Written by Sophie Smallwood, Co-founder of Roleshare
"People are living longer and having to work longer. Being able to sustain meaningful careers healthily through life transitions is core to retaining a productive workforce and building better, people-centric societies."
Every day skilled professionals leave companies. They're leaving because they're burnt out, or want or need more flexibility, in inflexible jobs. Here is the sad truth. The more strategic and senior the role, the more stressful and more inflexible the job.
Losing employees costs billions. It also harms gender representation and diversity, because more diverse employees are more likely to quit inflexible jobs. Women, in particular, working the second shift, are forced to make this tough choice between rewarding work and family needs, either aging parents or young children. Losing employees costs billions. It also harms gender representation and diversity.
This is a problem beyond the realms of remote, gig, or hybrid working. Employees often need more flexibility at transition points in life - parenting, health, education, career pivots, unexplored passions, retirement, etc. And employees do not want to feel defeated by the need or desire to flex. They're switching course and finding better working cultures and better working arrangements. Often that means working one of more partial roles. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) expects 50% of skilled professionals will be in career portfolios, working one or more part-time jobs, by 2030.
"This is the start of the employee-led workforce."
Can you hear the faint cry of "Freedom!" This is the start of the employee-led workforce. The workforce you can't own, but whose diverse vocational pursuits will bring in vast amounts of diversity and innovation. With space to be free comes loyalty. How companies handled the COVID pandemic and the instant shift in work arrangements put a magnifying glass on loyalty. Why should employees be loyal? Why should they put all their time in one job? The pandemic showed how important it is to diversify revenue streams. More importantly, it's made people question. Question why they're doing what they're doing, where they're working, and how they want to spend their time working on this gorgeous planet.
"We diversify our investments, why not our career opportunities?"
Like many skilled professionals in enterprise, I too evaluated my whole aspirations of work, life, and passions. I found myself at a major transition point in life when trying to balance a demanding role at a great company and a young family. As someone who deeply identifies with my professional persona, I wanted to stay the course on my career trajectory. I was a straight "A" student, a top performer at work - now wasn't the time to scale back. I looked into part-time jobs but quickly realized they weren't right for my ambitions and purpose. And how would I compare to my colleagues working the equivalent to full-time?
Photo: Sophie Smallwood, Co-founder of Roleshare.com
"I didn't want to set myself up to be less promotable."
Professionals working part time have just a 21% chance of being promoted within the next three years, compared to 45% for their full-time counterparts. When working part time, what happens to continuity for the rest of the team who are working full time? When one team player is part time, it can be seen as creating an unfair burden on the rest of the team - a majority of professionals working part time feel judged by peers.
The more strategic or senior the job, the more inflexible it becomes. This inflexibility manifested through "always on" work cultures is one of the leading factors behind burnout. Burnout, according to the World Health Organization, cost the global economy $1trillion per year in lost productivity. It is also of the major reasons behind lack of gender representation in senior roles. This goes beyond working mothers. It's a workforce expectation. According to a Harvard Business School and BCG Report, Building the On Demand Workforce, companies are having to adjust their ways of working to attract younger workers who have new expectations about employment, including more flexibility, autonomy, and purpose. Companies are also having to invite new ways of working to retain knowledge as the aging workforce and mass retirements are leading to a decline in talent supply.
"Time is the great divider."
People and enterprises are now totally intertwined. Companies are nothing without people - even with automation and AI moving into our labor force. But enterprises operate on the premise of a never-ending work day; they often need to operate 24/7 to service the needs of customers, and to compete in the market. This time differential is the source of friction when professionals enter transition points in life, where the need for scaling back time on the job might arise. So how can we get to a more sustainable approach to people and human resource management with business continuity?
"Sharing a job was the most promising working solution to meet my career aspirations for meaningful strategic work with a sense of balance and belonging."
As I continued my search for a solution to a problem skilled professionals, like me, faced around the need for flexibility at transition points in life, the concept of job sharing (which I'd come across years prior) resurfaced. That. That was the solution. As luck would have it (or lack thereof), finding someone to partner with in a job share and finding a job to share was practically impossible; even if 50% of the world's best companies offer job share, up 15% since 2019, according to Fortune. How could I take luck out of this equation? If people could find partners in love online, why not partners in work? This explorative process drove me and my co-founder, Dave (also) Smallwood, to build a solution to help upgrade the age-old construct of jobs - one person, one job - into the modern sharing economy. Airbnb, Uber, WeWork - they've created massive opportunities in the sharing economy - and created millions of jobs. Wouldn't it be awesome to do the same for jobs? Meet Roleshare.
Recognized by the World Economic Forum as a solution in investable pathways to economic transformation, Roleshare.com is a platform matching professionals to co-apply for jobs. Our technology solution helps companies to retain employees at risk of churn, while also helping surface untapped talent for jobs. We exist to enable a diverse and sustainable workforce. Because enjoying meaningful work regardless of where you are in life and enjoying life are directly related. Happy people, happier families, healthier communities, better societies.