What Job Sharing Means to Families of All Kinds and the Disabled

This article first appeared on flexible work advocacy website 1 Million for Work Flexibility for National Flex Day.

flexibility, not just for working moms

When we talk about flexible work and work-life balance, much of the time we think of working mothers first. Working mothers often must make the most difficult decisions around caregiving and career. These choices can cause irreparable damage to their careers and financial futures. But as we celebrate National Work and Family Month and National Disability Awareness Month, it’s time to challenge the notion that flexibility is just a nice perk for working moms.

job sharing disabledFlexible work is a top factor for employees of every generation during a job search. Millennials are becoming parents and don’t see flex as a motherhood perk. Those caring for aging parents—up to 90% of whom are women—don’t want to decelerate their careers mid-to-senior-level. Baby boomers plan to continue working past sixty-five. At the same time, they want to spend time with grandchildren or travel with a retired spouse. Military families need to work in ways that support deployment and health needs. And disabled people need time to take care of their health while being gainfully employed.

job sharing can help work-fatigued Americans

We crave flexibility because we’re work-fatigued: Americans are working 50+ hours a week and digital overtime has become the norm, leaving 28% of us always feeling overwhelmed by technology. It’s clear that the world of work is changing. However, few flexible work practices meet 24/7 work demands while employees are able to rest, recharge, and return engaged. Job sharing is a form of flexible work that does just that.

I know this from my personal experience of job sharing and so do job sharers and their stakeholders everywhere. You might never have heard of job sharing—one of the least known, most innovative work practices—as only 19% of companies allow some employees to job share. Job sharing is a partnership between two people to share the responsibilities of one full-time position. It works in most positions and the structure is flexible but requires a handover process and seamless communication.

it’s time to change the stigma around who can work flexibly

When over 90% of HR professionals agree that working flexibly increases employee engagement, job satisfaction, and retention, it’s time to change the stigma and bias around who is allowed to work flexibly and why. Flexible work should be available for all employees and so should job sharing; it doesn’t matter why you want to job share as long as it’s a good fit for you.

However, there’s no denying that the unique structure of job sharing can make a significant impact for caregivers, allowing them to work on a part-time basis with a supportive partner while actually accelerating in their careers (over 70% of job sharers are promoted together). Blake Norton and Tracy Tanner, mothers of young children and job share business owners agree, “We’re able to work in the office part-time, be home with our kids part-time, and run a successful and growing group practice as co-directors, while also maintaining our ideal caseload for our therapy work.”

companies should trust employees to find the flex that allows them to excel

job sharing for familiesFamilies today come in many shapes and forms, and so do caregivers—single parents, adoptive or foster parents, fathers, mothers, grandparents, children of aging parents or relatives, and those in the sandwich generation. And job sharing provides disabled employees time to take care of their health, a supportive partner, and even medical benefits. Then there are those whose disabilities are not readily apparent to those who work with them. Trusting employees to assess which flexible practice fits their needs to excel at work is a win-win for all.

We’re able to work in the office part-time, be home with our kids part-time, and run a successful and growing group practice.”

Ultimately, job sharing is a practice that supports a better work-life balance for working mothers and many types of caregivers, as well as those who need time to focus on healthcare needs, like people with disabilities. If you’re looking for more flexibility, consider asking your boss if job sharing is an option. And if it’s not, you may want to start looking for a new (shared) job soon. It just might change your life.



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Melissa Nicholson job shared for nearly a decade and is the Founder & CEO of Work Muse. Work Muse drives the adoption of job sharing in business as a source of competitive advantage while helping individuals find work-life balance. Join the #JobshareRevolution here.

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