The job-sharing apps that feel like online dating

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Irenka KroneImage source, WeJobShare
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Irenka Krone runs WeJobShare, a website that allows users to find people to job share with

After entering a bit about myself and what I'm looking for into a matchmaking website, the details of two potential partners are immediately shared with me.

First there is Alejandro, dressed in a sharp suit, and sporting a big smile. He has an impressive master's degree, and an interest in jogging.

The other is Susan, who is less academically qualified, but her profile is more relatable. And perhaps more importantly, she says she is quite tolerant of any mistakes that someone else might make.

On paper, at least, I feel that Susan is better for me. I'm keen to see if we have any chemistry, if I can see ourselves together.

You might think that I'm trying out a new dating platform, but instead I'm experimenting with a website that links people who want to job share.

The idea behind Switzerland-based WeJobShare is that instead of having to find a friend or colleague to share a job with, you can instead match up with a complete stranger, and therefore considerably increase the pool of potential candidates.

US start-up Job Share Connect works in a similar way, inviting those who can't find a job sharing partner to make use of its "robust talent pool".

Meanwhile, the UK and mainland Europe division of carmaker Ford now has its own in-house "matchmaking tool" for employees who want to job share with a colleague.

Ford introduced its platform in September 2022. Interested employees enter details including their current expertise, what they are looking for in a partner, what they would like to do next position wise, and overall career goals.

An algorithm then assesses this information to formulate matches which are presented to the user with a percentage match score.

The scheme helped Emma Wright find her job share partner in the lead up to her return to Ford this year after her second period of maternity leave.

Ms Wright, who works in the company's UK finance department, had gone part-time after her first maternity leave. However, she found that the role, because it was a part-time position, was not as challenging or as fast-paced as she would have liked.

So this time around she sought out a job share, hoping for a more interesting role.

"I've seen job sharers working in finance who are really successful and well regarded, and I wanted to be a part of that," she says.

Image source, Emma Wright
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Emma Wright is now job sharing at carmarker Ford after returning to work from maternity leave

At WeJobShare, co-founder Irenka Krone says the aim is to help connect women in particular. This is because they are more likely to be working part-time than men, due to factors such as childcare.

Its users start by creating a profile, entering details such as where they are based, the type of role they are looking for, how many hours they ideally want to work per week, and whether they are looking for someone with similar or complementary skillsets.

Then there is a short survey, which asks questions including "how do you react to stress?", "how innovative are you?", "how risk averse are you?", and "how tolerant would you be to a partner's mistakes?".

Based on that data, the company's software then generates potential matches. Its website is currently only available in Switzerland, and so far it has helped 2,500 people find a job share partner.

"Companies are starting to realise that if you want to keep the best women in your business, you need to have new employment models," says Ms Krone, who runs the business with her own job sharing partner, Razvan Oprea.

"They are trying to keep women, who might be at a certain stage of their life and want to leave the sector, so they're investing money in keeping them, by suggesting they think about job sharing."

The small but growing trend of job sharing apps comes as gender equality campaigning organisation Empower said this year that job sharing is a "critical solution to many of the issues women most commonly face in the job market", such as childcare responsibilities hindering career progression.

This is because a job share involves doing half of a full-time role, rather than a part-time position that is likely to come with less responsibility, pay and chance of promotion.

Sharon Peake, founder and boss of London-based corporate gender equality consultancy Shape Talent, says she feels optimistic about the potential of any tools that will make job sharing more popular.

Image source, Sharon Peake
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Sharon Peake wonders if the software that runs job sharing platforms might discriminate against women

However, she's also concerned that biases can find their way into job sharing software systems. "There is a risk of strong [female] candidates being screened out... because algorithms will favour historic candidates for stem [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] roles, and these are more likely to be men."

Ms Peake is also not convinced that the tech can match essential soft skills like teamwork and communication, nor two people's chemistry.

Jess Baker, a UK business psychologist and author, says that anyone considering a job share with someone they do not previously know should really find out if they have compatible personalities. "I'd strongly recommend you each complete a personality profiling tool, to increase your level of self-awareness of psychological characteristics, like how you each cope under pressure, how you make decisions, and how you relate to others."

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But could an employer simply turn down job sharing candidates to avoid having double the HR and payroll work? UK employment solicitors Davidson Morris say that job sharing requests from existing employees "must be considered in a reasonable manner and should only be refused if there is a good business reason for so doing"., external

Fellow business psychologist Stuart Duff says that in most cases firms can benefit from having employees in job sharing roles. "On the surface, job sharing can appear to create all sorts of challenges, yet in reality the advantages will often easily outweigh any added bureaucracy.

"Many bosses can hold rigid views of the best person to be in a particular role, based on little more than stereotypes or 'gut feel', so having two different people with different experiences and styles of working can challenge fixed expectations, and broaden perceptions of what is possible."

Additional reporting by Will Smale.

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