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Summary from Job shares: Information and Networking event

Outline of the event

  • 9am - Arrival.
  • 9.30am Rachel Sandby-Thomas introduction followed by information sharing and Q&A on:
    • Why Job Share?
    • Applying for a Job Share.
    • Working as a Job Share.
    • Managing a Job Share.
  • 11am Final Q&A, wrap-up, and networking.

Why Job Share?

Reasons provided in group discussion...

Part time, with significant experience at same grade for multiple years.

Returned after maternity leave to PT roles, but wanting progression opportunities (seeing FT peers progress).

Not necessarily due to caring responsibilities - can be about work/life balance and being able to simultaneously progress career whilst having the time to pursue other interests.

Cautious about change, given family/life commitments.

Was it possible to maintain work life balance in a more senior role? Would the increase in responsibility/volume of work make sustaining a part time working pattern impossible?

Strength and comfort in a partnership – not as daunting applying for a more senior role as a partnership.

Suggestion of a potential Job Share match by mutual line manager.

Advocacy of senior management e.g. benefits of Job Sharing that Rachel Sandy-Thomas had experienced in the civil service mentioned in ‘Reflections on a Friday’ email.

“Role model” Job Share success of other colleagues.

Senior PT roles not advertised very often.


Applying for a Job Share

For context:

July 2022 HR Update email said: “The request to advertise form (HR – R3) has recently been updated in respect of the following:

  • Flexible Working - Our default position will be to advertise all roles as suitable for Job Share in an effort to expand our applicant base. If you believe that your position cannot work on a Job Share basis, there is now a tick box on the HR – R3 form for you to indicate this. If you do not check this box the following wording will automatically be added to your advertisement: "We will consider applications for employment on a part-time or other flexible working basis, even where a position is advertised as full-time, unless there are operational or other objective reasons why it is not possible to do so."

Sense that this wording was still not clear enough with regard to encouraging potential Job Share applications.

Experiences shared of requests for part-time/flexible working/job sharing being dismissed by managers as not viable later in the recruitment process, despite this wording being included at the application stage.

Comments provided in group discussion...

Recommendations for groundwork, before advertisements go live:

  • Early, honest conversations with potential Job Share partner, to establish viability of a partnership, clarity of aspirations.
  • Take/create opportunities to work with one another.
  • Speak to colleagues at the University with experience of working as/with Job Share, to understand the reality.
  • Read up on how Job Shares work outside of the sector.
  • Speak to prospective managers/stakeholders at the start of recruitment process:
    • Establish their reaction to receiving an application from a Job Share partnership.
    • Set out benefits of a Job Share partnership, and address any concerns or questions.
    • Allow them time to consider before it gets to the interview stage.

At all application stages, you can present a Job Share package that:

  • Works for you/your Job Share partner, as well as the role/business.
  • Mitigates stakeholder concerns/questions up front.
  • Clearly lays out how the Job Share would work (as much as you can know), what the benefits would be, how you would deal with any areas of concern and complexity (e.g. communication).
  • Provides evidence of working well together previously (if possible).
  • Uses a joint statement/covering letter to outline Job Share proposal, if submitting separate applications.


Working as a Job Share

Comments provided in group discussion...

  • A very positive experience, both personally and in how we and our work has been received.
  • 1.2 FTE role, covering the full working week, overlapping on Wednesdays.
  • Clarity of working patterns with colleagues, but instilling sense of “it doesn’t matter which of us you speak to”.
  • Use of a resource account to send and receive emails/arrange meetings that we both need to be aware of.
  • Thorough handovers to each other, using email, work plans, Excel log, in-person time.

Benefits for Job Share partners

  • Ability to maintain part time working pattern in a full time challenging role.
    Individual and joint catch ups with line manager, means that discussion about personal development is not overlooked.
  • Roles change over time - requiring different skill sets, so learning from each other and developing in a Job Share is great for mutual support.
  • Overlap time gives opportunity for reflection, discussion of progress and ambitions, and re-prioritisation: something you rarely do alone in a role
  • Two heads are better than one - especially when working in new, formative projects where there is no template to follow.
  • Peer support – learn from each other, helps personal and professional development, sharing/reducing stress, increases resilience.
  • More effective and balanced decision making - in discussing a tricky issue on our handover day we can decide and move forward more quickly than otherwise we might.
  • Work more objectively - less agonising over decisions/difficult situations, can be handled together. In uncertain and challenging times, a sense check for each other can maintain a clearer view of the situation than an individual might do.
  • Influencing - strength in numbers, and if there is a need to emphasise a point, our voice is louder because there are two people.
  • Increased momentum and less procrastinating - things are not put off until later, due to the need to hand things over to your colleague.
  • Career progression opportunity, whilst maintaining good work/life balance.

Challenges for Job Share partners

  • Need to be very organised and realistic.
  • Need to have strong communication skills.
  • Need trust in and respect for each other.
  • Need to recognise and utilise each other’s skills.
  • Need to back your Job Share partner.
  • Need to be objective about work.
  • Need to be mindful of the potential impact on the team if there is confusion on a matter.
  • Need to undertake continual review and improvement of our working methods.
  • Need to appreciate that handovers take time.
  • Need to have full commitment to partnership working.


Managing a Job Share

Reasons for supporting a Job Share partnership as a manager, comments provided in group discussion...

Two lots of experience, complementary skills and knowledge in one role.

Higher quality of output with two brains working on and reviewing plans/papers etc, prior to manager sign-off.

Continuity of service and less impact from annual leave.

Greater momentum - commitment to progress work to the point of handover.

Constant review, reflection, and reprioritisation of work in the role, as part of handover.

Resilience and built-in support for each other in the role - trust to advance work in each other’s absence.

Supports colleagues in achieving the desired work-life balance, which encourages flexibility in role.

Supports colleagues in progression.

Succession planning.


Next steps/Follow up actions

Job Share partners to produce one-page profiles on their Job Share to be hosted online/featured in an insite article. This would explain the kind of things covered at the Job Share event, for example:

  • What their role is,
  • Why they decided to Job Share,
  • How they applied, and
  • How they work on a day-to-day basis.

(Action: current Job Share partners).