Allowing two people to fill one job role can improve your employees' quality of life, which in turn can benefit you. However, just as with any other business decision, a job-sharing program has advantages and disadvantages to consider. Although it can be easier to focus on the benefits, especially if your employees are making the request, taking the time to also consider its potential disadvantages can prevent unpleasant surprises that may not become evident until after the program begins.
Effects on HR
A job-sharing program can increase either yours or the human resource department’s workload. Since you’re still dealing with one position, the goal is to keep wage and benefit costs the same. This means that if the employees receive a salary instead of an hourly wage, you’ll need to decide how to divide the salary between the employees. This can be especially problematic with a schedule where the people don’t always work the same number of hours. You will also need to decide how to apportion vacation days, sick days, personal time, paid holidays and matching funds for employee benefits.
Issues with Regulatory Compliance
Federal and state employment laws say that you must treat every employee fairly and equally. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean you should give every employee the option to participate in a job-sharing program, you will need to create and publish a clear policy, along with specific guidelines that outline the decision-making process. In addition, you’ll need to make sure HR is complying with Fair Labor Standards Act regulations. This most likely will require periodic scheduled and unannounced internal wage reporting audits.
The “Who’s In Charge” Syndrome
According to Entrepreneur.com, the "Who's in charge" syndrome can become one of the biggest disadvantages to a job-sharing program. Without good communication and close coordination between managers and the job sharers, confusion about who’s responsible for completing specific tasks creates a lack of accountability, which can compromise an internal control system designed to protect your business from both unintentional and intentional errors, theft and fraud. In addition, important information may be lost or result in a miscommunication.
A job share environment can affect overall productivity and employee morale even with a good communication system between the job sharers. For example, if an employee from another department has a question or issue that only the off-duty job sharer can answer or handle, work may need to slow or stop until the next day. The resulting decrease in productivity and increased frustration can affect both your employees and your business in a negative way.
- Education Portal: Job Sharing: Definition, Advantages & Disadvantages
- U.S. Small Business Administration: How To Be an Ethical, Fair and Lawful Manager of Employees (While Protecting Your Interests)
- Business and Legal Resources Compensation and Daily Advisor: Job Sharing-The Advantages and Disadvantages
- Entrepreneur: The Pros and Cons of Job Sharing
Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.