Part-time employee, fully engaged

Part-time workers


Part-time employees at RBS have a higher level of employee engagement than full-timers. spoke to Melissa Stevenson, herself an engagement manager, to find out why.

Melissa has only just returned from maternity leave and is getting back to grips with her senior job as an engagement manager at RBS where she has been working for 12 years. The role supports the director of communications and includes organising guest speakers for training events and running a communications academy for the whole communications function at RBS.

Melissa went part time after going on maternity leave for a year and works Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

She says her return was “scary”, but her team has been incredibly supportive if, for instance, her baby is not well. “It’s very much you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” she says. Her boss has a strong family ethic. “Having a boss like that makes the world of difference,” she says.

Melissa came back to almost the same job she left but with a different line manager and a bigger team.

The biggest change she has had to negotiate has been working three days a week. “I had only known full-time work,” she says. “I had the freedom before to stay a bit later and come in early, but now it’s different. I have to focus more.”

She can’t drop off her son at nursery any earlier than 8am so gets into work at 8.30am and has to leave by 4.30pm. She has no grandparents nearby and her husband works full time so she has to be around for pick-ups and drop-offs.

However, she has her Blackberry and can log on to her desktop from a laptop or home computer using virtual client services if she needs to catch up.

Melissa feels she gets a lot done in a day and laughs that she’d like to conduct a scientific experiment to see what working mums’ productivity is during their working days. “I suspect it’s pretty high!” she says.

Internal statistics for RBS, which won the Top Employer Award for Employee Engagement, show part-time workers are more engaged than other employees and Melissa believes that, in her case certainly, it is because she feels there has been some form of recognition of her previous hard work involved in letting her go part time.

She says: “I feel that my request to change to part time hours was welcomed. I like to think this is RBS repaying me for my loyalty as I am at a point in my life when they can help me out. That makes me feel more engaged and more productive.”


Melissa has recently become an RBS ambassador. It’s an internal scheme which involves promoting positive changes in the business and correcting any myths or errors she hears about RBS.

“If we didn’t have the ambassadors I think it would be a longer route to recovering our reputation,” she says.

The voluntary ambassador scheme has been going for around four years and there are now 6,000 RBS ambassadors around the world. They function more on a word of mouth basis rather than formally addressing, for instance, negative stories about RBS in the press. “It’s about taking baby steps to show that we are heading in the right direction and to inform people better about what we are doing,” says Melissa.

Flexible working

Although she is pleased with the flexible working she has Melissa would like to see more part-time roles on offer to staff and more positive role models of men working flexibly because they are sharing childcare.

Her team is involved in the Choice programme which is an RBS-wide attempt to look at employees’ working practices and are surveying over 250 people in her department about how they work and how they would like to work in the future.

“We are keen to find out, for instance, if people have more choice over their working practices, how this might impact their productivity,” says Melissa.

She cites how remote working could help the environment and also create a greater sense of satisfaction and creativity at work by providing more space.

Melissa says she is focused for now on doing her job to the best of her abilities, but hopes eventually to progress up the career ladder. “I do not see my having worked part time as a hindrance to my career,” she says.

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