Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Can Job Sharing Work for Nurse Managers?

Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Can Job Sharing Work for Nurse Managers?

Article excerpt


Addressing employer reluctance to employ nurse managers in a job-sharing capacity, the aim of this paper is to explore job sharing among nurse managers. The literature highlighted potential fragmentation of leadership, breakdown of communication and higher costs as issues, with the retention of experienced highly motivated managers identified as an advantage. A staff survey explored whether the job-sharing arrangement trialled in a day surgery setting by two nurse managers was successful compared with similar roles held by full-time managers. This paper suggests that nurse managers can successfully job share. Overall, this paper recommends that employers consider a job-sharing arrangement when they wish to retain experienced nurse managers, and highlights aspects that can enhance a successful outcome.

Aust Health Rev 2006: 30(1): 17-24

IN AUSTRALIA, IN LIGHT OF the poor nursing retention rates, medical facilities have offered nurses part-time employment options in bedside clinical roles. Nurses, in a female dominated profession, may choose to work in part-time employment for a variety of professional and private reasons. Personal demands on nurses may include commitment to care for children, disabled or elderly relatives, or other family needs. Nurses may wish to participate in further education or simply enhance their leisure time to pursue hobbies and other interests.1,2 Without options for part-time employment nurses may withdraw from the workplace at varying points in their careers. Part-time clinical hours, occasional short-term contracts for projects and roles in data collection are usually the options for flexible employment opportunities for nurses. Although job sharing is widely accepted at registered nurse level, little literature is available examining participation and evaluation of nurse managers involved in a parttime capacity, sharing responsibilities.

Nurse manager positions are usually expected to be a full-time employment arrangement.3,4 Nurse managers are usually offered part-time employment in another role, often accepting a lower grade and lower position. The scenarios include temporary or permanent resignation from management with relocation to an alternative position if available; commitment to return to full-time work, usually within 12 months; or employment in a different organisation or profession. Nurses who have reached the point in their career where they are suitable candidates for nurse manager roles, are experienced and knowledgeable employees with advanced clinical, management, leadership and human resource skills. When they require parttime employment, they traditionally may not apply for available positions.5,6

Job-sharing arrangements may provide an opportunity for employers to select and maintain these highly skilled and valued nurse managers.1 Part-time work can fulfil the need for a manager to maintain a position in the workforce, to assure financial obligations, preserve and or develop clinical skills, achieve personal fulfilment in a challenging role, realise an ambition or pursue a professional career.3,7 In addition, organisations offering job sharing may adhere to being "family friendly" or an "employer of choice".3,7

Exploring staff opinions on job sharing


A questionnaire was designed by the surgical division of our hospital, and after a lengthy period of trial, has been in use since February 2002. The questionnaire ascertains staff perceptions of their nurse leaders and aims to enhance nurse leaders' capabilities in a clinical setting, addressing four areas of the nurse manager role: communication, leadership, mentoring and teamwork. Box 1 highlights the content of the questionnaire in each area.

The questions are scored from zero to five (Box 2) from the work place perspective, and staff completing the questionnaire are asked to identify whether or not they are a nurse.

Over the years, the questionnaire has not been entirely validated, but has been evaluated for content, readability and use to ascertain whether it was helpful in nurse manager development. …

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