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Definition: An employment option that lets two people share the responsibilities of one full-time position

One of the reasons you probably started a business was to enjoy the benefits of balancing your family and business lives. And chances are, once you've achieved that, you'll want your employees to enjoy the same benefit. On the plus side, the less formal environment of a small company is the ideal setting for a flexible employee policy. On the other hand, small businesses are more likely than large companies to depend on a core of "indispensable" employees. So how do you balance your company's needs with those of your employees? One flexible schedule option that helps you do both is job-sharing.

Job-sharing is basically a form of part-time work that provides you with the equivalent of one full-time employee while giving the job-sharing employees the ability to keep their careers on track while allowing more time for family responsibilities or other activities.

The key to making the strategy work is a willingness to understand the needs of your staff. And the employees participating need to be organized. Work patterns need to be plotted, and communication--between the employees sharing the job and other staff members--needs to be better than average.

In establishing your company's personnel policies, whether they're set out in a formal employee manual or created on a case-by-case basis, it's important not to be arbitrary in accommodating your employees. Doing so will lead to poor morale over perceived unfairness; worse, it could open your company to lawsuits.

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