Introduction of job sharing at bakery Van Maanen

2011 – Van Maanen is a medium sized bakery company with 55 own stores. The company operates in a highly competitive environment in the Netherlands. In particular, the competition from the big supermarkets is great. Within this competitive environment, it always is important for bakery companies to explore new opportunities to strengthen their market position. The ESF funding in 2008 provided the opportunity to carry out this project on job sharing.

Why this is workplace innovation
The project is exploring new ways of working, new organizational models  and the improvement of the use of the qualities of the employees within the organization.

Aims
The aim of the project is to explore the use of job sharing for branch leaders in the bakeries. The division of this job in two full-time jobs performed by two persons with complementing competences should lead to an increase in labor productivity and to an improvement of business performance in order to strengthen the market position.

Approach

During four months the job sharing was piloted in three branches of Master Bakery Van Maanen. A search was done to see whether the additional labor costs of two full-timers outweigh any benefits that this approach brings with it. During the execution of the project therefore, different activities were carried out to make a proper cost-benefit analysis. The hard data were mapped through a zero and a final measurement of various indicators (including the revenue and profit figures). In addition, an attempt was made to get insight into the more ‘soft’  factors, through a survey among store managers and store personnel. The branch leaders at the pilot locations also held a log, in which they wrote their experiences with the concept of job sharing.

R
esults
Especially on the work experience – the sharing of responsibilities, inspiring each other and in particular the feeling  that the branch is in good hands – the concept has a positive effect. Also, the experienced work load can be reduced through the introduction of job sharing.  Affiliate leaders can combine work and private better, thus limiting the risk of an early departure or failure of branch managers. As for the (business)economic performance a full conclusion was impossible due to circumstances; but at least one branch showed positive results. And for Van Maanen, these first positive results are reason to continue experimenting with the concept of job sharing, and – where possible – to practice it in a number of other affiliates.

Tips
A key lesson has been that the two store managers actually should start simultaneously. When one of the store managers worked in the shop already for a long time, the staff mainly listened to this person and did not follow the instructions of the new branch manager so easily. Moreover, it is important that the characters of the two persons are complement to each other, but also that they do not completely collide.

Reference

This project has been realized through a grant from ESF action E. ESF action E provides funds to employers who organize work processes and working conditions in a smarter way to become more effective. More information is available on the website of the Agency Social Affairs. More information about Van Maanen is available at https://vanmaanen.meesterbakker.nl/
Attached is the full case description (in Dutch) made by Bureau Bartels, who evaluated the ESF Funding in the Netherlands in the period 2008 – 2010.