Job-Sharing: A Win-Win for Employees and Employers
Employers and employees are increasingly aware of the need to strike the right balance between work and personal life. Work-life balance, as it is known, has inspired employers to develop new work models. One such model is job-sharing.
What is job-sharing exactly? Put simply, it is a work model in which two employees share one job with the same duties and responsibilities on different days of the week. For example, an employee who wants to spend more time with a newborn child may work Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while a second employee, who would prefer to work less but does not want to leave the workforce entirely, will work Thursdays and Fridays. The job remains a full-time position – clients and colleagues expect their needs and concerns to be addressed just as much as they were in the standard work model, but now they are supported by two people.
Making It Work
One key to a successful job-sharing work model is to structure it correctly. The two employees who share one job need to coordinate their duties carefully since only one of them will be in the office at any given time. For example, Maja – a relationship manager in Zurich – shares a job advising staff clients with her colleague Gülhan. Maja, who first began job-sharing in 2012 when she returned to work after having her first child, works Wednesday afternoons through Fridays, while Gülhan works Mondays and Tuesdays. Maja needs to make sure she doesn't schedule any appointments for herself on the days she's not in the office. And if a client needs help on the days when she is not available, then Gülhan will step in.
It is important for the arrangement to be structured in a way that the other team members understand and accept. As Maja notes, "Having the support of your other colleagues on the team is important." Sabina, a line manager of Maja and Gülhan, echoes: "I think you generally have to be open to the home office option and, as a manager, you have to be able to help make it possible."
This leads to the other key element of successful job-sharing: communication. Employees need to keep careful track of what happens on the days they're in the office and pass on this information to the person who shares the job. The lack of one piece of information can cause serious problems for the other employee, and for the bank. What Maja also finds helpful is the two employees having similar work styles: "While Gülhan and I are very different personally, our work styles are very similar."
Contrary to what some may believe, while employees who share jobs do not come into the office every day, they are full members of the team, and their contributions to the department and the bank are essential to overall success. They work just as hard as their colleagues, with all the duties and responsibilities that entails, and all the recognition for the joint successes.
Another common misconception is that most job-sharers are women – because they are the ones, so the thinking goes, who are likely to care for a child or an aging parent. In fact, both men and women alike take advantage of the opportunities job-sharing brings, whether it's to spend more time with family or to achieve a better balance between work and personal life. Linus and Luka, mortgage experts in Zurich, are an example of such a male job-sharing duo.
Benefits for All
Employers, too, reap benefits from job-sharing. Employees who have more time to themselves – whatever the reason may be – are more apt to come into the office fully focused and ready to tackle the work at hand, without undue stress or lingering concerns in the back of their mind.
Linus explains why this arrangement makes him more productive than if he were to do the job by himself five days a week: "There's more time to recover, so you can better keep up with the fast pace when you're back in the office."
What makes the job-sharing model appealing for Sabina is the additional opinion: "I think it's a huge advantage to be able to get two opinions or two suggestions regarding a particular issue. That usually means more added value for our clients, too."
Keeping Employees Happy
Ultimately, job-sharing is one more tool that employers have available to ensure their employees have the flexibility they need. Credit Suisse is fully aware that its employees have lives outside of work, and that sometimes personal needs will take precedence. That is why it is committed to flexible and innovative work models.