Despite the UK beginning to sense some sort of normality after an incredibly turbulent 18 months, there’s no denying that more uncertain times are ahead as the government plans to slow down, or stop completely, the level of financial support it has been giving businesses. The furlough scheme is in its last month of existence this month and businesses have already been struck with the need to begin to repay the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loans (BBLs).
For some, they have been able to tread water and stay afloat. However, for most, the government support has been a lifeline and without it, they may find themselves in an anxiety-inducing situation.
To tackle budget issues without losing staff, job sharing has become an attractive offer. However, this style of working is still incredibly rare and something that companies of all shapes and sizes have either never been accustomed to or worry it simply isn’t feasible. Nevertheless, with a year and a half of home working under most employees’ belts and with most stating a desire to continue working flexibly post-pandemic, there have been calls for making job sharing a much more mainstream option across all industries.
How does job sharing work?
In most cases (but of course not all), job sharing is a contractual agreement between an employer and two employees that says two employees share the workload of a one-person job between them over the course of five days. This usually means that one employee will work 2.5 days, as will the other.
They are both as responsible as each other for the maintenance of high standards and fulfilling workloads. Holiday is shared, as is renumeration and reward.
In 2021, there are 123,000 job sharers in the UK. The demographic for this working model usually involves those in caregiving roles or those of an older age who are looking to reduce their hours. However, anyone at any age can request a job share as long as there is a good case for it.
Can it work in Accountancy?
Job sharing is rarely seen in the Accountancy world, but it doesn’t mean it won’t work. Especially post-COVID, where we’re all already accustomed to home working and most of us now have dedicated workspaces and apt technology, I would argue job sharing makes more sense than ever for the industry.
People’s attitude towards the workplace and how they desire to progress with their career has changed dramatically. Five days a week in the office is a rarity, with some offices closing for good to make way for a fully remote culture. Going further with this, some employees no longer want to be run ragged by a five-day week either – they want to find a good work/life balance and have extra time doing things they love. Because of this, we’re undoubtedly going to witness a big spike in the number of people wanting to work part-time.
With businesses being able to offer a range of flexible working options, staff will feel a greater sense of workplace satisfaction and happiness in turn, meaning they are more likely to stay in a role for much longer. Consequently, teams will have longevity under their belt and customers will be given a continuous, high-quality service.
Job sharing won’t just be a brilliant opportunity for employees either – employers will reap the benefits. No working time will be lost as an employee moves from full- to part-time therefore, the profitability of the business will remain stable. Additionally, leaders will garner the perspective, expertise, and knowledge of two experts, not just one – a win-win situation.
There’s no reason why any industry, including Accountancy, should ever rule out a job share in its flexible working offering.
See Jo’s comments featured in ICAEW.