Tread carefully when approving job-sharing arrangements

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Issue: Two employees ask to share one job: Should your organization approve it?

Risk/benefit: Job sharing can improve retention and boost morale, but it also can spark negative side effects.

Action: Use the following advice from your peers when considering such requests.

Job sharing isn't for everybody ... or every job. It's a concept that carries serious pros (reduced turnover, improved morale, family-friendly feel) and cons (additional employees, possible benefit costs and management issues).

Should you let people share a job? Members of our online forum, The HR Specialist Forum (www.hrspecialist.net), weighed in recently on the question. Here are four key issues they urge you to consider when weighing a job-share arrangement:

1. Scheduling. "The most successful pairs I've seen usually work Monday to Wednesday and Wednesday to Friday, with Wednesday being a partial day for both [employees] and having a one- or two-hour overlap for ease of transition," says Ann, an HR professional in Seattle. "This re-quires additional pay, but the stability and quality can more than make up for this." Make sure someone is able to work the full week during vacations or illnesses.

2. Communication. "This can work only if you have compatible employees who will assist each other and communicate well," says HR professional Judith Hayes. "Each employee must leave good notes for the other on what has and hasn't been done. We're doing this with a receptionist position, and it's working really well."

3. Benefits. Most employers who offer job sharing prorate salary and benefits for job-sharers based on their hours. Others don't offer benefits because job-sharers, as part-timers, don't qualify, which could actually save money. Before employees shift into job sharing, make sure they understand how it will affect their benefits.

4. Duties/work space. "Set a division of labor in job descriptions," says HR pro Barb Rosolowski. "And if the two people share one work space, they should have designated storage in that space. That way, you can avoid a fuss over 'Where's my favorite pen?'"

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