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Staff at YMCA Speak Out About Value of Job Sharing

4 July 2016 at 11:22 am
Wendy Williams
Job sharing could be the future for working parents, according to staff at YMCA.

Wendy Williams | 4 July 2016 at 11:22 am


Staff at YMCA Speak Out About Value of Job Sharing
4 July 2016 at 11:22 am

Job sharing could be the future for working parents, according to staff at YMCA.

Bree Godden and Emma Whale

Co-communications managers Bree Godden (L) and Emma Whale (R)

With the support of the Not for Profit organisation, colleagues Bree Godden and Emma Whale have found a way to successfully job-share a senior role as communications managers.

According to the pair, who have five children under the age of 13 between them, many working mums have little choice but to compromise when they return to work, either by taking part-time jobs beneath their expertise, pressing pause on their career aspirations or accepting roles that pay pennies.

Mother-of-two Godden, who works with YMCA NSW three days a week, told Pro Bono Australia News that parents should not have to choose between their careers and their children and that job sharing offered a solution.

“I want to have a career, I want to keep striving for bigger and better opportunities in my professional life, so I didn’t want to let my kids, as much as I love them dearly and I love being a parent, I didn’t want to let that affect my own personal desire to succeed in my communications career,” Godden said.

“I think the job share, to tell the truth, is better than a part-time arrangement.

“I just think that this is really the way of the future, purely because you are going to have happier staffers, you are going to have staffers who have got a balance and therefore when they come into work, they have already had their personal time off and they’re kind of rearing to go and they want to have that work moment.

“But also you’re getting two for the price of one, really you’re not going to be able to get the skill set that some people put out on a job description in one person. Whereas with two people you probably will come off with a variety of skills that an individual can’t possess alone.”

The duo began pitching themselves jointly for management positions as job-share roles after working together for three years.

Godden said the YMCA was a good fit for her and Whale.

“Emma was my previous boss when we worked for Sydney Water,” Godden said.

“Emma had already had her children but had to come back full time which she wasn’t necessarily enjoying because her youngest had started kindergarten, and she was missing out on seeing those milestones. And I had just come back from having my first child so I kind of felt like the only option I had to keep my career going was to come back five days a week with a 10 month old in care full time, which kind of just broke my heart.

“So we just got to talking and we approached Sydney Water about part time and they unfortunately just couldn’t accommodate flexible work at that point. So Em just said to me ‘I feel like we have very complementary skills, as long as you wouldn’t feel awkward about coming alongside and working at an equal level as your old boss, lets go for this’ and I was like yeah, let’s do this.

“So we just began talking about it, we put down on paper what we would bring as a package and how there was no way you could ever recruit a single person that would have all of that skill set and then we presented. Sydney Water said they were willing to give it a trial and they did for six months, which was great, however they still weren’t as embracing as we would have hoped they would have been… It was good to get that start and we had already worked for that organisation for five years in our separate roles, but then once we realised we could do it and we made it work really well it was seamless, it allowed us to have work life balance, it allowed us just to be happier in our own lives because we were actually having time with our families as well as progressing in our careers we went out externally.

“When we presented it to the YMCA it was quite amazing because we went in ready, all guns blazing to sell job share and pitch the idea of how beneficial it would be for the organisation and the CEO was like ‘no need to pitch, I think you’re right, we’re getting two heads for the price of one and in the comms industry that is definitely needed’, so that was really great.

“Everyone here has been so welcoming and accommodating.

“We can see and feel the values alignment, and that makes coming to work a pleasure.”

Godden said her and Whale were committed to making it work.

“I think the benefit with Emma and I is we are friends as well, we’re not just colleagues so we are in touch often,” Godden said.

“…Once a fortnight Em picks up a third day and we do a day where we are both in the office every second Monday, which everyone loves, they’re like ‘oh double trouble is in town, what’s up today ladies?’ Everyone just gets a real kick out of it, to see us both there. And it’s true when we are both in office my goodness the productivity is insane, but it’s really helpful to have that cross over day.

“But really it comes just down to being available and because we want to make it work and because this is something that really benefits us personally we do take time out of our evenings to call and do a really good handover, but the other benefit I suppose is that it means if there was ever a really big drama, which there has been, or a critical incident and I’m just not sure what approach I should take, I can just call Em and say what would you do rather than hire a PR consultancy, which you would have to pay through the roof for. I can just ring my job share partner and get a second opinion and know that the direction we are going to take is the right one.”

Whale said they wanted people’s experience of them to be seamless.

“If someone picks up the phone to call either of us, or meets with us, they should get the same response,” Whale said.

“Plus if one of us in on holidays, the other can step in to cover the other.”

Godden said she would encourage other working parents to “go for it”.

“When I first started trying to get back into work, after having kids my confidence was really low, and I felt like I would maybe have to step back into a media officer role or a clerical role even, because you just didn’t feel as embraced and people just thought oh, you’ve got kids and they look at the lower role which was really upsetting, so I think you just have to back yourself, trust the experience of your job share partner and go for it.

“I feel like people look at a job share as a bit of a dirty word but it has really been amazing, it has been a huge success for us and I think if you spoke to our CEO or HR manager I guarantee that they would say it is the best decision they have made for their comms role in the past five years, so it’s great.”

HR general manager Karen Twitchett supported the initiative.

“It’s about the right person for the job, or in this case, people,” Twitchett said.

“And daily we see the benefit of two considered viewpoints coming at an issue – it’s like the old saying, two heads are better than one.”

CEO Leisa Hart said she wanted to encourage other leaders and workplaces to consider the merits of flexible work arrangements.

“If flexible work arrangements, such as this job-share can align with one of our values by providing children with more time to be empowered and supported by their parents, then it’s definitely something that I’m going to support and encourage fellow CEOs and people managers to consider,” Hart said.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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