One year job sharing at Unilever – what has changed?

One year job sharing at Unilever – what has changed?

We met again with Caroline Jackson and Tammy Grillo from Unilever who have now been job sharing for over 1 year. They share their learning as experienced job share partners going through major changes in their role and more recently the challenges brought by Covid-19.

It’s now been a year since you started job sharing. How are you doing and what has changed since you started? 

We are a year into Job Sharing & it’s going really well. The Job Share is great. We are both advocates for the arrangement & have managed to embed it within the Unilever team which is extremely positive. In terms of the set up, not much has changed since we started. Caroline works Mon- Wed & Tammy Wed – Friday so we have Wednesday to handover/collaborate. From the start we said ‘let’s start as we mean to go on’. Set our stake in the ground & expectations of others which has worked well. It was important for us to create the normal from the beginning and stick with it. Due to the nature of our role we continue to follow the Twin sharing model, sharing all responsibilities and KPIs of the role. Naturally over time we each lean into areas more than the other due to our strengths/development areas but from an external perspective we are seen as 1 person.

Have you done an evaluation of your partnership? What has been the feedback?

We carried out end of year feedback for our end of year reviews & also input into our personal development plans. Feedback has been really positive. Our team has shared that they appreciate how seamless things are and that there is no need for repeating messages or doing things twice. As they say often no news is good news & this is often the case with our job share. People often can’t remember who they spoke to which means it’s working.

Have you encountered new challenges?

We definitely know each other better now than before we started job share! At some points we have had different opinions or different approaches to things and that is ok. What is critical is trusting your job share partner and ensuring that there is always open and honest communication.

In our 3 month review we were asked what we would like to see different after being in the role for the next 12 months. We stated ‘little change’ as we had just gone through a re structure. If only we knew! With the global pandemic COVID-19 we definitely didn’t get that! With our role in FMCG being focused on Beauty Products including Health & Hygiene our world at work turned upside down as it did at home, with schools & daycares closed. We now reflect on this period & can say we survived. Together! The frantic nature & the significant increase in work load during this period really required us to step up. A new challenge was the frantic nature of our role, & the need to communicate with so many stakeholders, all whilst working from home. It required us to really step up our communication to ensure consistency of messaging but we often found ourselves writing hand over notes for 3 hours on weekends & working until mid night to get work complete. One thing that was essential was to truly align on the key priorities. What had to be done & what could wait.

Now we are coming out the other side & are in a period of reviving & challenging all of our plans to ensure we adapt our strategies to the new world. We have learnt that communication & continuously assessing key priorities is key. We use the 30,60,90 day priorities model to question & align on whether we are working on the right priorities.

You mentioned previously that some people didn’t understand job share. As that changed over time?

Yes, it has. In most instances people recognise our job share as us being one, and our combined name ‘Cammy’ has stuck. Its more of an educational challenge as some people haven’t experienced it vs people not supporting it. We had a period where new people would always try & arrange meetings on Wednesdays so we could both attend which is not required with a successful job sharing partnership. Also getting the basics right i.e. putting us both on e-mails and meeting invites is essential & something we have embedded with the team.

Did you find new benefits to your arrangements?

Having 6 children between us, we have always been transparent that for us, the purpose of Job Sharing was to enable us to continue our career progression as well as maintaining a work/home life i.e. being there for our children. It definitely enables this & also means on your non work days you can truly switch off, which we did not achieve working part time.

As the Covid19 lockdown impacted your arrangement and the way you work together?

Caroline has been home schooling her eldest and Tammy has had her boys (2 and 3) at home so working from home has been challenging. We have had to be more flexible with our work hours which has meant our overlap time has changed at times. We set clear boundaries from the beginning to manage this. For example, the person whose primary day it was would reply to all emails so that the team did not get confused about who there point of contact was on that specific day.

Do you think job share has helped or not during Covid19 lockdown?

Job share hasn’t helped during the Covid19 lockdown. We had to quickly adapt our ways of working to the virtual world just as everyone else has had to.

Has your handover process evolved or changed especially since Covid19?

As mentioned above, the nature of our role and the sheer volume of work since Covid19 has meant that our handover process has become a lot more time consuming as we try to ensure that everything is covered off. We have continued with the same process, using OneNote for all our handover information and our catch up on or overlap day has now become a virtual catch up.

Anything you wish you knew at the beginning?

It’s been a real positive experience and we are grateful that we have the opportunity to work in the role we have as a job share. We honestly wouldn’t have done anything differently. The challenges we have faced are more external factors that impact whether your Full Time or Job Share i.e. Restructures, global pandemics. Its how you react to this change & adapt at pace together.

Any other tips or tricks for new job share partners?  

Open and honest communication is key. The handover process is important, set a process, ensure you have clear aligned priorities & expectations of what is required of each other and most importantly review and adapt if needed.