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Jen Manuel and Kate Downing

Two heads, one role: How this duo’s job sharing led to success in two different companies

Jen and Kate started their first job-sharing arrangement in 2018 and quickly proved to their employer that it could be more valuable than having one person in a role.

They were known as “JK” in their shared roles, and they were a dynamic duo. They were able to bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to the table, and their employer couldn’t be happier with their performance.

In 2019, Jen and Kate decided to look for new job-sharing opportunities together. They knew it wouldn’t be easy, but they had a persuasive argument backed by the proof of what they had delivered. They secured a second job share opportunity and continued to excel in their roles. They had found a way to balance their professional and personal lives and were happier than ever.

What is the job-sharing model? 

Flexible working arrangements, such as part-time and casual roles, have been a staple in Australia’s employment landscape for years. They have allowed individuals to fit their employment around their personal and preferred circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has further propelled the acceptance and normalisation of remote work and flexible work hours.

An alternative to full-time employment that is often overlooked is job sharing. Job sharing is not just combining two part-time roles but rather a sincere split of one role between two people.  The concept is simple yet powerful: two people divide and share one full-time role while working part-time schedules. This leads to increased productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction for both parties.

Job sharing is an increasingly popular employment model that is ideal for today’s fast-paced and ever-changing job market. With remote working and flexible schedules on the rise, job sharing has become a solution for employers and employees seeking a balance between their professional and personal lives. 

Employees benefit from job sharing by having more flexibility and the ability to balance their work and personal lives. Additionally, job sharing can provide a sense of security as the responsibilities and workload are shared among two people, reducing the risk of burnout and stress.

Employers and businesses can benefit from job sharing, with increased productivity coming from the fresh perspectives and diverse range of skills and experiences brought by two people working on a single role. Additionally, job sharing can lead to reduced staff turnover and increased employee retention, as employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers flexible work arrangements.

Some of the key benefits include:

Increased productivity: Job sharers bring two sets of experience and skills to the role, which can lead to increased productivity. Additionally, if both job sharers do not take leave at the same time, the role will continue to function seamlessly, minimising disruptions to the business.

Improved retention: With the tight labour market, businesses are looking for ways to retain their employees and minimize hiring costs. Job sharing can improve retention as it allows for career growth and work-life balance, which is highly valued by employees.

Talent acquisition: Offering a flexible working environment can attract top talent that may not have considered the company otherwise.

However, there are also some challenges to consider when implementing a job share arrangement. Employers must clearly define the role and expectations, provide support to managers, communicate the benefits of job sharing to the entire company and conduct regular reviews to ensure the job share is working effectively. 

Communication between job sharers and other stakeholders is key to ensuring that all deliverables are met. Employers should also consider issues such as how public holidays, overtime, and leave will be awarded and make it clear in the contract.

Making it work

Jen and Kate’s attributes strengthen their ability to job share. Both have a high level of job motivation, are proactive and curious by nature, have strong decision-making skills, and take initiative. “We are extremely organised individuals who don’t require much guidance. Our project management skills, attention to detail, and collaborative working style have enabled us to succeed over the past four years,” said Kate.

The duo approaches a job share role with communication at the heart of everything to ensure continuity, service, and support for their teams and all stakeholders. “We find this delivers confidence within the business in our joint ability to deliver,” said Jen, who, together with Kate, has been awarded several awards in their roles.

Jen and Kate prefer to share a week with three days each instead of a three-day/two-day split. This job share arrangement allows for a crossover day each week to ensure flawless continuation and alignment on strategic approaches. 

“Communicating with each other, the greater team and external agencies is key to this approach being successful,” said Kate. “We ensure that we schedule any goal-setting, development, and strategy meetings on a shared day where we are both in attendance,” said Kate. 

“In our most recent role, we jointly managed team meetings and WIPs with individuals and checked in regularly with our team.”

Both understand there are times when there are additional work demands, and they always endeavour to be flexible to meet business needs. 

“Working in a shared role, flexibility is key, and we have both previously moved working days to ensure we attend business critical workshops and off-site meetings where required,” said Jen. “During periods of increased workload, we have each been able to offer the business additional work days.”

A job-sharing approach can be met with hesitation by potential employers, but Jen and Kate’s experience has demonstrated otherwise. “We appreciate that this arrangement requires an increased investment by an organisation, however we prove the much higher value that can be provided by this approach,” said Kate. 

A job-share role can also be presented as a positive by employers to clients and customers. In their first job share, Jen and Kate were responsible for all marketing strategy and execution with the company’s top client. The pair were nominated to take on this role partially due to the unique offering they could provide by having two senior marketing managers working on the account. 

“During this time, we continually checked in with key stakeholders at varying levels, to ensure the customer was happy with our level of service and not experiencing any barriers due to the working arrangement,” said Kate. 

“Feedback in all cases was extremely positive, due in most part to our seamless and meticulous handovers and alignment on all strategies and approaches.”

Accountability and ownership increase significantly when job-sharing, especially when both have a professional working relationship. “We endeavour to ensure the other is set up for success on the days they are working,” said Jen. “Essentially, we always strive to be the best for each other.”

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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