Career Tails

This Dynamic Duo—20+ Years of Job Sharing

In 1998, two associates, Gail and Tracy, made the case to split one full-time position—and they’re still at it today job sharing a Senior Organization Development Representative position in our Human Resources department.

"We are very fortunate that management was and has always been incredibly supportive," says Gail. "Having this job-share flexibility enabled us to be there for our growing families and to share some irreplaceable and fleeting moments."

Over 20 years ago, both Gail and Tracy shared similar lifestyles—both were married and each had a child that attended the onsite daycare at our Purina Child Development Center. This work arrangement allowed Gail and Tracy a different level of balance in their work and family lives. For the organization, it also meant that two associates were trained to accomplish the same job and could step in at a moment's notice to cover for each other when the need arose.

"It requires agility to step in quickly to ensure there is never a disruption to 'getting the job' done," says Gail. "There were times when 'double duty' was necessary, meaning both of us needed to be at work to cover the needs of the business."

Gail and Tracy remain quite humble as to how much organization, attention to detail, and communication is necessary for this unique situation to work. Both have developed shared checklists and have standardized their work and processes, so they know what is complete and what is ahead on any given project.

"One of the reasons why this is successful for us is because we are ideal counterparts," Gail says. "Also, because of our workflow and processes, we can answer any type of question that comes up, regardless of what stage the project is in or who was last working on it."

"Communication is key,” Tracy says. “We explain our roles to those who are not familiar with it. And if a mistake is made, we don’t blame each other. Also, when something good happens, regardless of who took point, it is always a ‘we’ idea. We had to be agile to collaborate and frequently bounce ideas off each other."

Because of the way the job share position is set up, Tracy works five consecutive days in the office and then has five days off. Gail then picks up where Tracy leaves off. They pass the proverbial baton, which is when they set time to recap the week’s tasks and projects that the other will start, pick up or finish.

"I am absolutely honored to work with such a gifted pair of professionals. Their job performance is seamless and they have done an outstanding job of modeling the partnership needed for a successful job sharing relationship," says Tiffany Alexander, Team Leader, Organization Development.

Upon visiting their workspace at our St. Louis Corporate Headquarters, some noteworthy and interesting characteristics of their job function are that they share a common work area, can read each other’s emails and access each other’s voicemail. This spatial closeness has undoubtedly led to the occasional “twinning” instance.

"One day, when we had to come into the office together, I noticed Gail was carrying a purse that looked familiar,” says Tracy with a grin. “Then I looked over at my bag, and sure enough, it was the same purse."

Collaborative relationships and having perpetual understanding are among the many things that Gail and Tracy say have aided them in their long careers.

"I know that this extremely positive career experience has helped shape my daughter Sarah’s career decision,” Gail says. Sarah has followed in her footsteps and now works at Nestlé Purina in the Finance department. “Working here has allowed us to have more time together, both in the formative years and now also in the workplace—as co-workers. I am always grateful for that."

Click here to learn more about work-life balance and work perks at Nestlé Purina.

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