Five surprising reasons why the world's best companies are choosing to "split" jobs.

Five surprising reasons why the world's best companies are choosing to "split" jobs.

Written by Sophie Smallwood

The age-old construct of jobs – one person, one job – is getting a makeover.
Jobs are literally splitting up. A growing number of the world’s best companies the likes of Microsoft, SAP, and Zurich Insurance are offering job share as a way to drive more diversity, surface new talent, and support employees through transitions, all while sustaining business continuity.

Derrick McCourt, General Manager of Microsoft UK's Customer Success Unit, has experienced a vast number of benefits from opening jobs to be shared, as such he is "I am moving to a position within my organization, that every role that we advertise is to be advertised as role share potential. So we're moving to a culture of why would you not do this?" Also, fractional jobs are on the rise for startups seeking qualified leaders on a part-time basis. As more skilled professionals enter the career portfolio workforce, companies are having to redesign jobs to remain competitive by retaining and attracting the best talent - who want to "belong" in a company but not on a Monday to Friday basis. 

Where part time may cause a loss in desired business continuity, job share can solve for both for SMB and mid to large enterprises.

Many skilled professional face sustainability challenges in enterprise at transition points in life. The more strategic or senior the job the more inflexible it becomes. The government, education, charity, and health sectors have used job sharing resourcefully to accommodate for talent shortages. And In the private sector 50% of the world's best companies offer job share as a way to retain and attract new talent – up 15% since 2019 according to Fortune. Often,  job share is seen as great for working parents. It is. However, other uses cases are coming to light as a way to enable  companies in supporting employee transitions and sustaining business continuity.

Effectively manage career portfolios.

Polly Howden, Chief Product Officer at Roleshare - a platform matching professionals to co-apply for jobs, works on a part-time basis both with Roleshare and Not On The High Street - an online marketplace for unique gifts. As the businesses evolve from the need for fractional leadership to full time, she is keen to move into a job share. “I have a great deal of faith in the role share model as an enabler for finding balance for other commitments as well as being measured on outcomes and impact” says Howden. The motivation to remain agile across two part-time jobs Howden says is tied to the benefit of “constant learning, never being bored, building an incredible network and spending time with smart, driven people. There’s also a cross-pollination at times. I learn something in one role that I can apply in another. The businesses are non-competitive. This normally happens in a linear way but this learning is accelerated with multiple jobs in parallel.” 

Get more quality output while employees realize their dreams.

Céline Barral who shared multiple senior leadership roles with Hervé Chastel in finance at Hewlett-Packard, where they managed teams between 18 to 120 people, says job share helped her reach a perfect balance. “At work, I felt always full of energy and motivation, due to the fact I got enough rest time. In my personal life, I could achieve one of my dreams, to be a science-fiction writer.” For HP the job share meant more quality and more quantity. “More quality, as you have two brains and two sets of skills instead of one. In particular, it improves strategic thinking and reduces risk. Obviously, you can still make mistakes but it is less likely!” Today, Céline advises startups with financing, and is also a coach to professionals who want to share senior jobs. 

"I could achieve one of my dreams, to be a science-fiction writer."

- Céline Barral, who shared a leadership role at HP for 10 years.

Undivided attention through continuing education.

Roleshare’s Co-Founder, Dave Smallwood, completed his executive EMBA at London Business School while working full time at PayPal, and during that time also became a father. “Ironically, dividing my leadership role at the time would’ve enabled me to give undivided attention to both work, school, and be more balanced at home too.” Ada’s List, a community aimed to connect women in digital, recently appointed co-CEOs. Khaleelah Jones and Mara Larson-Richard are both working 3 days in a hybrid role share – they share some duties jointly, while also owning certain areas individually. “Sharing our role means I am able to progress with my EMBA and execute on this highly-demanding role in line with a brilliant partner whose perspectives complement mine for the benefit of the business and our community” says Larson-Richard.

When employees need support to carry on.

When Lucy Carter became a widow and a single parent to a young daughter, she said “role sharing enabled me to continue my career as well as dedicate real time and energy to being a parent. I now feel I’m better at my job, having someone to talk issues through with that genuinely understands all aspect of the role and bring a different perspective.” She and Debra Dean are Co-Directors of HR, EMEA Capital Markets and Valuations Advisory at JLL. Through this tragic life event, the opportunity to share a role not only provided Lucy the support she needed from JLL, but in sharing a role she and Debra say they “are able to consider issues from a variety of lenses before coming to an agreed way forward. As a result, we have found we are bolder and quicker in our decision making.”

Socially responsible succession planning.

Mass retirements are causing a shortage of talent supply in certain markets. As such companies are exploring career models to retain the knowledge with succession planning. Job share is a great way to stagger out retirement with immersive multi-generational knoweldge transfer, allowing older workers to build up new skills and enabling proper succession planning. Adele Cestari, Global Talent and Diversity & Inclusion Head for Nestle Waters, said she envisions a workforce where junior talent operate with senior talent sharing a role, "it's learning for a cycle or two or three years to be ready to operate in the full job."

A famous adage says, "we might all be going through the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat." In normalizing new and diverse ways of working lies a pathway to more equality and sustainability in the workforce and society.

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