“We are leaders in job-sharing”

Job-sharing has proven a great success. In just three years, the number of job-sharing positions at SEM has risen fivefold.

“Job-sharing at SEM has proven to be a great success,” says our head of HR, Meret Stoppia-Staub. Since the Asylum Directorate was reorganised in 2019, many of the managerial positions are now shared by two people. SEM currently has a total of 15 such duos. Twenty women and ten men are successfully sharing jobs at this level.

In the job-sharing model, two employees share a full-time position. This is a particularly attractive solution for parents who want to spend more time with their children, for those looking to combine a challenging job and private interests, or for older employees wanting to work a bit less and still pass on their expertise.

When these employees work well together, the employer benefits from two lots of knowledge, two lots of experience and a broader skills set. So it’s a classic win-win situation for both employees and employer.

The State Secretariat for Migration SEM has allowed job-sharing for around 20 years, and has been actively promoting it for the last three years. Where necessary, job-sharing duos receive support in the form of specific coaching, or are given the opportunity to discuss their experiences together. “Within the Federal Administration, we are now leaders in the field,” says the head of HR. But she has no intention of resting on her laurels. “I aim to promote the model further. Most job-sharing at SEM is in the sections or units. We’d like to see positions being shared at departmental level too.”

A job-sharing pioneer

Our new director, Christine Schraner Burgener, has helped to establish flexible working models within the Federal Administration. In the 1990s, she and her husband helped to promote part-time positions and job-sharing in managerial positions. Both of them wanted to devote as much time to their career as to their family.

“Job-sharing was still a novel idea, and there was a lot of persuading to be done. It was even argued that there was only one office available for two people,” remembers Ms Schraner Burgener.

Between 1997 and 2003, the couple finally obtained a shared position as diplomats in Dublin. This pilot project proved successful, and they became the first ambassador-couple to job-share. From 2009 to 2012 they represented Switzerland in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs now has equal numbers of men and women in its top ranks.