By Anna Ludeman

37% of the charity sector work part-time, so if charities are not offering part-time working options such as job shares, they could be missing out on a third of the talent! But can job shares really work?

We interviewed Amy Morgan and John Hibbert, a job-share pair heading up the Partnership Management team at Shelter.

Here is what they had to say;

What words spring to mind when you think of describing your job-share?

For us, a job-share is very much about collaboration, working together to deliver the best outcomes for our team and for Shelter by utilising our different skill sets and approaches.

How does a job-share role compare to your role previously?

John: When Amy returned from maternity leave, I felt really valued by Shelter to be given the opportunity to work on other projects across Income Generation, with other two days that were now free. I have had the opportunity to work on some really interesting projects, trialling a new collaboration framework across the team and launching Shelter’s first-ever emergency appeal. My previous experience working in emergency appeals for an international NGO was put to good use, and I had already started to work with colleagues on our emergency response when COVID hit, so we could adapt and raise funds quickly. I think it’s also helped me to build relationships across Shelter, which we can then leverage to raise the profile of the Partnership Management team and do more with businesses.

Amy: I previously worked four days a week and it was great to have the flexibility, but I often felt like I was trying to do a full-time job in four days. The job share has helped me to rebalance and not feel guilty on my days off that I should be answering e-mails or that other people might have to pick up my work. The set up works much better for our team as well as they have a head of team available five days a week.

How did you start job-sharing and how did your organisation react?

John was covering my maternity leave as Head of Partnership Management and we were lucky to have a supportive manager that wanted to retain both of us, so created the job share position. We both work three days in the role, but John works full time and manages internal projects and strategic priorities on his other two days.

The organisation has reacted positively to the job share and people have welcomed the change from an EDI perspective.

What has this brought to your work and personal life?

Amy:  I have a much better work life balance and I find that I’m more productive on the days that I do work. I’m also extremely grateful to work for an employer that has seen the value in retaining staff and champions flexible working.

John: I would say that job-sharing has helped me to be much more organised and ruthless with my time, constantly re-prioritising and focusing to ensure I can deliver the cross-team and partnership activities. We’ve implemented a number of internal comms processes across the team, and Amy and I are in constant communication, to ensure that the team get a good experience of leadership and things run smoothly. It’s also given me a much better understanding of work-life balance and made me more appreciative of others’ needs in terms of being a flexible line manager.

What have been the main challenges that you have both faced?

We started the job share in January 2020 and were both adapting to a new way of working when the pandemic hit so the hardest part was establishing our new roles during this period.

John: because my roles are so different, working on multiple projects when not in Partnership Management, I can sometimes struggle with scheduling e.g. if there is an external meeting on my non-team work day. All of my projects to-date have been internally-facing, so I can normally move appointments around to flex as needed, but it needs a bit more thought than it used to!

How to manage line management responsibilities and how does your manager find time to manage both of you?

Amy: We split the role so that we line manage different people within the team and act as senior stakeholders for the partnerships within our own workstreams. On the days that we’re not in the role, the other head will provide support. We have separate 1-1’s with our manager but John and I have regular dialogue to make sure we’re across each other’s work and our manager doesn’t need to duplicate conversations or feedback.

John: I think it’s a really good learning opportunity for the team, as one of the keys to developing your career is managing senior stakeholders and ‘managing up’. Given that Amy and I have different styles and strengths, I think it’s helped line reports to flex this skill.

What would you say to others considering a job-share?

Amy: A job-share can provide so many benefits to both you and the organisation so don’t be afraid to scope this out with your current/ potential employer.

John: Be really honest with your line manager about what you want to achieve, because they might be aware of opportunities that could help you to develop that you might not have considered. A job-share was honestly not something I’d ever considered before, but now when making resourcing decisions it’s definitely something that can be leveraged really well to attract diverse candidates and retain staff members.

What are your top tips to make a job-share successful?

Amy: Like any successful relationship, communication is key! However, you choose to split a job share, make sure that you update each other regularly so that you both feel confident about what the other person is working on. Feedback is also valuable, especially if the job share is a new concept internally. We asked for feedback from everyone that we work closely with after six months into the job share and this helped us shape the role.

John: Make sure you act as a unit – it can be an adjustment for colleagues working with two people rather than one, but being across each others’ work and divvying up elements of the role in an equitable way will help build colleagues’ confidence. You also need a line manager and leadership team who are totally committed to it.

We recently held a conversation on job sharing to find out more about whether they really work and the barriers to job sharing in the charity sector.  The verdict was unanimous: job shares work.  From CEO to every level of the organisation, we heard examples of job sharers meeting challenges and even making life easier for their line managers as they end up supporing each other in the way a line manager might with a sole post-holder.

Thank you Amy and John for sharing your job share story.