A swath of predominantly female job sharers is working its way up the ranks of corporate Australia – and these women are forcing a rethink of the types of roles that lend themselves to job sharing.
This is definitely the case for Australia’s most powerful part-timers: duo Melinda Chaponnel and Sarah Bailey began their job-sharing career in 2012 at National Australia Bank. They are now at Australia Post: Chaponnel and Bailey share the title of general manager, Finance.
Job sharing is also a good way to build a pipeline of senior women in the business.
It was luck more than anything that brought them into the same role at NAB. Both had been at the bank for some time and applied for the same role. Showing remarkable foresight, their manager suggested they put forward a business case for a job-sharing arrangement.
Flexible work specialist Penny Holt of Seed Recruitment & Search says it’s worth the effort for large businesses to look for recruits such as Chaponnel and Bailey.
“It is hard to find people with complementary skills who can communicate well and work well together,” she explains. “They also need to be able to put their ego aside, share the ups and downs of the job, and take joint credit and responsibility.”
The skills required to operate effectively in a shared role are also the ones broadly prized across the business. Although job sharing can be complicated, it opens up companies to recruiting more experienced and talented staff, Holt says.
“There needs to be a good structure and agreement in place in advance,” she says. “There are the drawbacks such as how to manage leave, what if one person performs well and the other doesn’t, and how to end the job share, but these can be overcome.”
Part of the challenge, according to Holt, is that often job-share roles are created as as a reaction: offered as a job share only because they could not otherwise be filled. She says it’s better for organisations to structure job sharing into their overall recruitment strategy, before recruitment becomes an issue.
“Often organisations only look at job share when they find it hard to attract talent to a certain position, so they resort to hiring someone on a part-time basis as they are desperate,” Holt explains.
“Companies should contemplate job sharing more often as it is also a good way to build a pipeline of senior women in the business.”
By creating job-share structures within recruitment, businesses can tap into a talented pool of mostly senior women who may otherwise leave the corporate world if they cannot not secure a flexible role.
Moreover, Holt points out that job sharing opens up a rethink of structures and position descriptions to make certain roles more effective through sharing.
“It comes down to job design and management and thinking more broadly about a job,” Holt says.
- can open the doors to a pool of senior candidates who would otherwise leave the workforce
- is most effective when built into the HR strategy rather than created as a reaction to staff shortages
- is most effective when good structure and arrangements are settled prior to the role commencing
- is most effective for jobs with clear, measurable outcomes
- boosts productivity when the job sharers have complementary skills