As more and more parents seek flexible working patterns a high proportion of this group are mums returning to work post maternity or after a career break.
We are seeing evidence of organisations working with flexible policies and they are embracing work-life balance. This is all very well and part time jobs have mostly been the option for working parents, however some businesses would benefit even more if they thought about a job share perhaps?
Even the best intended part time roles present challenges and unfortunately some working mums can end up even more stressed and over worked keeping the balance when working reduced hours. Many companies do compromise and really value returning mums and offer pretty much the same job with reduced hours. The main problem here is that unless the role is tailored to the output required, then the employee ends up squeezing more hours into fewer days. If you have a supportive boss and team which is what I experienced allowing me to work at full speed and be challenged, however at times I found it very tough. This isn’t always the fault of the organisation. If they are encouraging more women back to work as they realise the benefits of talent retention and skill, but the roles on offer are confined to set part time hours then it can sometimes turn out untenable for both parties.
Some organisations on the other hand offer part time roles where they can but are highly sensitive to reducing hours within client facing roles and some positions with high strategic content. Fair enough but by planning and structuring business needs around women wishing for more flexible working patterns they could be in more advantageous position.
I have never personally experienced job sharing in my career however I worked with a few clients over my time who operated in this work pattern and demonstrated efficiency and success.
A success story I recently heard of is of when a Global organisation restructured a client facing business team and it was decided that the roles would ideally be full time. The situation arose at a time when a couple of returning mums (ideally searching for flexible working) who figured that with their wealth of experience and relationship with their clients it would be a loss to the business if they were not to be a part of the team. Collectively they presented to the business that they could perform the role as a job share. Armed with the positives and not so much of a mention of many negatives they won over the support of the business leaders and since then have been successfully sharing a client facing, highly operational role between themselves for over 3 years now. They are delighted to have their flexible opportunity along with continuing to work in such a business. The clients themselves are equally satisfied to have the sustained relationship and level of service commitment. A real key to achieving their success is that they compliment each other extremely well with their skills and experience but more importantly work ethic and professional attitude.
If more businesses could think wider and not see a job share as a risk, but a positive retention of talented and skilled working mums who can continue to deliver and probably more efficiently too.
I think some guidelines are equally essential to consider when structuring such a position(s);
- An accurate workload agreed and divided equally
- Very clear lines of communication
- Clear lines of communication is compulsory between job sharers
- Compliment each others skills/experience along with work ethic and professional attitude
Did you know it is National Work-Life Week? www.workingfamilies.org.uk, sponsored by Unum, will take place from 26th to 30th September.
This is organised by the UK’s work-life charity Working Families, the week will shine a light on the growing importance of family-friendly and flexible working.
How can this work for you and your company…
As an employer
This is a perfect opportunity to review work-life policies. Companies can use this chance to demonstrate commitment to their staff by choosing ways to retain their staff and become an employer of choice.
As an employee
A week dedicated to work-life balance can be used to motivate fellow staff by raising understanding and involvement in network groups and staff associations. This is a great opportunity to spread the word on diversity and the promotion of flexible working for carers and parents.
As an organisation
Companies can use this opportunity to demonstrate and practice work-life balance. Competitions for voting for the “best boss”, “bring you child to work day”. Some organisations go as far as launching well being initiatives – fitness, stopping smoking, healthy eating and promoting more home-working to assist families when there is illness and a need for flexibility etc. Some of these ideas and more give companies a chance to stand out and become desirable employers.
Is you company taking part in National work-life week? If so, what are they focussing on?
As the world in which we live is going through such a change organisations would be worth adopting new policies and moving with the times. I think we will see the working pattern shifting towards greater flexibility and home-working for instance as companies looks to retain top talent and reduce costs. These are only a few examples where businesses can demonstrate best practices.