benefit packages based on packages offered to part time employees. This should not be the deal breaker.
Compensation is always negotiated as a team. The team members need to be "comfortable" talking about money with one another. If job share teams work a 5-day week then their salary would be equal to that of a full time employee. The job share team that works 3 days each actually works a six-day workweek. They are working 20% more, able to do 20% more work, and be 20% more productive than a traditional employee. The "team salary" is really buying the employer an extra day's work.
Establish a program that is a win-win for all involved. If policies regarding compensation and benefits are established up front, there will be less opportunity for confusion or corruption later on.
Managing a job share team is easier than managing individual employees. A successful job share team utilizes their own system of checks and balances. Through constant communication, discussion and analysis, job share teams help to solve their own problems and develop strategies for success. They should be sensitive to internal office dynamics and work within the regulations of the organization. They have an extra set of eyes and ears off of which to bounce ideas before asking a manager for direction. This is one of the team’s greatest assets and strengths.
Managing a Job Share Team
Patti Hausherr and Jennifer Schaeffner of Quick and Reilly operate as VicePresidents Co-Market Sales Manager Northern Market. Together as a team since Spring 1999, they have seen retail sales in their territory increase by 15%. Productivity statistics for the five sales managers and 125 brokers in their territory show a 31% increase. Not only are they producing bottomline results, their co-workers respond to the team dynamic.
The team exists as a single entity and is managed as if they were one employee. The team should be given assignments and responsibilities together and the team should be given performance reviews together. Management must never let personal preference for one member cloud professional assessment or treatment of the team. A successful team relies on supportive management.
This is only a beginning. Every organization has its own concerns and questions regarding job sharing. When job sharing is effective, it is taken seriously at all levels. Companies create policy and guidelines, train management, and market their efforts both internally and externally.
A job share program within your organization can be a great recruitment and retainment tool. If job sharing is used as a tool for increasing employee attraction and retention, then people need to know that it exists. If it is used to increase productivity and employee morale, then challenging, but achievable, goals must be set and publicly acknowledged when they are achieved. Get the best people, keep them motivated, keep them longer and take them from the competition.
For more information on job sharing or to schedule a workshop at your organization, contact Team Shaggie at:
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10017
Your comments and suggestions for these pages are most welcome!
Revised: November 15, 2000 TAF
© Copyright 2000, Shari Rosen Ascher and Maggie Sisco, All Rights Reserved.