If nothing else, we’ve learned just how adaptable – just how infinitely resourceful – humans can be. When COVID wrecked our daily routines, we adjusted. We built work stations from empty boxes, juggled Zoom calls around making lunches, assumed the role of part-time teacher.
Companies around Kansas City have been doing the same, testing the boundaries of their flexibility to adapt to their employees navigating their own challenges. For some companies this has meant creating alternative work schedules and allowing employees to adapt their schedules around the often competing needs of children schooling at home.
I know flexible working arrangements can make all the difference in having both a successful career and a satisfying home life—and that was before the pandemic started. I’ve shared the role of senior director of the Human Resources team with Julie Davis since 2001, an arrangement that allows for the flexibility we both need while still benefitting Morgan Hunter.
With the pandemic extending remote work for many employees, HR departments are having to find creative ways to help them balance the competing demands of work and home, especially when they occupy the same physical space. Luckily, leaders have plenty of options for flexibility that can benefit both employees and the companies they work for.
Flexible hours are a start
Without the structure of going to the office and children going to school, employees may need to work different hours. They may need the first hours of the morning to get children set up for a day of remote schooling. Those with younger kids may need a different schedule designed around eating and naps. When possible, providing choice when it comes to working hours can alleviate stress and disruptions when employees are working.
Consider job sharing
However, flexible hours may simply not be enough for some employees. Some may need to cut the hours they work to deal with the fallout from the pandemic, whether it’s children at home or ailing family members. Yet, many times these jobs can’t be done by a part-time person without leaving the company in a bind. That’s when job sharing becomes an option.
Simply put, job sharing is two employees sharing one job. Job shares look different depending on the needs of both the employees and the company. Some job shares split the days of the week while others each work a half day every day.
In my own personal experience with job sharing, I know it allowed me to keep doing a job I enjoy for much longer than I could have if I had been working full-time. Like many job share employees, Julie and I are more successful together than we could have been separately.
Job sharing has hidden benefits
Job sharing doesn’t just create flexibility for the employee; it has some hidden benefits for companies, as well. When setting up a job sharing program, some clients have used it as a mentorship program as well, pairing older, experienced employees with younger ones. This allows both employees the flexible hours they desire while also encouraging the sharing of knowledge and experience from the older worker to the younger one.
Forbes points out plenty of other job sharing benefits:
“The benefits to employers are numerous–if done right. Job sharing can increase diversity and innovation in teams, and employers immediately get two heads for one role, with the added brain power this brings. As job sharing employees have a lot of control over their working time, their motivation and engagement are also greatly increased. Job sharing also fosters transparency, collaboration and knowledge sharing, all indispensable for the success of organizations.”
It’s not right for everyone
While job sharing might appeal to a lot of people, not everyone is right for a job share. Employees need to be willing to work cooperatively and be transparent. Job sharing often requires sharing resources and leadership, which may not make it the right choice for some. Be sure that everyone understands their roles when discussing a job share, so no one is surprised by how it works.
It’s important to note one major drawback of job sharing: For many it requires a move from full-time to part-time status, which may not be an option for some employees. However, for those seeking to cut their hours, it’s a win-win for both employers and employees.
As my own experience shows, job sharing can be the ideal solution for both companies and employees seeking more flexibility and balance in their lives. And as we continue to cope with the challenges brought on by a global pandemic, those benefits just might be the solution for some in your company.
Carol Schmidt is senior director of the Human Resources team at Morgan Hunter, serving Kansas City-area employers to help them meet a range of hiring needs, from temporary staffing to direct-hire placements. Share your thoughts on Facebook, LinkedIn or on Twitter @MorganHunterCo.