I am more than qualified to talk on the subject as I share the role of
features editor with a colleague. We have been doing this for the past ten
months and it works well, mostly because we make it work.
To underpin my own experiences I thought I’d call round to gauge the views of
a few senior HR experts, some of whom it turns out share their jobs with others,
and echo my positive experiences.
But what’s really interesting about my research on the topic is that most job
sharers are women, and mostly but not exclusively women returning to work after
having had children. Another point worth mentioning is that, for the most part,
the setup has been instigated and negotiated by the individuals, rather than the
company having an established policy on the matter.
For decades women have been leaving accountancy to have children, and not
returning. It’s has been one of the biggest talent drains on firms. Given the
latest recruitment research showing that the fight to hire accountants with the
right skills goes on, the issue is even more pertinent than ever.
The reasons why women don’t return to work are varied. Sometimes the reason
is unrelated to work, but it is impossible to dismiss employers’ inflexibility
over employment structures for the fact that many don’t return.
The benefits for businesses seem obvious. You get two peoples’ skills,
knowledge, experience, views and ideas to tap into. Yes, it involves a bit of
broader thinking and perhaps better planning but it certainly doesn’t cost as
much money as recruiting.
Employers get to entice back into their workforce former employees who have
vital job and company knowledge.
Another point that a HR expert made is that usually job sharers work as hard
in, say, three days, as those working full-time and are ‘grateful’ for the
opportunity to be able to combine work and motherhood or other interests.
Gratitude is not something that should weigh too heavily on employees but
hard-working, diligent staff are clearly being overlooked because of employers’
lack of foresight and wisdom.
It’s a win-win situation; employers get to share the benefits of employment
among more people and save money. What more could they possibly want.
Michelle Perry is features editor of Accountancy
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