Senior job sharing: HR case study

Vicky Scard and Karen McCabe, heads of HR for kidswear, menswear and home at Marks & Spencer, talk about the benefits of sharing their role

Vicky Scard: “The whole premise of a job share is having similar values, that’s very important. We both do the job differently but we always have the same outcomes in mind and we communicate all the time. I call Karen my work wife. We don’t spend too much time on the phone handing over. Instead we leave voicemails for each other in the evening, updating on pertinent points and sometimes follow that with a call the following day.

“We work with the directors and it is important that they see seamless transitions between us. We have different skillsets and play to our strengths, which maximises the benefit of the job share. It’s so important that when you are dealing with direct reports you are completely aligned in terms of conversations you are having.

“This enables me to be fully involved in my family life and my community but also have a very progressive career. It gives the best of both worlds. The benefits for the organisation are huge: they have two senior heads working on the same role and in theory an extra day, so their support is huge for the job share community.”

Karen McCabe: “It’s been the best move I’ve ever made because it’s given me the opportunity to continue to have a senior position and a progressive career, but equally I’ve had time at home with my son, which was really important to me.

“I am more productive and much more engaged at work because I feel the benefits of that time outside work. We work very hard behind the scenes to make this a seamless role and hopefully that comes across.

“As HR business partners it’s even more critical because with the conversations we have we are really trying to influence people and that can be quite tricky if you’re in one day and not the next. But so far we appear to be very successful with some great outcomes as a result of our different approaches.

“In our role as HR heads we have played a part in mentoring those coming into job shares for the first time and sharing best practice, which fits with HR’s role and responsibility to promote this kind of thing.”

Further reading

The benefits of senior job shares