Four ways to be successful while job sharing
Can you have a successful career if you work part-time?
According to the panel members of the discussion organized at Unilever Europe’s headquarters on October 18th, the answer is, yes! Unilever’s agile working approach is championing flexibility and choice for their people, but the examples of successful job shares are not yet widely known.
And thus, LEAD Network Ambassador Fatma Tek brought together a panel consisting of Hanneke Faber, President Unilever Europe, LEAD Network Executive Director Sharon Jeske, and two Unilever employees, Angela Kennepohl and Daphne van den Hoek who share a job in Supply Chain.
four ways to be succesful
1. Make the business case
First and foremost, a job share should add value to the business. In her argumentation, Hanneke was clear that if it’s good for business, there’s no reason why not to facilitate flexible working options. Jeroen Bronzwaer, the line manager of Angela and Daphne, confirmed this notion: “Next to offering flexibility to employees – thus retaining talent we would otherwise potentially lose – the total value to the business is much larger than the 1,2 FTE (full time equivalent) it ‘costs’ – you get twice as much expertise and knowledge, sometimes with slightly different fields of expertise. It’s like buy one and get one free.”
2. Act as if you are one person
Job sharing only works if you work seamlessly together. That means arranging practical things like managing one email account and have one handover day. But it also means letting your stakeholders feel that you are one person. Hanneke Faber experienced this when she recently joined Unilever: “When I was visiting Unilever in Germany, I met Chan, marketing Vice President Refreshment. Actually, Chan proved to be not one but two ladies, Christina and Angela. They share a job and are brilliant in working together.”
3. Find a complementary ‘you’
Do a personality test upfront, as you do not want to end up with a person that is the exact opposite of you: someone who works very neatly will most likely have difficulties collaborating with a chaotic person. Daphne and Angela work so seamlessly together because they share the same work ethic. It’s important to really get to know each other to see if there is a match, before starting a job share.
4. Find a complementary ‘you’
A great insight from the panel discussion was that flexible working and job sharing is also possible for higher work levels. As a matter of fact, a job share could even be a gateway to a promotion. The two job sharers in Germany, Christina and Angela, got promoted together from Director to VP. A great achievement.
“In different stages of your life you may want to work more, or less”, said Hanneke Faber. That can apply to women or men who started a family, older employees who want to work less or software coders who run their own part-time company. In all these cases, job sharing can be a great solution to retaining talents and get the best out of people.