Job Sharing: The Alternative for the Executive

By Team Shaggie

By now, most of us have accepted certain adages as fact: Super Woman is a myth, we may not be able to have it all and there are only so many hours in a day. We all make choices on a daily and sometimes hourly basis about our priorities. Should we volunteer for the class trip or should we finish the project for work that is due the next day? Should we take a Pilates class or try to get home to tuck in the children? Which call do we return first, the client or our girlfriend?

Let's face it; no matter what you choose you almost always feel like you lose. But wait a minute. What if we told you that you could volunteer at school, go to Pilates, call your girlfriend, and get the report to the client while you do all that? What if we told you that there was a way for you to work part time and give your employer full time coverage? What if we told you that as a manager you would be able to get the benefit of twice as much as experience and productivity for minimal cost? Well, if you are interested in finding out about such an option, then allow us to present JOB SHARING.

Job sharing? Isn't that just a way for young mommies to work part time and have some fun with a friend from work? How could this possibly work for me at such a high level within the organization? Who will ever take this flexibility tool seriously? Why should I consider job sharing?

These are some of the questions most high-powered executives ask themselves when they hear "job sharing." They automatically discount the option as being for those less serious about their careers than themselves. We call these the job sharing myths. We "bust" these myths for a living.

We are Team Shaggie, professional job share consultants. Do not let the "silly" name fool you. We are very serious about the benefits of job sharing. We began job sharing after the births of our first children. Yes, we did opt to share a job so that we could meet the needs of our family. Together as a team, working in a commissioned sales position, we were able to increase our annual income by 50 percent while each working three days a week. (That usually gets the attention of high-powered executives.) In April of 2000, we launched ShareGoals LLC, a job share consulting company. Our shared goal is to educate Corporate America about job sharing and increase the practice as the preferred flexible work alternative.

It is true that most job share teams today are comprised of women. However, we have uncovered examples of many different types of job share teams. Job sharing does not discriminate by age, sex, race, class, education or experience. Most have selected job sharing as a way to meet the needs of their family (some to care for children-others to care for parents). Some have chosen to share their job as they pursue a higher education, others so that they may travel the world. Some have elected to share a job so they may work on a novel, train for a marathon or take flying lessons. The reasons are numerous. Rather than let these pursuits limit a driven employee's ability to succeed in a career, these creative solution seekers organized job sharing to allow for both.

This is not a new concept. Job sharing has been practiced in Corporate America for over 30 years. It has been used during times of economic prosperity to attract and retain top talent and it has been used during times of economic uncertainty to retain as many employees as possible. Job sharing, unlike some other work/life perks is economically sound, no matter what the sate of the economy.

In today's technologically defined era, employees can be reached 24/7 via cell phones, fax, computer and email. There is a need to redefine the boundaries of accessibility. Employers expect a highly committed and always available workforce. The workforce, however, is demanding a more flexible workweek. Job sharing aids in defining those boundaries for both employers and part-time professionals.

Workplace flexibility is the top requested benefit for today's labor force. It has become professionally acceptable to work flexibly or to allow your employees to do so. Options include teleworking, compressed workweek, and flextime. But, working from a remote/home location or creative hours or days can have certain drawbacks. It can be isolating for the employee who is left out of day to day goings on in the office. It may be frustrating for management and co-workers who do not have an employee available to them in person. With job sharing, however, a member of the team is always present in the office. Managers and co-workers get the face time they need and job sharers get the connection they need.

Job sharing is not the answer for everybody. We outline many of the philosophical and practical concerns of job sharing in our book "Share the Goals: How to Successfully Job Share." You must be willing and able to "share" the position. Like a winning doubles team, it takes the skills and talents of both players to succeed. It might look effortless to the crowd, but there were many hours of practice time on the courts. And, the payoff is tremendous. This is an option that most often appeals to dedicated professionals. Job sharers are individuals who have formed a partnership so they can achieve a satisfying level of professional success and status. They are more productive and more satisfied than their single co-workers. Job share teams tend to be more loyal, experience less absenteeism and are better able to serve a wider client/customer base.

In a perfect world, we would all be able to give 150 percent to every part of our lives. However, this is not reality. At some point you might need to re think about what it means to "have it all". If you choose to job share, you will not turn into Super Woman, but you will feel like a super woman with a few more hours a week to get it all done. Of course, in order to do all this, you will need to find the perfect partner. We will explore this process in our next installment.

Also see:
Exploring flexible work options
Finding work and family balance
Secrets of executive working moms

Team Shaggie is made up of two equal and interchangeable job share partners, Shari Rosen Ascher and Maggie Sisco. Before starting ShareGoals in April of 2000, they were VP/Sales at Interep Radio. Job sharing has helped them to grow professionally while meeting the needs of their families. They have published their first book "Share the Goals: How to Successfully Job Share," which is available on their website, www.sharegoals.com.

They are working on their second book that will highlight successful job share teams across the country. If you are part of a job share team or if you know a great job share team, please email Team Shaggie at teamshaggie@sharegoals.com and they will forward the interview form to the team.

   Copyright 2001 ShareGoals LLC