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A job for two: shared work, double success

Although they are not in the situation themselves, the two of them gain good tandem experiences: Dr. Nils Hoffmann and Jörg Grünwald. As supervisors in Research & Development and Marketing, they employ job tandems in their teams – two partners who share a position of responsibility. A great enrichment for all involved, both say in unison.

Are responsible positions also divisible? Many companies ask this question when employees ask about job sharing options. Jörg Grünwald, has a clear answer: Yes, they are. At least if the conditions are right. “People really have to want it, be team players and of course find the right counterpart. You practically are in a marriage on the job – in good times and bad,” the Vice President Marketing Germany describes. When Jörg Grünwald took up his current position in 2017, there was already a job tandem in his area. His “angels”, as he calls Kerstin Unger and Katrin Bense with sincere appreciation, manage ten employees and are responsible for a very considerable sales volume as Marketing Managers Face Care.

Job sharing creates profiles that an individual cannot have, says marketing expert Jörg Grünwald.

Two minds, double creativity

Jörg Grünwald had doubts at first, he remembers: “Who does what, I asked the two of them back then. We both do everything, was the answer. Silently I wondered how much frictional loss there might be with this model.” He was disabused: “They not only do a great job, they’re very efficient. Two minds, twice the creativity – that’s the real advantage.” In addition, in job tandems, different characters often complement each other. “This results in profiles that a single person cannot have,” emphasizes Jörg Grünwald.

This is also how Dr. Nils Hoffmann sees it: “In job sharing, two people work on a problem solution and think along with each other. This is an enrichment, good for the team and for performance.” The chemist heads product development at Beiersdorf for NIVEA Body, Cream, Hand, and Florena. He has a job tandem with Julia Eckert and Katharina Ropeter, who share responsibility for a laboratory. Together they lead a five-member team in the pre-development of NIVEA body products: “Of course, the two are different personalities and each has an interesting profile. While Katharina brings experience from our test center, has a lot of know-how about raw materials and supplier management, and enjoys working on new ways of working, Julia has extensive knowledge from research and product development and an IT project. These complement each other perfectly.”

Chemist Dr. Nils Hoffmann sees job tandems as advantages for the team and for performance.

Well prepared for success

Unlike Jörg Grünwald, Dr. Nils Hoffmann had no reservations right from the start: “I knew both of them well and I knew it would fit. For me as a supervisor, it is also an advantage that both of them work 60 percent, which pays off in full.” When the laboratory management position in his area became vacant, the opportunity to fill the position as a tandem came at exactly the right time for both women. Back then Julia Eckert was working on an IT project and wanted to return to product development, Katharina Ropeter planned her return after parental leave. “The two of them prepared themselves super well, talked to other tandems in advance, looked for possible pitfalls and developed solutions.” Among other things, this involved the division of tasks, questions of personnel management and ways of regularly exchanging ideas: “A tandem not only has to get along well, but also has to be able to put its own ego aside. Because of course it is easier to decide things on your own,” Hoffmann knows and adds: “Like all tandems, Julia and Katharina have a common e-mail address. There they sign as Juka.”

The good experiences make Dr. Nils Hoffmann an ambassador for job tandems. “You have to look at each position carefully and consider what works. Personally, I can imagine many things,” says the chemist. With this he speaks from the heart of Jörg Grünwald. Grünwald’s initial doubts have now turned into the opposite. This also has a personal background, says the father of two grown children. “At 59 today, I belong to a generation with a classic role model,” he reflects. “When my wife and I started our family back then, we were self-employed as partners in an advertising agency. Still, it was difficult to reconcile job and family. In the end, my wife sacrificed her successful career. It was not easy for her. Fortunately, we’ve moved on and the world is a better place – I tell everyone that.” Not least because of this, Jörg Grünwald now has two job tandems in his team. The youngest will start in autumn 2020 in the Hair Care division.

Economically reasonable

Grünwald also promotes job-sharing models because they help to keep important know-how within the company: “From an economic point of view, it never makes sense for a company to lose well-trained and experienced employees. Whether woman or man – it should be our goal not only to recruit highly talented people, but to employ them on a long-term basis. Low fluctuation pays off.” Although the emancipation of men works more slowly than that of women, flexible working time models are becoming more interesting for them, according to Jörg Grünwald’s impression: “From my point of view, the issue of work-life balance is gaining importance for society as a whole. In the competition for the talents of this world, offers such as job sharing will increasingly develop to their advantage. We are doing very well in this area at Beiersdorf and should continue to drive this forward.”

Jörg Grünwald and Dr. Nils Hoffmann agree that there is no guarantee that the professional marriage will work as a job tandem. But what do you have to lose? “Nothing at all” is their answer. He who does not dare, does not win. And should the professional “love” not last – just keep looking!

Job sharing at Beiersdorf

Beiersdorf AG has been actively promoting job sharing since 2010 – for example, when filling vacancies that are advertised with this option. Job sharing is a flexible working time model in which employees share a role as a tandem, with individual division of working hours and tasks. Even complex jobs, challenging positions and management tasks that would be unthinkable in part-time employment can be managed in job sharing – so nothing should stand in the way of a career. It is important that the tandem partners are aware of the development opportunities of their joint position and that there is agreement on the path to be taken. Beiersdorf offers targeted support in this regard. Job seekers from outside who are still looking for a suitable counterpart can turn to external exchanges such as Tandemploy, a long-standing Beiersdorf partner in this area.

More information about job sharing at Beiersdorf can be found here.

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Diana Lühmann

About the editor: Diana Lühmann

Since autumn 2019, Diana has been responsible for corporate communication related to HR and inspiring people at Beiersdorf. These include the areas of Diversity, Learning & Development, Career, Leadership, and Health. Previously, she was in charge of R&D Communications and explored the exciting world of our research and development.