This article was updated on June 18, 2018.
One way organizations can help some employees navigate family and personal responsibilities — and in the meantime, save money and increase productivity through less turnover and dissatisfaction — is to divide one full-time job into two part-time positions. This may create logistical headaches, but they can be more than offset by the benefits to the organization. When it comes to full-time vs. part-time, job sharing is one way employers can inspire efficiency while also helping employees find time for obligations outside of work.
Full-Time vs. Part-Time
According to Harvard Business Review, employees who work fewer hours tend to be more productive per hour than those who work longer. In fact, there's little evidence that people who consistently work longer do a better job.
One conclusion that can be drawn is that two part-time workers may be more productive than one full-time worker. That can be good news for finance leaders who are considering job-share programs. In the race between full-time vs. part-time, part-time could very well win.
Giving all employees a shorter workweek is a hard sell, no matter what the evidence may be. But allowing employees to share jobs is a way to generate some benefits of working fewer hours.
Increased Productivity and Increased Retention Is a Win-Win
Another advantage could be that many of the people interested in job sharing are highly skilled individuals in the middle of their careers who can bring a lot of know-how to the job. They may have family obligations that interfere with full-time employment. An organization that allows job sharing may be able to attract people who would otherwise consider competing offers.
Once job-sharing employees are set up in HR systems, their payroll and benefits should be processed with minimal extra work. And let's face it: Part-time employees generally receive fewer benefits. Reduced benefits costs could offset some remaining drawbacks.
Managing Communications and Setting Expectations
The productivity gains from job sharing depend on finance leaders and other managers having systems in place to handle shared jobs. One guide to managing employees in shared positions comes from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, as job sharing is common in many federal agencies. Basic guidelines include good communication between job sharers and the entire team, dividing responsibilities appropriately and having performance standards and evaluations for each member of the team. It's especially important to give each member of the job-share team separate transaction authority so that compliance chains maintain integrity.
Consider, though, that a manager who upgrades a department's communication processes and clarifies work responsibilities to handle job sharers may end up with happier full-time employees as well. After all, communication problems and turf battles create many of the day-to-day annoyances that interfere with a job well done.
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