Job shares going underground

Transport for London has launched a job share scheme which proactively helps employees find job share partners and educates their managers about getting the most out of splitting a role.

Transport for London has long offered job shares as part of its flexible working options, but earlier this year it launched a job share scheme which aims to proactively help find people job partners and prepare them and their managers for getting the most out of splitting a role.

The initiative came about as a result of feedback from TfL's women staff network group and its staff survey which showed a lot of women returning from maternity leave wanted to keep their careers going and retain their role, but on a part-time basis. They felt the only option at the time was to take a demotion if they didn’t want full-time roles. Although the organisation already offered job shares, people said they found it difficult to find a partner.

“When we started looking at a job share register, we felt it could benefit a range of staff, including women, those with disabilities and those nearing retirement. It seemed a win win,” says Equality Manager Kirsteen Singers.

TfL set up a working group with people across HR last Spring to look at how to implement a job share scheme. They spoke to the Metropolitan Police, looked at universities and the NHS and at case studies on They then drew up guidelines about what a job share is, the business benefits, what managers need to do, some top tips for promoting the business case for job shares and some examples of people who did job shares. “We covered all the practical considerations, such as how to do handovers and how to communicate clearly,” says Kirsteen.

The site is linked to via Tfl’s intranet and it features on regular news bulletins. Those who want to register for a job share fill in a form and upload details, such as their grade, job role and business area, what their preferred working days and hours are and the skills their role requires. Others who are looking for a job share partner can request to view those profiles. The onus is then on the employees to contact each other and have a discussion before approaching HR.

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Raising awareness

Since January HR advisers have been educated about the process so that they understand it and can encourage managers to look at it in a positive way. HR have also been trying to raise awareness about the scheme and have been briefing managers about, for instance, advertising that a role can be done as a job share.

So far just over two dozen people have uploaded their details on the register and more than 50 people have requested to view job share profiles. Kirsteen says it can be difficult to get across to some managers the benefits of having two people, often with different strengths, doing one role. “There will always be some resistance from one or two managers who do not like it, for whom the shutters come down as soon as you mention it,” she says. Then there are concerns about the budget implications, for instance, if there is a crossover day so both job share staff are working three days each. “That means paying for six days instead of five and that can be hard when budgets are tight,” says Kirsteen. “However, we have guidelines about how to present the positive side and we feel that momentum will begin to take hold.”

She admits some roles may be more difficult to sell as job share, particularly on the operational side, although she says job shares for drivers could help get around the problems of having part timers on the roster system. The organisation is currently talking to people on the London Underground to find out who works as a job share.

“It’s vital to bring everyone on board. It has to work for both our shareholders and our colleagues,” says Kirsteen.

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