Nicki Eastman and Di Misic share the role of HR manager at VenuesWest. Here they talk about the benefits of job sharing and the need to act as one.
Tell us about your role at VenuesWest.
Nicki Eastman: Our role is diverse because our organization is diverse. We’re in the public sector but we have to deliver to commercial customers, community groups and elite sports associations. We have to tailor our strategy as we could be working with positions as diverse as lifeguards, accountants and strategic planners.
Di Misic: We’re often referred to as ‘not vanilla’ – we have a different flavour to the rest of the public sector. It’s a hands-on role and we’re heavily involved in recruitment, payroll, training and development. We could be looking after a staff grievance while handling an enterprise bargaining agreement or providing strategic advice to the CEO and the executive team.
What are some of the challenges of job-sharing, and how have you overcome them?
NE: Our biggest initial challenge was proving it could work. I was going on maternity leave in 2009 and didn’t want to return to a full-time position, so we had to convince our CEO to try it. He was skeptical at first as he thought he’d have to repeat things. For it to truly work, you need to run the position as if it is ‘ours’. You have to be able to trust in your partner and present a united front.
DM: When job-sharing, some people like to split the functions. Here, because it is so operational, people like to come into the office and know that regardless of who they’re talking to, we are on top of every aspect of the role. That’s one of the challenges – it requires strong communication, a clear work plan and extensive hand-over notes.
What have been your greatest achievements in the role?
DM: We’ve embarked on a major organisational structure review and introduced a workforce diversity plan. This year, receiving the HR Practitioner of the Year Award was a great surprise. We were up against some impressive talent and didn’t expect to win.
NE: Over the past few years VenuesWest has pursued strong growth, from four to 10 venues now worth around $2 billion. During that growth phase, our HR team has stayed relatively the same – we haven’t had to outsource any of the HR function.
What tips would you give other individuals or organisations who are considering job-sharing?
DM: For organisations, I’d say be open-minded and prepared to give it a go. There are many outstanding individuals who can contribute so much but may not be available full-time. The two ‘right’ people can add more to a role than one person alone, but you need to recruit the right mix of skill sets. Nicki and I have different strengths, and that rounds out the role.
NE: There are so many benefits to job-sharing, both for the individual and the organisation. Individuals get flexibility and career development, as well as a greater work/life balance. In terms of recruiting for a job-share position, if one person is already working there, make sure they are actively involved in the decision.