One of the challenges we face from an HR perspective is how to empower women in the workplace. After all it is not uncommon for a female graduate to be placed in a new job, work hard and fast, be promoted, meet a partner, start a family and go on maternity leave.
Returning a few months later, repeat the hard work, just a bit more stressed as her home duties have increased and two years later continuing to add another blessing to the family unit. Once again having to take the time off work. At this point many young career women consider the possibility of staying at home to raise the young ones.
Returning to work 5 years later is however a great challenge as by this stage the working landscape has changed. Often these women return to their place of employment only to start all over again. Maybe not from scratch, but often not as management. Almost certainly not at the same level as their male counterparts who have not had any long term breaks.
This is where job sharing is at its most powerful. Should this same mom be able to continue her work in a shared role, it would mean staying up to date with all the new processes, procedures and learning that continues in the organisation whilst still giving her the flexibility needed to be a present and engaged parent. The ideal scenario.
What are the potential pitfalls that HR should be aware of though?
Firstly it will be essential that there is great communication, trust and accountability between the sharing partners.
The expectations will need to be clear between all role players and it will be essential that the organisation allows a budget for combined hours as the handover aspect is critical for maximum productivity.
The organisation could possibly be landed with double training budgets, possibly increased cost to company expenses such as data, server hosting etc.
What are the benefits to an organisation considering this approach?
- Number one on the list must be collaborative decision making enhancing quality of said decision making
- Seamless availability within that role (when one is on holiday another stays put)
- Less disruption should one of the sharing partners leave
- Less likely that workforce gets burnt out, normally preceded by poor decision making and decision making
- Staff Retention
- Meeting equity requirements
- Possible savings on support staff salaries
Debbie is the MD at Staff Training, providing soft skills and leadership training for South Africans since 2000. Should you wish for Staff Training to put together an annual training package for you covering aspects of management, wellness and self-mastery, please email [email protected]