Women looking to return to work after kids are often faced with the prospect of being demoted purely because they can’t commit to a full-time role whilst they juggle being a new mother.

The parent penalty is a challenging reality of work today, with many highly talented employees deciding to walk away from senior corporate roles after having children because they simply can’t reconcile a way to make parenting and career work in tandem. Parents feel extreme frustration, as do employers given that replacing staff is time consuming and can cost around 75% of a year’s salary.

In today’s competitive landscape, Job sharing expert Endi Frydman believes companies should nurture and offer more flexible solutions for talented candidates despite their inability to commit to full-time work.

With many years of experience as an Executive Recruitment Consultant under her belt, Endi launched OneJob TwoMinds, a job share recruitment and coaching agency that specialises in helping candidates maintain career progression and work life balance.

Through job sharing, a business can gain access to the minds of two skilled and talented individuals and their unique experiences, networks, knowledge and perspectives, in one role. That is double the amount of reflection time and potential ‘aha’ moments that we all experience when we are away from the office.

Also, job sharers tend to be very independent, as problem solving occurs between the two of them. With job sharing, the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.

How did you come into job sharing?

I had a background in executive recruitment, which I loved it but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. I wanted to do something a little bit different. Then I got really ill with a nasty Bali virus and had to stop working altogether. This gave me time to stop and reflect and I realised I wanted to start something new. But there was just such limited part time work, particularly corporate. I realised Job sharing is one workforce strategy for organisations that is underutilised.

How does job sharing work?

We make job sharing simple. We present two individuals as one candidate to fulfil a full-time role, providing organisations with two minds for one job. It’s a retention and engagement tool. For example you find parents wanting to work flexibly and it’s such a short time usually that you need this flexibility. So organisations can retain and engage their top talent. It also enables women to get to senior leadership roles. The cost of recruitment to senior roles can be at least a year’s salary, so we not only help businesses retain great staff, but we also save them money.

How do you find a job share partner and make it work?

The first thing to do is look within your organisation. Is someone trying to work flexibly already? The organisation is going to want to retain you. If you do work for a small business, think back to people you have worked with before. Who is in your network? You may already have a good working relationship with them.

Before you start, really hammer out the terms of it. Talk about your preferences of availability. Negotiate the details. Who works when? What happens if kids are sick? Meetings… do we both go? Know your own strengths and know your job-partner’s strengths. Have a look at that in relation to the role you are wanting to do. Then you can support each other in your weaknesses. Through this process, you also identify your gaps. That awareness allows you to create strategies to fix those gaps and make you stronger in your role. Often where there is a gap with both, having each other for support makes it ok anyway. It makes tricky situations less daunting when you have someone who has your back. What do you bring as a team? Work on your strengths and not your weaknesses. You are so much more motivated working to your strengths.

What are your top tips for making a job-sharing position work?

1. Find the right partner. Someone who has aligned values. Short term motivation. These roles don’t need to be long term, but have a 12 month vision at least.

2. It’s really important to choose someone who is collaborative, who will share success and equally take the blame. “It’s our problem”

3. Like a marriage you always have your job-share partner’s back. If you don’t agree with a decision, that kind of discussion happens behind closed doors.

4. Regularly check in with each other. Giving each other opportunities to see how it’s working and providing feedback. Keep your relationship transparent.

5. Communication is everything in a job share partnership. Setting up the right systems for handovers, being accessible to each other. You do need to over communicate, especially at the start. How you are going to share information? Set up boundaries so you know when and when not to contact each other. All this is absolutely achievable.

6. Setting up the right systems and processes eg. if you are managing teams then you need a process to evaluate. KPI’s must be the same as effectively you are doing the one job.

7. Set it up so it is working for both you and the organisation. They get coverage 52 weeks a year so it’s about that communication. Plan your annual leave to work around each other.

Endi Frydman, founder of OneJob TwoMinds. lives in Melbourne with her three kids, 14 and 12yo boys and an 11yo girl.