S5 E33 | Recruiting Community : Dave Smallwood talks about Job Sharing

Hoyt connects with Dave Smallwood about how organizations are leveraging role sharing for their employees

S5 E33 | Recruiting Community : Dave Smallwood talks about Job Sharing

Hoyt connects with Dave Smallwood about how organizations are leveraging role sharing for their employees

Chris Hoyt, CXR 
So Dave you are you are your reader or you read a lot of books like non

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 0:05

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:05
Non on the screen books like real, real real books.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 0:08
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve got it here. It’s a book called exponential by Azim is it’s about,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:16
I haven’t heard of that.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 0:18
Yet, the future in of the world is obviously going to be driven by technology and how technologies is exponentially accelerating? And what that means and how to handle that.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:29
Oh, interesting. Yeah. Is it because it just does seem faster and faster? And I know, I’ve seen that curve. What’s the name of the man now? Now? There’s this curve of what is it? It’s not Murphy’s

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 0:45
Law, it’s kind of remembered the name of the law. But yes, that the speed of adoption is accelerating. Pretty much every, every time anything happens, it gets adopted a heck of a lot faster. And it’s just really interesting to see as Azem’s view on how technology’s basically leaving the world behind, and you have to work really hard to keep up with it to keep up with it.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:08
Can I just get really, really fat and sit in a robot chair like on that? Like on WallE that’d be the future of my technology.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 1:17
Could be

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:19
I’m not bragging about it. I’m just saying that maybe that’s what’s next for me in a month. That’s where we’re at. As a civilization. Nice I picked up I actually just picked up two books and one I’ve been meaning to read for awhile but Tribe. So I’m kind of excited to get into this one by Sebastian Younger, but it’s pretty good on homecoming and belonging. And I’m, we’re, we’re doing a little pre record on this, obviously, because Gerry and I are doing our third Burning Man. And so every you know, every year that we can go, we try to go and it’s those tenants of community and we’re always looking for a good read on community and belonging, so it should be fun.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 1:56
That’s awesome.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:57
Yeah, yeah, it won’t be as exciting as this podcast interview though. Are you ready?

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 2:02
Oh, no.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:05
Well, here we go.

Announcer 2:07
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Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:37
Okay, welcome to today’s edition of the CXR recruiting community podcast we bring to you each week, a mostly live broadcasts have quick and easy to digest discussions with industry pros, personalities, and our friends for your infotainment, I’d like to encourage you to please click on the Subscribe and Like buttons and to reach out to us directly with feedback about the show. We don’t have sponsors or ads, or any guests that actually pay to be here. We don’t make any money from any inserts or media that you see or hear here on the show. This show is just kind of our team delivering quick conversations of interest around what our community members ask for not to be honest, I actually don’t think it makes any sense from a business and dollar standpoint for us to do this outside of the fact that it is just fun. And folks keep asking for more interviews. And we enjoy delivering on those requests from the community. So if you have someone that you would like to shine a spotlight on or to have us ask a few questions with or even jump in live, just connect with us at CXR. That works and let us know. So with that, I want to go ahead and introduce someone new to the show and with whom I actually only met about a month or so ago, Dave Smallwood, he is the founder or excuse me, co founder of Role Share. So Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 3:51
Hey, Chris,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:53
Glad you can make it. So, Dave, for those who may not know who you are, or anything about Role Share, can you kind of give us an escalator pitch of who you are and why we should listen to you today? Why we should care what you have to say.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 4:12
Sure, thanks. Thanks for the opportunity. So my background is about 20 years enterprise sales and technology initially working for American Express and then PayPal spent 13 years there and when I left PayPal was looking after partnerships marketplaces and systems integrator relationships, which is basically the ecosystem of people integrating Pay Pal into customers websites or merchants websites and while there and doing an MBA, and about to become a parent for the first time. My co founder co CEO Role Share and I were having a chat about like, how do you do parenting and working in a big corporate job at the same time? Without the obvious outsourcing the parenting part like so totally getting a nanny and outsourcing that bit. And we had a deep conversation about the fact that I didn’t want Sophie to put her career on the side rails while being a parent and looking after our children. And inversely, she was the same to me. She’s like, I don’t want you to either do that, either. So how do we find something that works. And we’ve had a lot of conversations about what options are available to caregivers in the workplace, especially in mid to senior roles. And through all of it, we basically realize that pretty much every option in the market, where we work option model out there tries to compress the same amount of work into less time. So you know, it could be part time or compressed work week, etc. And, and, as a manager, I’ve, I’ve done that to people and worked with people giving them what they were looking for, which is more flexibility at the cost to me as a manager. But then also, they will always come back six weeks, and you know, two or three months later going, oh, gosh, this part time thing isn’t what I thought it was going to be. Can I have my old job back? Or can we go full time again. And through this conversation with Sophie, we came across job sharing as a concept that she had heard about 15 years before. And, and the light bulbs went off for both of us. And we’re like, hold on, there’s something here like, why is this not more widely adopted? And so with the MBA that I was doing at London Business School, I took it into the class as a project. And we did some research on it. And basically, the rest is history. That’s how we’ve ended up here.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 6:33
Well let me ask you, Dave. So it is, it isn’t really fun. We had a fun discussion about this when we were introduced. But talk to me a little bit about the adoption that you’re seeing, or that’s been reported in the UK versus because because you’re out in London. Right. So for those, we’re a little timezone difference today, but I’m drinking coffee, you’ve probably got a beer hidden off screen, that’s fine. But what what do you think the adoption looks like in the UK versus the US? Is it the same is it exponentially different?

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 7:05
I think it’s broadly the same in at a company level, right? So companies offer it as an option. In the US, one stat that we can point to is the fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. In 2019, when we started looking at this, it was I think it was like 30% of companies offer job sharing in the US. And then last year, it was 50%. So it’s definitely going in an upward direction. But then when you look at it, actually, the number of people taking it up within the organizations are still really low. And that would be the same in both the US and the UK. And the main reason that our research points to is, it’s really hard to find someone to share your job with at exactly the moment you need to share your job. So where do you go? How do you find someone that?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:54
Because we don’t see you just don’t at least I don’t I’ll speak for myself, not the whole world, but you just don’t see a lot of shared job. advertisements. I don’t see a lot of promotion around work here with somebody else. Like I see a lot of part time gigs, and gigs, but I don’t I just don’t see any role sharing or job sharing ads anywhere.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 8:16
Absolutely. And we started looking at that. And one of the one of the stats that we were looking at in the UK was indeed right, so how many jobs sharable jobs are on indeed. And when we started looking at this, it was about three 400 a week. And it’s a couple 1000 At the moment now. And so it’s not it’s not full broad adoption yet, but it’s definitely heading in the right direction. And something that that points to the UK view versus the US view on this is the Association of British Insurers, and the woman in finance charter. So two different bodies have been formed in the UK specifically to enable more flexibility in work as a driver for gender diversity or improving gender, seniority. And in both of those commitments, that they’re getting their members to sign up to job sharing, as mentioned as one of the facets or tools that they can use to enable greater diversity. And what we’ve what we found was really interesting as as we went into this ourselves is, when we launched, we thought it was mainly going to be aimed at, you know, parents coming back after having kids and male and female. And actually, what we found is it’s 60/40 woman 40% Men, it’s a heck of a lot more than we thought it would be. Yeah. And when you dig into that, it’s driven by a to two things. One is aging workers thinking about the last five to 10 years of their careers going actually why Why should I work five days a week? Can I do three or four on one side and then on the other side, people entering the work are going, actually, I don’t want to do a five day corporate gig, I’d like to work three days in a corporate in two days doing my video blog or gaming platform thing. And we’re seeing a lot of different use cases, then caregivers. So we started building this thing for our use case. And we’ve unlocked to open the can have all sorts of different scenarios.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 10:23
So for me, there’s there’s two components that seem to stand out when I, as I learned a little bit more about job sharing. That’s that has a positive impact on diversity. And then the potential really positive impact on internal mobility. Now, is that also an area where you’re at? Because that sort of seems to go hand in hand with perhaps a job share? I mean, is that also something that you’re seeing?

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 10:46
Definitely. So as we started out, it was literally how do we find help people find one another first step, let’s create a platform to enable that second step of movement for us was how do we make it possible for companies to work with us. And as we started going into that, we realized it’s actually not just any companies, it’s really large companies that are probably at the right level of thinking to adopt programs like this. Because, you know, if you’re scaling really fast, you don’t have time to think about this sort of stuff. If you’re at that sort of steady state 1000 employees plus, and you’re not growing rapidly, rapidly. You think about how to retain more than how to acquire in more broad ways. And as we’ve had those conversations, it was yes, let’s let’s look at retention first. How do you keep someone in place if they’re thinking about leaving, and burnout is a really good example of a scenario that can be supported by this? enabling someone to have more flexibility and freedom reduces their burnout, and then drives that stickiness in the role? And, and then, to match that retention piece, you’ve got to attract someone in? So we’ve got this attraction piece. Okay, great. And then what does it have to be attraction? Could it just be someone else within the organization coming to share somebody else’s job, and all three of those scenarios work together. And because you’re doing those things with the companies we’re working with, the immediate next step is Hold on, doesn’t have to just be for flexibility. It could also be for internal mobility, moving people across and upskilling and cross skilling, as as the world needs to move in faster in these changing environments. Is there a way that we could get a better learning environment by putting people together rather than putting people through courses and programs? Could we just help each other train one another? Like, is there a way of doing that? And, you know, the research we’re looking at is that the best way to learn following a search on Google is from a peer. And this mobility learning pieces is something that we’re really exploring at the moment.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:51
Yeah. Well, I find that really fascinating. And you know, what comes to mind, as you’re talking through that is, and I’m wondering, have, have you, have you seen an impact of the pandemic, on on job sharing in any way? Is it either from an adoption rate, skyrocketing, or having maybe a negative impact in some way?

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 13:13
As it happened as March 2020. It was the worst time in the last 100 years tried to try and launch Role Share, because that’s exactly what we were doing. And because we were solution is going to help you retain and attract talent. And everyone was like, not right now. Thanks. And but as we’ve moved away from there, towards the end of 2020, a bunch of organizations came to us cold, you know, we didn’t do any marketing or promotion, because we’re still building the product. And they came straight in like, Hey, how can we use this to get people to come back to the office? Is there a way of doing that?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 13:47
See, now I hadn’t thought of that. I got a return to work strategy.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 13:51
Yeah. So there was a piece there. I was like, Yeah, you could, but actually, there’s this broader application than just that. And as people start looking at all the different options with this, the minds are opened and conversations happen. And the where we are now is companies are struggling like never before, in what everyone causes huge war, fatality, etc. And it’s, it’s basically what we what we’re looking at. And we’ve done quite a lot of research, we’ve got a few pretty smart people helping us. It’s driven by two or three things. The main main one is increasing prevalence of gig slash blank forms have enabled people to go Oh, actually, I don’t need to work full time, I can go and do something, three days, two days, one day, whatever. And making that easier and easier and easier for people to drains the talent pool that’s available because the best people leave because they can and they can go and get jobs elsewhere and on these types of gigs elsewhere and probably have a little bit more while doing so. And then you add to that the aging demographic challenges that develop markets have got which is 15 years from now, there’s going to be more people entering retirement than they are entering the workforce. There’s a problem, right? And companies need to fix that problem somehow.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 15:09
Yeah, well, it’s funny because you had shared. So there was a UK study, I guess that showed people participating in in role sharing or job sharing, were reportedly 30% more productive. And I’m kind of wondering what what that’s sort of based on like, why, why is sharing a job with somebody different than just two part time workers, sort of, you know, connecting to one another, right? And I think Sophie, your partner, and your partner, had done an interview in the MIT Sloan Management Review, and I’ve got a link, I’m gonna throw it up here. Well, yeah, there we go. I give a link, I throw it on the screen. It is a whopper, by the way, if you’re not watching it’s Sloan review.mit.edu/article/melding-flexibility-and-connectivity-in-dash. Workplace, we’ll put a link in the recap for everybody. But what would you attribute? Because I did flip through and it was really interesting, but what would you attribute that to the sharing of roles versus sort of the mash up of a couple part timers.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 16:18
So we’ve interviewed more than 200 people that are in Job shares, and then also the people that are managing them, or the people that are reporting to them. And one of the things that we’ve uncovered in that research is, when done correctly, or when done right, one of the things that shows up always is the motivations about how, when, why that why they’ve signed up to do job share in the first place. And generally, what we see is if there’s a real reason, I caregiving or a startup that somebody wants to do on the side, or there’s something really solid that they are very committed to making work, then they become super committed to making their role work. And they become accountable to the other party, rather than to the line management, as well. So when you do that joint accountability piece, and they hold each other accountable day to day, week to week, and there’s a handover mechanism in that week, there has to be a strong handover mechanism in the peer, that then creates a level of efficiency and performance that you wouldn’t normally see in an individual role. And really, when we boil it down to is better than one, that’s really what we think is happening here is one person in isolation has got their own views on the world and ways of working and, you know, positives and negatives are around everything that they’re doing. When you put two people together, you get more positives and less negatives, and they balance each other in the right direction. And that the research that we were looking at, points to that and shows to that, and the work that we’re doing with our first enterprise pilots is digging into that some more. So there’s a cost save on retention, great, there’s potentially a cost save on some attraction pieces as well. Really, is this going to drive a higher level of performance for the companies that get it right? And we believe yes,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 18:09
Yeah, the the cohort aspect of that, and the camaraderie component, like really, really fascinate me, and drove me to want to learn a little bit more about that, and the differentiation between, you know, some role sharing, and just, you know, stacking up part timers, and I just find that fascinating how they, how would we encourage leaders to, to learn more? Or how do we educate them on the benefits of sort of taking a risk, because in a lot of corporate, as a former ta leader, like I really, we went round and round a little bit upfront, because I really had a hard time sort of wrapping my head around it. How do we encourage those those ta practitioners to learn more and take risks with role sharing? I mean, obviously, other other than check out, check out your site, which I’d encourage anybody to do, right? But we’re it’s not a product pitches from an education. Where do they go? Where would you send them to learn more?

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 19:04
And so first, we’ve got a guide section or toolkit section on our website. And we’ve got a ton of really solid research, case studies, podcasts, interviews, etc, of those 200 or so interviews that we’ve done previously, ranging from leaders at Twitter all the way through MasterCard, and a bunch of other organizations all over the world and down to and across industries, right. So like detectives, job sharing, and that sort of stuff. So it really just shows that it can be done sort of anywhere. I would say, the way that it normally happens, and the way that people normally uncover this is they’re trying to look after or keep a high performer. That then proposes the option as to their line manager, the line manager then takes it through to talent acquisition and recruitment, etc. So how, how do we do this? How do we make this thing work? And what we’re seeing the best way to really test this out, if an organization is beginning to think of should we even Look at this, go and talk to your employee representation groups. Or if you’ve got them within your organization, the ones that look after parents are the ones that look after underrepresented groups and ask them if they would be interested in it. And if there’s a resounding yes, then let’s do a pilot. And you know, we’re open all day long for piloting and low cost, low risk, you know, toe in the water type work, because we’re really wanting everyone to experience what this looks like and feels like and we’re seeing on the majority that when they do that things go, right. Okay,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 20:33
Well, here’s what I’m going to do. So so I know, we didn’t talk about this before, we have a CXR.works/directory, we have a directory of about 600 or so vendors and talent solution providers in there, what I’m gonna do, because I don’t want to throw a big long MIT logo up on the screen again, if folks find you, we’re going to add you in that directory, and I’m going to take those resources and add them in there. And I think you also I think there’s a YouTube video, we’ll put a profile page up for Role Share, and we’ll drop those resources in there and link to them. That’ll make it super easy for anybody to find that, that work. And then we can drive it back if they want additional info or to talk to you directly Dave, or your or your partners and founding team should make it super easy for folks to do that to get educated.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 21:18
And we will add to that I’m just thinking on the fly here. We’ll add to that at some sort of discount for CXR members so that you can track that to see

Chris Hoyt, CXR 21:25
Oh, man, everybody’s winning today. Look, let me ask you, though, if you were gonna write a book, On the topic of role sharing, and kind of what we’ve talked about today, what would the title of that book be?

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 21:41
I think it would be having your cake and eating it.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 21:48
Really? Let me go ahead.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 21:55
The reason there is because both parties and their job share ie the companies and the professionals, job sharing, both get what they’re looking for individuals in the job share, get the flexibility, and the freedom when they’re not working because somebody else is working for them to go and do the thing that they want to do. There’s no extra pressure on them. And then the company gets what it needs, which is full time cover and high performance.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 22:19
I love it. Having your cake and eating it by Dave Smallwood. Yeah. Okay, so I’m gonna put you on the spot Dave, who gets the first autographed copy?

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 22:27
I’d have to go with Linda Gratton, she is a professor at London business school, she belived in the idea when I pitched it to her while I was studying. She became an advisor on this and she has written tons of books so it would feel really good giving her a book.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 22:27
Nice, you’re a good man Charlie Brown. So Dave I want to thank you for joining the show, so appreciative of all the time you’ve given us and educated me. I’m really hopeful some of our community members will reach out learn a little bit more and maybe just check out the platform and see if it’s a fit for their organization.

Dave Smallwood, Roleshare 22:27
Sounds good, thanks Chris.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 22:19
Alright good stuff. I’m going to throw you back in the green room really quickly don’t go anywhere though, hang out with us. I just want to remind everybody before we end the show, CXR.works/events you’ll see what’s coming up we also include the podcast interviews that are up ahead. CXR.works/lecture if you haven’t checked this out yet its for our members any community member at any level. These are our monthly series where we have brought in professionals lecturers from all over the world to talk about hot topics that our leaders as well as our members have sort of voted up that they want to hear more about and we are excited about that and it’s getting a lot of traction. And of course this one! CXR.works/podcast check us out be sure like I said earlier, link, suscribe, post, like talk to us a little bit. We’ve got more on the way but we are always anxious to hear what you want to hear more about and with that I’ll see you next week.

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