UK Civil Service, Finalist 2015, The Santander Best New Flexible Working Initiative Award

Civil Service Resourcing and the Civil Service Job Share Working Group have developed an online tool which allows all civil servants to identify and contact each other when looking for a job-share partnership. The aim is to uphold the Civil Service’s commitment to being a flexible employer and to increase the number of staff finding and applying for job-sharing roles. There is an expectation that up to 2000 staff may use the finder to look for job-share partners within the first year of operation.

The Civil Service ‘Job Share Finder’ was launched on 9 March 2015 and is backed up by excellent technology. The tool is easily accessible by smart phones and tablets (including personal devices) as well as by PCs, to fit in with busy lives of civil servants, who may need to use the tool away from their departments as well as in their offices. Searches happen automatically on registration by grade, location, department and area of expertise. Previously, job-share partners could only be identified either by managers putting two part-time workers together, or by word of mouth. This meant it was not very easy to find a compatible partner, especially across government departments.

Rather than a top-down initiative, the Job Share Finder was an idea discussed at various job-share, part-time staff and women’s networks. It was further supported by large attendances at job-share networking events organised in London in June and November 2014 – approximately 150 people came to each event.

An agile process was used to build the finder to ensure that it would provide the required service. This included identifying user stories to ascertain what it needed to do and organising work groups of job-sharers, those interested in job-sharing and those who had not considered it as a flexible working option. Over 50 potential users, including staff from disability networks, tested the ‘live’ prototype that was hosted on a private space. The results of this testing were used to build the finder and incorporate the functionality users were expecting – for example the ability to message each other from the finder and a URL link to the Civil Service jobs website. A secure process for accessing the site while not in the office was developed, to ensure people, such as women on maternity leave, could benefit from it.

Within the first weeks of launch there were over 200 registrations (22 at director grade), and at the recent ‘Champion Difference’ event to launch the updated Talent Action Plan, Sir Jeremy Heywood, the current Head of the Civil Service, hailed it as one of the five key ‘reasons to cheer’ for the year.

The tool will provide valuable statistical information about people looking for job-shares and their journey to find a job-share partner, which has not been available in the past.