Job share was born in the late 1970s, yet today, more than three decades later, it is still associated with women with caring responsibilities. But our workforce is changing rapidly and flexibility is needed not only for women, but also for men. This was shown clearly in a survey conducted by Gemini3 with Research Now; the results revealed that 76% of men were interested in job share – almost equal with women (77%).

Why men want job share?

Men are looking to job share for different reasons than women.

Lifestyle choice is reason No. 1- to allow more time to spend with family, give to the community or practice a hobby.

Transition to retirement comes in second place for both men and women. Both are interested in job share to ease into retirement, but based on Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, women will need it sooner than men. Until recently, the average retirement age was 50 for women vs 58.9 for men, but interestingly, this gap has been narrowing. In the past five years the average retirement age was 59.6 for women vs 63.3 for men.

Entrepreneurial pursuit is the No. 3 reason to job share for men, and the younger the man, the more important this is. Companies should not underestimate the number of employees, especially men, who are looking at pursuing their own businesses. At 11% of male respondents, this represents over half a million men in Australia.

Caring for children comes in at No. 4, with 9% of men choosing it as their primary reason to job share. This is a high number considering only 0.6% of Australian men are currently stay-at-home dads1. Today more fathers need and demand flexibility from their employers. Based on the 2011 Workplace Gender Equality Agency survey, the number of fathers working flexibly increased from 16% in 2006 to 29% in 2011.

What should companies do?

  • Create awareness of job share for both sexes 

The Gemini3 survey revealed that 63% of men had never heard about the concept job share, vs 37% of women. Companies have a role to play in creating awareness and having open discussions with men as well as women. Gender equality is high on the agenda for many companies, but to create true equality, men need access to the same flexibility as women. At present, 17.4% of requests by men for flexibility are rejected vs only 9.8% of requests by women1.

 

  • Create male role models 

The best way to facilitate job share for men within a company is to create role models. Having successful men job sharing will showcase the benefits both for individuals and for the company. Role models will open more opportunities and create mentors for new partnerships.

 

  • Equip HR to offer job share

HR practitioners should have the ability to propose and create job share opportunities for both men and women. For example, HR should be aware of men going on paternity leave who could benefit from a job share role. Job share should become part of the flexibility arrangements for all employees and should be proactively offered by the company. This will generate a large pool of candidates to create new job share pairs, whether they are two men, two women, or a man and a woman. Like any arrangement, job share needs proper assessment of candidates, contracts and evaluation.

 

Working flexibility is the way of the future. Job share benefits both employees and employers, so companies should embrace job this new way of working and offer it to both men and women. For access to Gemini3’s complete white paper, “Job share: an untapped opportunity”, please contact us match@gemini3.com.au.

1Australian Bureau of Statistic

2 Workplace gender equality agency 2011