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More employers embracing job shares and part-time working

Timewise's Power Part Time list reveals a record number of senior-level positions are being shared

Nearly half (46%) of business decision-makers would consider hiring candidates for a senior role on a job share basis, according to research from flexible jobs board Timewise.

Timewise reveals its Power Part Time list today – a roll call of UK men and women doing senior and business-critical roles on less than full-time hours. This year 27 of the 50 people who make up the list (which is now in its fifth year) were hired on a part-time basis.

The list also includes a record number of senior job shares: nine out of the 50. These job shares include joint leaders of the Green Party Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, joint political editors of The Guardian Anushka Asthana and Heather Stewart, and joint Lloyds Banking Group HR directors Alix Ainsley and Charlotte Cherry.

Ainsley and Cherry were hired into their HR director, group operations role as a job share partnership, having previously worked as a job share at GE. They will have been job share partners for four years in May. In their current role they work three days a week each, and both work on Wednesdays.

They told HR magazine that the job share arrangement is the perfect way to maintain work/life balance while still progressing in their careers.

“Being in a job share gives that confidence and sense of belief to move to a bigger job; the fact we were doing it together pushed us on,” said Cherry.

“With a job share the worlds come together more effectively,” Ainsley added. “You have more ability to switch off because you have to respect your partner but you are still on progression. [The role at Lloyds] is an exciting role and it’s not a holding one, which is what part-time work can feel like.”

They added that making a job share work involves a lot of commitment and “behind the scenes management”. “Critical to success is having a set of shared values,” said Ainsley. “We’ve got a set of shared values and beliefs that drive decision-making.”

“You have to be more invested in joint success than your own,” she added.

On the benefits that an organisation can gain from being open to job sharing, Cherry highlighted “the additional capacity, energy and drive” that comes from having two people rather than one. “You are bringing more brain power to the business,” she said. “There’s a huge connectivity benefit for the business. And to have that visible support of the agile working agenda is a big cultural shaper for an organisation.”

She added that these benefits can outweigh the extra cost of having to pay for a six-day week rather than a five-day one.

Ainsley advised any bosses managing a job share to “reward the success of the joint delivery”. “You want to manage people as individuals, but we want our success to be joint success,” she explained.

Timewise co-founder and joint CEO Karen Mattison welcomed the rise in job shares on the Power Part Time list.

She told HR magazine the increase demonstrates a “willingness from business to embrace a different way of designing jobs”.

“I don’t feel job shares are the future and part time isn’t,” she added. “Just like there are a whole range of reasons people want to work flexibly, there’s also a whole range of flexible options. It’s a cocktail. The main advice is to be open. Start with the design of the role and then think about the ways flexibility can work.”