Monday, 6 may 2019 | Redacción CEU
Traffic jams, calls, meetings, emails, deadlines, reports,... The current pace of work can be exhausting and frenetic. Organizations need to react to more and more complex challenges, in such a way that days become more intense, making workers undergo a higher level of stress and assume more responsibilities. All this leads to most professionals finding increasingly difficult to put together important parts of the puzzle of their lives such as work, family and free time. Work-life balance and flexibility have become pending subjects in our society. In response to this context, some organizations are beginning to bet on new work approaches. One of them is job sharing, which is a rarely applied in Spain, but increasingly popular in Europe. Will Spaniards also be willing to share job and salary?
We share cars (carsharing), houses (couchsurfing), work spaces (coworking) and even part of our savings (crowdlending and crowdfunding). Why not also share our work? That is the conclusion that was reached by the promoters of job sharing. It is a new trend that aims at dividing one job between two employees. Both occupy a unique position through the division of tasks, timetables and salary. Depending on the different category which is chosen, the professionals will also share responsibilities or not, and they will distribute their schedules according to different needs, by being able to choose different work shifts, alternate days or more flexible working hours.
Job sharing is a widespread formula in European countries such as Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom. Part of its success lies in it being an alternative that enables its advocates to make their schedules flexible and have a balance in their work and personal lives. This option is particularly useful in positions that require great dedication, in which the levels of stress are high and where it is essential to face work with concentration and energy. These are mainly high-responsibility positions with high salaries, otherwise, it would not be profitable for the professionals to opt for this modality.
The advantage for the organizations that use this model is clear: thanks to shared jobs, they are enriched by the talent of two people, and not just one. In other words, they benefit from two different points of view for the same problems. They can also achieve a higher level of performance, since professionals can face work with greater attention and enthusiasm. On the other hand, work absenteeism is lower and the distribution of vacations easier. As for the employees, they find in this model a way to gain access to positions of responsibility without neglecting to their personal life. They benefit from a more flexible working days and a more relaxed pace of work.
However, shared jobs also entail negative aspects, and open an intense debate between their supporters and detractors. One of the main arguments of their critics is that betting on job sharing may lead to a gradual labor insecurity. This happens when salaries are not high, jobs do not meet minimum quality requirements or organizations take advantage of the situation and set some tasks that are suitable for two jobs, and not for just one. They also argue that they might help to increase gender inequality, since women are mainly the professionals who end up choosing these kinds of jobs.
One of the points on which most detractors and supporters agree is that these jobs carries pose a difficult challenge: finding a balance and harmony in the work of two different professionals. Even when these professionals are in tune, their collaborators, clients or coworkers may have different preferences or attitudes depending on who the person they deal with is.
Therefore, there are certain conditions that are essential for shared jobs to become positive for both companies and employees. Of course, salaries have to be enough and the guarantees must be according to the job that these professionals perform. Some companies choose to pay these positions above the salary of a single worker, as they understand that the result of the work is enriched by the effort of both professionals. In case of not reaching a minimum, rather than helping work-life balance, shared jobs may become a cause of frustration.
Another key aspect to the success of this model is that these jobs must be shared with the right professionals. Even if they do not work together simultaneously, they will need to have a very high level of understanding. Only in this way will they be able to reach a balance and continue with the work of their partner. The idea is to offer a sense of unity and continuity. They will have to agree on organizational issues such as the division of labor and tasks, and also on more conceptual aspects such as the approach or methodology that they use.
According to the experts, it is important for professionals who share employment to maintain close communication, and it is highly advisable to set up regular meetings to share their progress. Other crucial aspect of job sharing is found in the relationship with the work environment. If people who are in contact with these professionals do not get to know their situation, problems or misunderstandings may arise. There are also certain prejudices regarding this modality as they can think that these professionals are less committed. It is important that all people who work in an organization that bets on these formulas know them well and understand what responsibilities and obligations these employees have.
For now, it is not expected that share jobs will enter Spain with force, mainly because the legislation does not support them. However, it is a strong trend in the surrounding countries, and one that may influence the future of the employment.
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