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Power of the Parent 5: S3 Ep5: Hannah Hall-Turner – Job Share Pair

Power of the Parent 5: S3 Ep5: Hannah Hall-Turner – Job Share Pair

Today I’m joined by Hannah, one half of the Job Share Pair and what a chat it was! I’ve ‘known’ Hannah and Rachel over Instagram for a couple of years now but it was totally different actually chatting. We explored some of the myths around job sharing, Hannah’s experiences of being in a job share relationship and the mission that this incredible two-some hold. I came away inspired and hopeful more than anything, and with a list of conversation starters for organisations! You can find out more about the work of The Job Share Pair on their website or instagram. 

Episode Transcript

Charlotte Speak  0:06 

Hello and welcome to Power of the Parent, the podcast. I’m your host Charlotte speak, I’m a level seven CMI accredited coach, a strength scope Master Practitioner, Mental Health First Aider and talent consultant. And I’m also the face behind Power of the Parent. In this podcast, I’ll be speaking to parents in the workplace. Some of them are in traditionally employed roles, others are running their own businesses. And we’re having conversations about life in general, insights about being a parent and having a career and exploring the strengths that parenting has awoken for people. We will talk about things like the value that they’re bringing to the workplace, as well as my guests very generously sharing their personal stories and anecdotes about everything life can throw at us.

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Power of the Parent, the Podcast. Today, I am joined by one half of The Job Share Pair, Hannah in particular. At The Job Share Pair, their purpose is to help job sharers to achieve true work life balance, career fulfilment and to feel empowered in all areas of your life. Through coaching and consulting, they help job share couples maximise their potential and partner with organisations to truly understand the commercial benefits of job sharing. As well as the engagement implications it can have which, I can tell you straight away, is hugely phenomenal. I’m so excited to be able to talk to you today and we’ve got like living proof of jobs sharing, the benefits of it because we were going to have a conversation with Hannah and Rachel, poor Rach is having COVID rip through her house right now. But we’ve still made it happen because Hannah’s here. So, thank you so much, Hannah.

Hannah Hall-Turner  1:50 

Thank you for having me. It is such a joy to be here. I will be missing Rach, that’s for sure. And I feel a little bit naked, actually. But no, thank you for having us and helping us spread the job-sharing word. That’s amazing.

Charlotte Speak  2:02 

Well, it’s a topic really close to my heart for a number of reasons. I can’t say that I’ve ever job shared, but I’ve been around lots of job sharers. And I’ve seen some of the really positive narrative that they can face, and I’ve also seen some of the utterly shocking narrative that job sharers can face and I think it’s a conversation that, it needs to be louder, and it needs to be heard. And the world is very noisy, isn’t it, particularly for flexible working? That I think we’ve just got to be able to cut through some of this stuff now. So, I have covered, kind of, some of the mission and purpose there. Is there anything that you’d want to add to that intro?

Hannah Hall-Turner  2:39 

No, 100%, you’ve covered it. It’s amazing to listen to actually. Thank you.

Charlotte Speak  2:45 

A lot of things, your words, it’s just, you know, that’s the power of LinkedIn bios, and watching you on social media, like not in a weird way. But being connected on social media and seeing what you and Rach do. It’s a really strong brand and, you know, as soon as you find your page or your LinkedIn posts, you know what it is that you’re going after. Yeah, it’s all you, I’m just playing it back. [Thank you.] So, there were a few questions that I was like dying to ask you around job sharing. One of the things that I really wanted to know is, has there been like a really big surprise with job sharing? Was there anything that sort of caught you off guard? Like in a good way? Was there a kind of any positive ripples that you didn’t anticipate?

Hannah Hall-Turner  3:29 

Yeah, I think loads, in summary loads. I think the biggest one for me is the amount of development that I’ve had from working that closely with Rachel. I mean, we were really lucky before we started job sharing, we’d worked together before, we knew how each other operated. But actually, Rachel is so unbelievably strong in so many areas. So, we worked in HR, so we were HR directors, when we first started job sharing, and her, you know, her technical knowledge around things like employment law really helped me in that role. You know, before I would go to, I don’t know, our employment lawyers for some advice, perhaps, but now I had an expert working alongside me that I could just chat to on a Wednesday, our crossover day, to kind of just gauge whether I’m doing things in the right way or whatever. And actually, one of the myths that we try and kind of quash very, very early on is that job sharing doesn’t mean additional line management. Because actually, rather than go to my line manager to kind of discuss and bounce ideas around, I would go to Rach, and we would use some of that time that we had together on a Wednesday. And so actually, I was speaking to my line manager less because I was, you know, talking to Rach about it and I’ve really developed as a professional. I really have, through that close working relationship with Rachel and that was a really great surprise and I think the second positive that kind of stems from that is, I’ve got a right-hand person at work. So whether that’s for support, whether it’s, you know, to bounce ideas off, like we’ve said, or whether it’s business continuity, you know, we know whilst we’re running our own business, as you know, it’s really hard when your kid’s poorly, or when you’re poorly or when you know, you’ve got a, I don’t know, like, you’ve got a life admin deadline to do but, actually, because I’ve got Rachel, she knows my boundaries, I can talk to her about what I’ve got going on personally, as well as workwise and it just means that for our business, we’ve been able to continue, you know, week by week by week. So, if one of us drops, the other one steps up, you know, and actually, so right, Rachel, as you said is, bless her, currently down with COVID as is most of her family, but back in July, all my family had COVID, as well. And we had a huge week, we were starting a coaching programme with a new client and Rach just had to pick that up, you know, and she really stepped up. And, yeah, I just feel really lucky, and I say it all the time but job sharing has genuinely changed my life.

Charlotte Speak  6:13 

Yeah, but you can hear it in your voice. And I do remember that you said something there about that myth around job sharing can mean more line management responsibility. I can kind of see the logic of why that becomes a myth or a bit of a, you know, self-fulfilling prophecy, because you’ve got two people, but I love what you’ve shared there around actually, the relationship with your job share partner can then take on a whole different meaning can’t it. And in this world of you know, not all development is linear and upwards, it’s really lovely to kind of have that peer-to-peer support, isn’t it?

Hannah Hall-Turner  6:51 

Definitely, and I think when you’re finding your job share partner, it isn’t about finding clones, that’s not the point of it, you know, what you need to do is find complementary skills. Not everyone can be brilliant at everything. And actually, we worked out very quickly that we’re quite different people as well, when it comes to work, Rachel is a complete reflector, she likes to take a step back, you know, get everything to sink in, and then make a decision, whereas I am completely impulsive. Stupidly, so at times. And so, what that means is, when we’re working together to kind of make a decision, we’ve got the best of both of us, and we kind of get somewhere in the middle, you know, so it’s kind of a more rounded decision as well.

Charlotte Speak  7:36 

Are there any other myths that you’ve kind of come across that you’ve really had to dispel?

Hannah Hall-Turner  7:41 

Lots, again. Yeah, I think that the biggest one, and I know I’ve seen you talk about it, as well, Charlotte, is that job sharing is just for returning mums, so people coming back from maternity leave. And yes, it’s a great way – it’s an amazing way to retain your working mums, an amazing way, and why would you not do that. But it isn’t just for working mums, it’s for working dads, it’s for people who want to watch TV for a couple of days, you know, people who want to give back to their community, people who want to, you know, commit to lifelong learning. And actually, it’s my favourite example, there was, I think her name’s Hannah Marshall, and she is in the Irish women’s hockey team. So, she was going to the Olympics and she job shared her role as a primary school teacher so that she could commit to training for the Olympics. You know, there’s not a one size fits all when it comes to flexible working, anybody can work flexibly. So that’s the biggest myth. And it’s sometimes it feels disingenuous for us to try and dispel that myth, because it was it for us, we started job sharing because we were returning from maternity leave. But you know, we’ve met so many people, so many job sharers that job share for different reasons. And I think the second myth would probably be that you need to know your job share partner, it’s about 50% of job sharers that don’t know their job share partner before they do job share and yes, you know, as I said before, it was great that I knew Rachel and it was great that we knew that we had that working chemistry. But I’ve also jobs shared with somebody that I’ve never met before in my life when Rachel went on her second maternity leave and so, you know, we made that just as much of a success because we had honest conversations about what our working values were, you know, how we wanted to work, how we were going to talk to our clients, how we were going to kind of be seen as one, I guess, to our clients and our team members as well. That’s another thing. And Rachel and I like to kind of mention that because I think sometimes when people see us on Instagram, or you know, hear us on podcasts like this, they can kind of sense that we’ve got that chemistry and it can put people off you know, it can put people off thinking well, it’s alright for them because they knew each other and they had that kind of history, but you absolutely don’t need to know your job share partner.

Charlotte Speak  7:48 

I really love that as a point. And I think it’s something, I bet, that is a huge myth amongst the people who are looking for a job share setup, because if I think back to some of the corporate days where I was on the other side of it when I was sat at those HR desks, so I wasn’t an HR business partner, but it was a big team and you do you soak up all of the conversations, don’t you? And sometimes it would come from a place of, you’d hear the conversations about I really want to job share and I think the best way to make this role work and accommodate what I’m looking for would be a job share but I don’t know anybody else that wants to job share. And that’s where you’d kind of then be left hanging. And that was almost the answer; I don’t know anybody else, so that’s my barrier. And that must feel like a huge barrier to an individual but for all the reasons you’ve just said, I mean, we did try and encourage as much as possible for people to, how can we facilitate it, if we did know somebody else in the wider business that might have been looking, we’d have a look to see if that could work. But that wasn’t common practice, that was if you hit the right conversation at the right time and it’s that attitude towards job pairing, it’s almost like I don’t know, a bit of an unintended consequence. This is just coming into my head now is almost, I think, sometimes as a recruiting line manager, you perhaps think that you’re trying to make two halves into a whole. And it’s not that is it? The idea is that you do have two different people, you’re not trying to find the clone.

Hannah Hall-Turner  10:08 

Exactly that. And I think there is a huge barrier, in that job sharing is still so rare. So, you know, I’ve got I’ve got a stat that I wrote down, I definitely wanted to get in: in 2021, 122,000 employees were on job sharing contracts in the UK. So that’s barely anything, right? It was about 3,000 from the previous year and I think in the way that we’re working now, it’s got barriers that we have that the concept of job sharing, or examples of job sharing just aren’t seen in organisations and so when somebody thinks about it, you know, they’re thinking, right, okay, I need to find a job share partner. It hasn’t been done before so you know, we’re really worried about this change. Change is a really scary thing, particularly for organisations and I get it, I completely get it. But it doesn’t have to be hard, it isn’t difficult and actually, the benefits that you get when you do get job share partners, you know, are I mean, we say endless, you’ve got really committed employees you’ve got, well, there was a study in Forbes that said that job shares were 30% more productive. And so commercially 30% product, increase in productivity, that’s huge. Think of all the stuff that could get done.

Charlotte Speak  12:55 

That’s amazing impact on productivity, well overall performance.

Hannah Hall-Turner  12:59 

Yeah, when Rachel and myself worked in corporate, I would work Monday to Wednesday, and then she would work Wednesday to a Friday now on the Monday, I’m coming in totally refreshed. And then on Wednesday, I’m coming in really excited to kind of spend some time with Rachel as well. And then she bounces in as well, you know, re energise and, you know, it doesn’t mean that on the days that we’re not working, which we call home days is, you know, because they’re definitely not working days, because we’ve got toddlers, and you know, you’re running around, aren’t you? But even on those days, that doesn’t mean that you’re not thinking about work, it just means that you’re not doing work, you know, and so you’ve kind of got those two minds, really thinking about how to solve problems, or, you know, what do we need to do to improve this? Yeah.

Charlotte Speak  13:43 

I think you’ve touched on something really important there, for any parent, whether the job sharing or not, is that you’re human, and you can’t switch your brain off completely. And that doesn’t mean that we want to encourage people to always be thinking about work and always be on because there’s a there’s a line, right? That kind of inspiration comes from lots of different places, doesn’t it? And you can be, depending on what job you do and what environment you find yourself in, you can be out at the park with the kids and see something and think, oh, we could try that or that’s given me a bit of inspiration or I’ve just seen, you know, how this works in a different business because I’ve visited it with my smalls and this was my experience. Have we thought about this? And yeah, that is a huge benefit, isn’t it? So, you’ve got two brains doing that in a job share. But you’ve also got just generally as a baseline, it’s the fresh pair of eyes that I so often have to talk about that, yes, they might be tired eyes, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any less, they’re no less, they’re not worth less. It’s, it’s huge, and it’s massively beneficial to help engage those people because if you think about your engagement pre being a job sharer, and all the things that you had post job sharing, like, how does that, you know, how does that compare?

Hannah Hall-Turner  15:10 

There’s differences and there’s comparisons. So, I’ve always loved my job, you know, I’ve worked in HR now for, oh, it’ll be almost 15 years, and I get my energy through and with people. And so, HR has always been the perfect role for me. And in terms of engagement, pre job sharing, I’m going to even think of engagement pre being pregnant, because you know, you’ll know what it’s like when you’re pregnant. It’s really hard. You’re focusing on that finishing line, because you’ve just feeling ‘knackered’ all the time, aren’t you? Yeah, I’ve always been super engaged at work, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to speak about, you know, making improvements where I can add value, blah, blah and so I have always been highly engaged. I think the difference in terms of engagement, when you become a job sharer is around, I guess, the accountability. So not only are you now accountable to your organisation, to your line manager, but you’re also accountable to your job share partner. And so, for me, that really made me try and kind of up my game even more. So, and it’s funny, so Rachel would have a really great week, so her half of the week would be fantastic, you know, she’d get through loads and loads of work, she’d think about really cool ideas, Rachel’s far more creative than I am, but that really inspired me then at the start of the next week to be like, okay, I got you here, I’m going to have an amazing week as well. And so, in terms of that engagement, it became really fun, because you’re working hard, not just for your organisation, not just for you, but you’re working hard for someone else as well. And I would never want to hand over to Rachel, something that hadn’t been done like two weeks ago. And so, I’d always want to do a great job for her, and I’d always want to make sure that our clients, and you know, the people that we worked with, were happy with our work, not just for me, but for her as well. It really kind of gave that additional level of accountability, and you really care like, and it’s your career, you know, you’re trusting someone else with your career as well. And so, you do care about it, lots, as you can probably tell.

Charlotte Speak  17:29 

Yeah, I don’t know, there’s a lot on the line, isn’t there? And again, it can, I think it goes back to some of those myths that people sometimes think that isn’t the mentality, and it’s like, well, you know, there’s two of us doing it so somebody’s going to pick up the slack type of approach and it just, okay, maybe that might have happened somewhere in the world, but that doesn’t define job sharing, that isn’t the only way to look at it and it’s hopefully very much in the minority. Everybody that I’ve ever worked with, who’s done a job share, I would say completely go against that as a belief and as a way of working, I guess one of the things that I do try and balance as much as possible, I’m not always that balanced, as my family will tell you, I do try and balance that there’s more than one narrative out there. And I can sometimes operate in a bit of a vacuum of look at all this amazing stuff that happens when you work with parents and job sharers or different flex setups and stuff. And I do appreciate that sometimes some of the more kind of negative narrative beliefs, they’ve come from somewhere. But it’s more the, what I want to push for is that openness to challenge that thinking, but we’ve got to really shake up well, is this true? Is this 100% true? Or actually, are there different scenarios that can play out here? And yes, one of them might be, it’s not going to work, but there’s also 47 others, [Yeah,] actually, where it does work. You know, I think it’s just embracing that sometimes, isn’t it?

Hannah Hall-Turner  19:05 

I totally agree. And, you know, we aren’t stupid enough to say, you know, that job sharing works for everyone, you know, if you’re somebody who likes to retain information, who’s perhaps quite competitive with other people, then job sharing is not going to be for you. And also, you know, whilst we think that job sharing can work in most roles, we’re also kind of awareness astute enough to kind of say, look, you don’t need job share in some roles. So, for example, I don’t know, in a call centre where, you know, you kind of start the day, you’ve got the things that you need to do, and you end the day where you probably wouldn’t need to give a huge handover. Well, that could be a part time role. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a job-sharing role. But we do think you can job share most roles, you know, and we what we want to do is really challenge organisations to your point, to think differently. And so, we’ve done some work actually recently with an amazing tech company, who would just work with their recruitment team who really wanted to open the doors to different candidates, you know, to people that perhaps did need flex hours or whatever and they kind of came to us to talk through, how could we tap into a huge untapped talent pool. And so, we talk to them about job sharing, and how they can make that work in the organisation, because there is a huge untapped talent pool out there. And unfortunately, it’s mainly women who need to work flexibly, but because women need to work flexibly, it doesn’t mean that they’re no longer ambitious, it doesn’t mean that, you know, they’re no longer employable. I know Power of the Parent is all about those skills that you really gain when you become a parent, and we’re fully behind you, as you know. But I think organisations really need to start thinking differently about how they’re recruiting, where they’re recruiting, because there are so many people who are just so brilliant, and just need somebody to say, yeah, you can, of course, you can pick up your child from school, you know, of course, you can go to the, I don’t know, to the doctor’s appointment at nine o’clock with your child, because they need that medicine or whatever. I think, and I am seeing more organisations open to kind of people bringing their whole selves to work and allowing and kind of getting, you know, techniques, I guess to allow for that which is really great. But I’m also seeing, I don’t know about you, but I’m also seeing post pandemic, a lot of organisations saying no, we’ll go back to how it was before. [Yeah.] So short sighted. [Yeah.] So short sighted. But I hope that one thing that is good that will come from the pandemic is that people are thinking differently about how they work and how they live. So fingers crossed, that we will kind of see an increase in not just job sharing, but flexible working and not, you know, formal, flexible, working, just people thinking differently around, you know, if you have somebody in your team that says to you, you know what, I really want to go and see my parents who live up north or whatever, can I leave work at three o’clock on Friday, so I can get a cheaper train, and I can get to them for dinner time. You know, it’s simple conversations like that, it’s people thinking differently, and I’m encouraged that that might be the case moving forward, fingers crossed.

Charlotte Speak  22:25 

I love that. I think that’s a really lovely and tangible conversation to be able to have with people, I don’t do lots of talking about flexible working with clients, to be honest, because it obviously comes up in my line of work, but it isn’t one of the biggest topics. However, I have, for a long time, warned people against having informal flex setup, because if you then, if that’s with that specific line manager, they move on, somebody else comes in and tries to change it, I guess, coming from the worst case scenario, there’s a definite negativity bias going on there, possibly speaking from personal experiences, and seeing other you know, seeing other people go through stuff. But actually, to echo what you’ve just said that it would be so lovely to not have to give that as a health warning because actually, there’s huge benefit to having some of the informality there, because we’re nuanced humans, situations change all the time, if fundamentally, we know this is the job that we’re here to deliver, I’m going to get that done. And one week, I’m going to get it done by doing it this way, and the end result for customers, they’re not going to feel any different. It’s me, the way that I’m working, it’s going to feel different, then that’s true flexibility, isn’t it? It isn’t, in a lot of cases, flexible working setups actually end up not being that flexible. So, you know, let’s, let’s embrace some proper agility here.

Hannah Hall-Turner  23:51 

Absolutely. 100%, 100%. Why would you not want your employees to work their best, you know, by giving them that choice, and actually, if there’s a question there about trust, that’s what you’ve got to look into. It’s not about how they’re, you know, how they’re working is. It’s all about that trust, I think.

Charlotte Speak  24:10 

Yeah, absolutely. I love it. Thank you so much for joining me today. Really lovely place to end the conversation for now. Better get Rachel on I think as well in a future series. [Yes. She’d love that.] This conversation, like we’ve said offline, is not going anywhere, because I think even if we nail it next week, for parents, for anybody that’s looking to job share, for all forms of flexible working, it’ll just evolve, won’t it? The conversations will become different because I think it is good. I think it’s healthy to have some of the conversation around it to help us keep exploring, isn’t it?

Hannah Hall-Turner  24:51 

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think you know; it isn’t going away. Like you say it really isn’t going away. We’re yet to see kind of what the impact of the way that we’re working now is going to have on things like employment law and all of that. So, you know, that’ll start to come through, I think fairly soon. But it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves. We’re definitely in a really exciting time, I think around the future of work. So yeah.

Charlotte Speak  25:16 

Yeah. Let’s watch with very eagle eyes. Thank you so much for joining me today, if there are people listening, who want to come and find you both, find out more about your work, where is the best place for us to do that?

Hannah Hall-Turner  25:30 

There’s a couple of places. So, we’ve got our Instagram accounts @thejobsharepair, we are on LinkedIn as well through the company page, but also Hannah Hall-Turner and Rachel McGuire. And then we’ve got our website, which kind of has a bit more information about job sharing in general, a little bit about our services, and kind of some key features as well. So that’s www.thejobsharepair.com and then if anybody has any burning questions, we can be contacted at hello@thejobsharepair.com.

Charlotte Speak  25:58 

Amazing, thank you and I will link all of those in the show notes so if you’re listening, you can head on in there and you’ll be able to click through and find Hannah and Rachel, thank you so much again and take care.

Hannah Hall-Turner  26:09 

Thank you.

Charlotte Speak  26:14 

Thanks very much for tuning in to Power of the Parent, the podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, please rate, review and subscribe. And if you could tell all your friends about the podcast that would be wonderful. If you’d like to get in touch, you can find me on Instagram. Just search Power of the Parent. See you next time.

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