Job sharing can benefit managers and employers as much as it benefits staff.
It’s a legal requirement to consider flexible working, particularly from staff who are parents - but it’s not all one-way traffic. A job share can actually bring real benefits for the manager as well as the job sharing staff.
I chose two nurses to job share the assistant director of nursing role at Central and North West London Foundation Trust because I wanted to get the benefits and the strengths of both personalities in this one role. It’s worked very well for me.
I employed Emma Balfe and Claudia Salazar to share this job - even though there wasn’t a precedent in our trust to have senior nurses job sharing at such a level.
For me, it was great - I got their complementary strengths and they both brought different things to the table.
Another huge benefit for me is that the job is continuous - you don’t get periods of two weeks while one post holder is on holiday. The longest I go without at least one of them not being here is two days, which makes it an efficient and effective post.
It’s important to personally develop each member of staff on the job share, and give them their own goals and projects as well as work that they collaborate on.
I also think you must ensure that the two job sharers get on. You wouldn’t want a situation, for example, where they gave differing views on things all the time and couldn’t agree on how to accomplish a task or confused colleagues by responding differently. The role requires continuity and consistency.
You also need to ensure that the job sharers are accommodating and flexible. It won’t work if someone is rigid about the hours they work and can’t adapt to attend important meetings.
The other matter that can put managers off, particularly younger managers, is that you can feel ganged up on. I have not had that experience, but I can understand how some managers may feel intimidated if they employ two powerful individuals in one role.
As a manager, you need to ensure the communication systems work. Make sure that there is administrative support for the post-holders and that the team do not feel that they have to copy in both job sharers to every single email.
If you get it right, you can create a happy and effective working set-up that pays huge dividends for your trust or business as well as for the job sharers.
Next week: how to make the job sharing work from the postholders’ perspectives.
Peter Walsh has worked in the NHS over 30 years, rising to the director of nursing practice at Central and North West London Foundation Trust - a post he has held for over 10 years. The professional lead for more than 1,600 nurses, he is also a founding member of the Nursing Council on Alcohol, and an external adviser to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
How to make a job share work
- Employ two people with different strengths so they complement and compensate for each other
- Ensure the postholders get on and can work as a team - they will have to talk and maybe share time at work
- Put communication systems in place so they can share information
- Be clear that they must be flexible in their approach to their hours
- Understand that you must develop each job sharer individually and give them their own goals and projects