Flexible work is for everyone. That’s right, flexible work really is for everyone, regardless of parental status, gender, or reason. LinkedIn’s 2019 “Global Talent Trends” report reveals a 78% increase in job posts that mention work flexibility in just two years. This is just one of the findings that have led the career social networking giant to declare flexible working is no longer a perk, but an expectation employers need to deploy stat.
Not only should every employee have equal access to flexible work, but the type taken should be as individual as the employees themselves, based on how they work best. Of all the flexible work practices, there is one that stands apart as sheer genius for working moms: job sharing. If you’ve never heard of job sharing, you’re not alone; it’s remained the unicorn of flexible work. At Work Muse, we’ve defined job sharing as a partnership between two people to share the responsibilities of one full-time position.
Mothers are often faced with the most difficult choices between career and caring. Sadly, the U.S.’s outdated workplaces were not designed for the modern workforce, one made up of half women. As a result, even though only 2% of women plan to leave their jobs after having children, a jaw-dropping 43% of educated women opt out or drop out of the workforce after they become mothers. While not for everyone, if job sharing is a fit, it can be a game changer for working moms. Here’s why.
Part-Time; High Impact
Job sharing means women who’ve often put a decade or more into their careers when they become mothers, are able to work part-time in a high-impact role. They’re not forced to choose between cultivating a rewarding career or being a great mom.
Part-time work is desirable, but the stigma against part-time work is not. Job sharing enables mothers to work part-time without forsaking professional development or promotion. Job share teams are able to achieve solution-driven results fueled by the synergy of two. In fact, over 70% of job share teams are promoted as a team!
Actual, Real Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is a loaded term these days. Many prefer integration, fit, or even work-life conflict arguing ‘balance’ sets women up for failure. I get it, I really do. But after interviewing hundreds of job share teams (and job sharing myself for years), work-life balance is the term job sharers first use to describe what they’ve found. The reason being, the structure of job sharing allows people to separate and prioritize their work and personal lives to bring their best to each. For example, I laser-focused on work three days a week, spent three days unplugged and engaged with my children, and saved one day just for me every week. In our nonstop work world, what mom wouldn’t want that?
It’s no secret the United States has a culture of overwork, but globalization and advances in technology have taken work demands to a new unsustainable level. Working, racing to after-school activities, and then tending to bath, dinner, and bedtime rituals before hopping back online to work into the wee hours has become the norm for many moms.
Although more men seem committed to the equal division of labor for household chores, traditional gender roles persist. The exhausting “invisible labor” of coordinating kid schedules and helping them cope with schoolwork and relationships often falls to moms. For this reason, time can be especially meaningful to working mothers. Job sharing allows mothers to spend time with their children while shining in their professional lives.
The most successful job share teams combine compatible partners with complementary skill sets. Naturally, job share partners learn from one another, play to their strengths, and collaborate for better results.
Job sharing is a stellar solution for working moms looking to transition professions or relaunch after a career break. According to Julia Freeland, a coach who helps women returners, “Stay-at-home parents are developing the very skills that employers of the future are looking for” but limiting stereotypes prevent them from utilizing them. Job sharing gives those in transition a supportive partner to onramp and upskill them with the flexibility they likely still need—all without returning to a junior-level position.
Higher Job Satisfaction; Loads More Fun
While flexibility is the primary reason most begin job sharing, those whom do it say the most enriching benefit of job sharing is the partner relationship itself. Job sharers express fulfillment working in an intimate team of two with a partner who holds them accountable and supports them in work and life. Likewise, having a partner to tackle challenges and create solutions with, one who has your back and steps in during times of need, makes the job itself more fun.
Job share success is dependent on a good fit for the employee, the right partner, and management support. The personal and career rewards are great, but the stakes are higher: partners share their career, income, and personal life with one another. Ask yourself: Are you a committed high performer? Do you enjoy collaboration? Do you have strong communication skills with a flexible attitude? If you exhibit many of these qualities, you could be a great candidate for job sharing. And it could be genius for your life, especially if you’re a working mom.
Melissa Nicholson is the founder and CEO of Work Muse, a job share solution firm. Work Muse is passionate about supporting people, developing their talent, and creating the strongest results at work while allowing employees to prioritize work and life. It brings training, implementation, and support to ensure job share program success.
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