Opinion

Why aren’t more media companies offering job sharing to get experience back in the door?

Lucy Formosa MorganWith the media industry churn and talent drain a constant issue Lucy Formosa Morgan asks why more companies aren’t open to job sharing.

There’s rarely a shortage of applicants for coordinator positions however when it comes to recruiting experienced middle / senior level people, the talent bank seems to dry up. Agencies can struggle to fill vacancies for months or end up having to recruit from overseas. So if we have plenty of juniors that we’re devoting time and money to training up, where are they going? Why is there such a shortage of good talent out there?

Well, given 56 per cent of agency staff are female (source: MFA Dec 13), a large proportion will naturally go off and have families. Some come back for sure, be it in a full-time or part-time capacity but there are a number that don’t. Large workloads and high stress levels are endemic to this industry, so it’s not surprising that some feel this isn’t a part-time or mum-friendly industry.

In 2013, 10 per cent of agency employees left the industry permanently (source: MFA), granted for a variety of reasons but still, if we could attract some of those people back, we’d be bolstering the talent and experience within the industry. With the majority of agency staff having less than 5 years’ experience, surely that’d be welcome.

Having chatted to a number of friends and colleagues across the industry, this certainly isn’t limited to the agency side of the industry. Bel Cook and Fran Romano at Mamamia are case in point. They’ve in their own words ‘become one person’ – instead of splitting their patch of clients / agencies, they’re working across it together and are absolutely nailing.

Part-time Generally Means Full-time

It’s not uncommon that if you work 4 days a week, you end up working five, yet only getting paid for four. And with that comes the stress of a full time job. Too much stress for many, particularly when juggling all the extras that come with raising a family.

If you thought you were efficient before kids, being a working mum takes efficiency to a whole new level in order to get through the workload and get home in time for the kids. As a working mum, it’s bloody hectic!

With mums having the skillsets we’re looking for and being so efficient with their time, wouldn’t they be a great option to encourage back into the workforce?

How Can We Get More Mums Back into Media?

Why are we just accepting and letting good people go? Isn’t there something more that we can do? If companies are willing to accept the slight increase of paying two talented people working three days a week each across one role, we could bring back some of the talented people that we’ve collectively worked so hard to cultivate over the years, yet let walk away once they had kids. It gives women the opportunity to return to work without the fear that the workload or stress will break them.

For those women struggling under the stress of full-time work or four days a week, maybe job sharing could be a better alternative for them too.

Sure, not every media mum will nail job sharing but if you can find the right pairing, with the right skillsets, then you’re getting double the brains, experience and passion for that one role.

Communication and being a team player are critical – as Bel Cook put it so succinctly: “You can’t have an ego or play the blame game if you want to job share successfully”. If the pair don’t communicate seamlessly, balls get dropped when the reins are handed over at the end of each three day block. However it can be done brilliantly, a la Bel and Fran.

There’s definitely interest out there on both the sales and agency side but are businesses willing to bite the bullet and make it happen?

Lucy Formosa Morgan is head of trading at media agency PHD

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