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In early 2020, two ambitious women reached a crossroads in their 20-year careers. Former journalist and PR director Sherelle Folkes had had enough of balancing a demanding full-time position with being a single parent.
At the same time, Nichola Johnson-Marshall, a former communications director at LinkedIn, didn’t want to choose between a full-time job and running her own coaching consultancy.
The solution? The two became part of a fast-growing corporate trend that is giving people greater enhanced work/lifestyle freedom without necessarily meaning an end to career growth: Job-sharing.
Britain’s Office for National Statistics data, for example, reveals there are around 153,000 people currently in a role share — a 35% overall increase since 2012.
There is research that such sharing provides companies with different skillsets and can raise the number of women in senior positions.
For Folkes, the price of being more present for five-year-old Sienna, and occasionally finding some downtime to avoid burnout, would have otherwise meant considering a part-time position, and a likely drop in seniority and pay.
Johnson-Marshall was already leading external communications at the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) – an organization set up by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to help younger banks operate in Britain – in a part-time, consultative capacity.
When a full-time contract became available, she was reluctant to give up her other consulting work.
So, she presented a business case to convert the new full-time contract into a job-share. Not only did she win the bosses over, she landed Folkes as her partner, bringing a complementary, rather than identical, skillset to her own expertise.
They each work three days a week, earning 60% of the salary Johnson-Marshall was initially offered to do it full-time.
“I’ve always been fascinated by credible solutions to part-time working,” Johnson-Marshall told Insider. “I coach a lot of working parents, especially women, who try to go from full-time to part-time.
“A lesson I’ve learned is, yes, it’s about me and my lifestyle. But to get business sign off, you need to present it as being valuable: how two people in one role can offer greater productivity, how you’re more likely to have happier employees, who you’re likely to retain longer.”
Job-sharing as a form of flexible working is gaining traction globally. Sam White and Will McDonald share the role of group sustainability and public policy director at Aviva, while Dr Shelagh Muir and Jane Maciver are joint VP of research and development at Unilever. Like the OBIE pair, reasons span family commitments to side businesses and passion projects.
Indeed, 41% of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For offer role sharing. Insurer Zurich made headlines recently for advertising all its UK roles as flexible, part-time, or role share. After this, the number of women being hired in senior positions rose by a third.
Despite this, there is a significant gap between availability and uptake. Figures from the Society of Human Resource Management in the US show that 2% of companies allow it for “all or most” employees and only 19% allow …read more
Source:: Business Insider