Flexible Work & Scheduling

Job Sharing and/or Part-Time Work

In a job share, two or more employees share a single position, each working a fraction of the necessary time. Job sharing allows employees to hold a position and still have time to spend with children or take care of other family responsibilities. A full-time employee might be allowed to shift to part-time—either as part of a job share, or simply as a reduction in working hours—and still continue in the same position. This shift can be temporary or permanent.

Benefits to Employers1

  • Increases productivity
  • Increases net worth
  • Increases retention, reducing turnover costs Increases job satisfaction

Benefits to Children2

  • Increases job satisfaction
  • Provides more time to meet family needs

Research or Recommendations from National Organizations

A significant amount of research indicates that flexibility in all forms is one of the most beneficial policies to help employees balance family and work. Having some control over when or where to work allows workers to juggle the demands of long hours and care for children, according to the National Council on Family Relations.3

Keys to making a job share work, according to the Harvard Business Review:4

  • Choose partners who can easily communicate and collaborate.
  • Decide a model for dividing the work—by task, or by day. 
  • Communicate often and clearly. 
  • Make sure management is on board.
  • Manage expectations and be prepared to battle bias that employees who job share are less committed.

Give the process time to work out any issues.Though part-time workers have traditionally had less access to family-friendly benefits, more employers are recognizing the value of including part-time and hourly workers in their policies, especially paid leave.5

Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends giving part-time workers proportionate wages and benefits compared with full-time workers, along with proportionate credit for relevant experience needed to qualify for promotions, training programs, or other employment opportunities.6

Range of Practices in the United States

Nine percent of employers have a job share policy—a percentage that’s held relatively steady for the past five years.7

Just under 18 percent of American workers are part-time, defined as working fewer than 35 hours per week.8

Part-time workers have less access to flexibility overall (39 percent), as do low-wage workers.9

This can be extra stressful for low-wage workers, who are just as likely to have responsibilities for child care as high-wage employees but have fewer financial resources and are less likely to have a partner or spouse who can share family work.10

Case Study

The Mulberry Partners

Location: Durham and Chapel Hill • Year Founded: 2003 • Number of Employees: 4

As teenagers, Betsy Polk and Maggie Ellis Chotas made a pact. After working together on a high school English project, the two vowed to work together as adults. In 2003, Polk and Chotas made good on their pact and started The Mulberry Partners, an executive and leadership coaching and consulting firm in Durham and Chapel Hill. And, as co-presidents of the firm and later co-authors of the critically acclaimed book Power Through Partnership: How Women Lead Better Together, they also started a job share.

They just didn’t call it that at first.

Betsy Polk and Maggie Ellis Chotas

“We didn’t think of our work together as a job share until we started writing our book,” Polk says. “We always thought about our work as a partnership. As we were doing research on our own book, which included research on job share partners, we realized what we were doing was job sharing.”

Chotas and Polk work with their clients to create a project to accomplish desired outcomes, collaborating to share responsibilities as needed. Sometimes, that means handing off work during a project. Sometimes, that means Polk will work more closely with one client, and Chotas with another. The key, says Chotas, is communication and clearly defined roles.

Clients appreciate that Polk and Chotas are able to seamlessly transition work and care for their needs.

“We want our clients to feel like we’re always accessible. When we started the business, we had very young children. To know that we had each other was so amazing. Working together, we never have to worry about saying no.”

“We want our clients to feel like we’re always accessible. Working together, we never have to worry about saying no,” Polk says.

For Chotas and Polk, job sharing has meant having flexibility and someone with whom to share the load.

“That’s been huge,” Chotas says. “When we started the business, we had very young children, and I was pregnant with my second at the time. Plus, we both were making transitions out of full-time positions. To know that we had each other was so amazing.”

Show 10 footnotes
  1. North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. “The Research Basis for Family-Friendly Workplaces.” June 14, 2018. Retrieved from: https://files.familyforwardnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NCECF_FFNC-policyfactsheet-061418.pdf
  2. North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. “The Research Basis for Family-Friendly Workplaces.” June 14, 2018. Retrieved from: https://files.familyforwardnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NCECF_FFNC-policyfactsheet-061418.pdf
  3. Trask, Bahira Sherif. “Alleviating the Stress on Working Families: Promoting Family-Friendly Workplace Policies.” National Council on Family Relations Policy Brief. January 2017. https://www.ncfr.org/sites/default/files/2017-01/ncfr_policy_brief_january_2017.pdf
  4. Gallo, Amy. “How to Make a Job Sharing Situation Work.” Harvard Business Review. September 23, 2013. https://hbr.org/2013/09/how-to-make-a-job-sharing-situation-work.
  5. Bolden-Barrett, Valerie. “More employers offering paid parental leave to hourly workers.” HR Dive. January 26, 2018. https://www.hrdive.com/news/more-employers-offering-paid-parental-leave-to-hourly-workers/515646/
  6. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 2007. https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/caregiver-best-practices.html
  7. Society for Human Resource Management. 2018 Employee Benefits: The Evolution of Benefits. April 2018. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Documents/2018%20Employee%20Benefits%20Report.pdf
  8. Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2017. https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat08.htm
  9. Executive Office of the President Council of Economic Advisers. “Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility.” March 2010. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/files/documents/100331-cea-economics-workplace-flexibility.pdf
  10. Bond, James T. and Ellen Galinsky. “Workplace Flexibility and Low-Wage Employees.” Families and Work Institute National Study of the Changing Workforce. 2011. http://familiesandwork.org/site/research/reports/WorkFlexAndLowWageEmployees.pdf