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What HR Can Teach Job-share Managers

September 1, 1994
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HR can play an advisory role if managers are considering job-share options for employees. Here are the steps:

  • Think through how a job gets done. What are the components of the job? What do people really need to do to get the job accomplished? Write it all down. Then ask yourself: Is job sharing right for this position? Is it right for the customers? Is it right for the co-workers?
  • Evaluate whether these workers are capable of a job-sharing arrangement. Are they already able performers? Will the job share enhance their work? Are they sufficiently flexible and organized?
  • Sit down with employees who want to job share and talk about the details of all the job functions. Decide if you'll divide activities by function or by time
  • Encourage employees to overlap their time so they're both available to coordinate and meet with you
  • Come up with a plan. Successful job- share pairs felt the critical things are: how to get the work done; how to engage in a process of educating colleagues, supervisors and all the people working together, including customers when necessary
  • Request that employees be available for certain staff meeting days or days when things are happening. This can be by telephone so they can connect with other department members and be informed about what's happening day to day
  • Decide how you'll manage time differently in order to interact effectively with job-sharing employees. It takes practice
  • Talk about communication between the people sharing the job. It requires extra effort. They need to communicate more than if the job only involved an individual and manager. Be specific about the tools they'll use to communicate. What will the daily routine be to ensure continuity?
  • Meet with HR before you and the pair begin the job share. Talk about issues to see what might come up. Run through some scenarios to see how certain problems might be handled
  • Investigate the company's policy with regard to performance management and appraisal. Most successful job-sharing arrangements review the employees individually as well as evaluate the team effort. How will you do that? Set individual and team goals
  • Question your expectations about productivity and face time. Will your ideas get in the way of this flexible work arrangement?
  • Talk about unusual crises and how they can be handled. What will the pair do when one gets ill? How will they cover during vacations? Prepare contingency plans in the event the job share doesn't work out.

Personnel Journal, September 1994, Vol. 73, No. 9, p. 94.

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