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The Disadvantages of Job Sharing for the Employer

by Stan Mack

Job sharing is a work arrangement allowing two employees to split the duties of one full-time position, making it an effective way for a business to accommodate unconventional employee schedules. For example, a working mother might need to spend more time at home than her full-time job allows. Creating a job-sharing opportunity might give her the flexibility she needs to continue with the company. If the company views her as too valuable to lose, it’s an attractive employee-retention strategy. But job sharing does have some disadvantages for the employer.

Bad Partners

Partners in a job-sharing situation are dependent upon each other, which can under some circumstances create a disadvantage. For example, suppose two workers are responsible for completing a project by a certain deadline. If one worker fails in some way and the project is affected, whom should the employer hold responsible? It’s not always obvious without some digging. Even if the blame clearly lies with just one of the workers, the situation is a hassle for the employer, who must sit down with both employees to sort out what happened. One way to minimize such problems is to ensure that responsibilities are clearly divided and spelled out, and to hold regular meetings to monitor progress.

Partner Changes

If one partner decides to leave the job-sharing situation, the whole arrangement can fall apart. The employer might have difficulty finding another person willing to participate in a job-sharing arrangement – or just the right person to fit both the unconventional schedule and the duties. At the very least, the transition period will be rocky and disruptive, as the new job-sharing partners sort out responsibilities and reconcile their schedules.

Recruitment Troubles

Employees in a job-sharing situation might not be eligible for the same benefits a full-time worker would receive, depending on the company’s policies. On one hand, that could be seen as an advantage, because the employer saves on benefit costs. For many employees, though, losing out on health insurance and other job benefits is a deal breaker. That makes it even harder for the employer to find suitable candidates for a job-sharing position.

Higher Administrative Costs

Job-sharing arrangements often result in higher administrative costs, according to “The Ultimate Small Business Guide,” by the editors of Perseus Publishing. For instance, a manager might have to spend extra time training, communicating with and coordinating the efforts of two employees, compared to dealing with a single full-time worker, and there are extra administrative arrangements to be made in human resources.

Division of Labor

Some tasks might be difficult for the employer to divide among two people. For example, an important client might prefer to deal with a single representative rather than two employees, which could negatively impact customer satisfaction. Constant communication among the job-sharing partners can help mitigate problems, but some issues might be insurmountable.

About the Author

Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.

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