Making the case for job shares

Civil Service Human Resources won the 2018’s Top Employer Award for Innovation in Flexible Working. Find out why below.

Making the case for job shares

Working Mums - Top Employer Awards 2018 at the Soho Hotel

When Brian Stanislas was asked to do a small internal project on job shares little did he know that it would evolve into an award-winning scheme which is now providing a template for other employers facing a range of changing demographic issues affecting the workplace.

In 2014 Brian, who was working in Civil Service Resourcing, was commissioned to lead the development of the Civil Service Job Share Noticeboard, later renamed the Civil Service Job Share Finder service.

The launch of the project followed the publication of the Civil Service’s Talent Action Plan in 2014 which contained the first reference to its aspiration to be the most inclusive employer in the UK by 2020, the extension of the Right to Request Flexible Working legislation to all employees and publication of the Hay Group Women in Whitehall Report on the career progression barriers facing women in the Civil Service.

Brian [pictured receiving the’s Top Employer Award] was tasked with setting up an online job-share database to help civil servants across the service find compatible job share matches. Working collaboratively with the Civil Service Job Share and Alternative Working Network (now the Civil Service Flexible Working Network), the project had senior level support from the offset, with Sir Bob Kerslake, then Head of the Home Civil Service, announcing its inception at the first cross Civil Service Job Share Conference in mid-2014.

Brian had to start from scratch since the service and job shares were so unusual that there were no forms and procedures that could be adapted for the service.

From tech fixes to making the case for job shares

The site was ‘soft launched’ by Melanie Dawes, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Civil Service Gender Champion, on International Women’s Day 2015.

Brian says finding the right IT resource, harnessing the technology to set up the site and using agile methodology were the more straightforward parts of his role in the early days. Although a key milestone was when the site passed the Government Digital Service (GDS) Service Standard Assessment and became a GOV.UK service, he is clear that the main challenge has been raising awareness of job sharing, changing the cultural mindset about different ways of working and getting everyone on board.

That has meant promoting the benefits of having two people’s experience and skills for almost the price of one, retaining experienced professionals and promoting continuity of service [for instance, when one job share partner is on holiday the other is often still around]. Another plus, he says, is that communications are an increasingly vital part of any job and job shares, when done well, hone those skills daily.

Since the job share finder service was launched more than 2,566 people have registered on the site with over 84, including senior females at manager and director level grades, finding job share partners.

As a “Championing Advocate” for job shares, Brian’s role involves writing blogs which highlight the progress made with the service and the business case – that is, what is in it for managers and departments rather than individuals – as well as attending events and raising the profile of job shares. “For me half the battle has been the publicity drive,” he says.

Policy changes

That drive has been helped of late by the Gender Pay Gap audits which have highlighted the issue of female progression and the lack of senior part-time opportunities. He also cites the increased visibility of flexible working, notably the Government’s recent announcement of the development of a job share website for teachers and mention of promotion of flexible working in the coverage of the recent Carers UK report on carers dropping out of the workplace.

Brian is now trying to promote the message that job shares are not just for working mums. He is keen to show that job shares are a solution for a variety of people, from those nearing retirement, carers, people with disabilities and many more. The current statistics show that while 80 per cent of the job share finder site users have been female, 20 per cent are Black and Minority Ethnic employees, at least 10 per cent have disabilities and seven per cent are LBGTi.

He says the site’s aims link up with the Civil Service’s Diversity and Inclusion policy, the new Civil Service Carers’ Charter which came in last year, Civil Service guidance on best practice in job carving [analysing jobs based on the specific tasks involved] and the aspirations of the Flexible Work Taskforce which launched last year.

Upgrading the site

The last year has seen the job share message spread across the Civil Service, through social media, departmental intranets, presentations, job share speed networking events and a range of diversity networks. For instance, Brian did a LinkedIn posts series called “7 Benefits in 7 Posts” which highlighted the positive impacts of job sharing across a range of Diversity & Inclusion areas. He has also been holding job share surgeries where people can ask any questions they might have about job share issues, for instance, if their job share has broken down or been refused. “Many times I feel like an agony uncle!” says Brian. “Job shares are always about relationships. With traditional recruitment it is all about the ability to do a job. With job shares it is all about trust. That is the most important bit.”

The last year has also seen technical and other improvements in the job share service based on user feedback. Changes included building a resources area with information on how to get the most out of a job share and examples of best practice/case studies, making it possible for users to manually focus searches on grades (previously the search was less specific, resulting in quite a daunting list of potential matches) and enabling users to search by their preferred working days.

Spreading the word

Brian has also been spreading the word externally and promoting best practice. He has been invited to speak to private sector employers, including Network Rail, KPMG, Royal Mail and BT, about how the finder service works and how job shares are having a positive impact.

Later this year he is hoping to include best practice advice in the Resource Library to make job sharing work better for managers and employees. There will be practical advice for employees about becoming a job sharer and information for line managers about the benefits of having job sharing staff.

“It’s a growth industry,” says Brian. “From concerns about the ageing population to returners to career changers to the gender pay gap and dads, there is more and more interest in flexible working and job shares provide a solution to the problem of going to the top without being full time.”

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