"On 1 May, HM Revenue & Customs staged the 'Two Heads are Better than One' cross-government job share conference. Organised by Claire Walsh and Helen Page, and Alex Hill and Beatrice Parrish (two HMRC Senior Civil Service job share partnerships), it was the first time that HMRC has ever put on such an event.
"I think it is absolutely fantastic that we created this conference. We had the most fantastic speakers coming along to talk to people about job sharing, which has been a great opportunity for everyone attending.
"I hope that we keep doing lots more of these sorts of events, welcoming people from across departments, because this really is something we can do right across the Civil Service."
Esther Wallington, Chief People Officer, HM Revenue & Customs
How did the event come about?
At the 2018 HMRC senior leadership team’s ‘unconference’ event, ‘Claire & Helen’ (as this job share partnership is collectively and affectionately known) pitched about increasing the number of job sharers in HMRC. Over the following year they made small inroads and were delighted when HMRC welcomed new Job Sharing Directors in 2018.
Claire & Helen floated the idea of a job sharing conference for HMRC colleagues, to raise awareness about job sharing and its benefits. This was finally realised on May Day.
Why the focus on job share?
The Civil Service People Survey consistently shows that people who job share are more engaged. Research by job-share thought-leading consultancies such as Timewise, Working Families, Workingmums, Capability Jane, and Praesta tells us why that might be and highlights the benefits of job sharing both for individuals and the business they work for.
HMRC has a modest number of job sharers compared to its overall size. Given the benefits of job sharing, one of our key people priorities for this year is to increase the number of job sharers.
As well as making job sharing more visible, this first conference was organised to address some of the myths associated with job sharing and to start people thinking what the department needs to do to increase the number of job sharers.
Over 100 colleagues from departments across government (mostly HMRC, but also Work & Pensions, International Trade, and Cabinet Office) attended the event. They included job sharers, people looking to become job sharers, people managing job sharers, and HR professionals.
Who spoke at the event?
Claire Walsh and Helen Page shared their experience of job sharing and how they came to create the event:
“We have job shared two roles in the last four years. There have been many benefits to job sharing for us personally. The most obvious is that job sharing has allowed us a fantastic work/life balance whilst being in the Senior Civil Service.
“Less obvious, perhaps, is that we have learnt a tremendous amount from each other’s different styles of working, and have coached one another through some challenging times, We really believe that two heads can be better than one so our goal is to ensure that job sharing is a more visible option in HMRC and the Civil Service.
"When we started planning the conference we worried that it wouldn’t be very popular – probably a common worry for people arranging events! We are still blown away that not only was it a sell-out (almost overnight) but everyone actually turned up. We think this is testimony to the interest in job sharing in HMRC, and we will be rolling out events outside London in the near future.”
Ruth Stanier, HMRC Director General, who opened the event, said:
“I was really impressed and uplifted by the conference. It was great to see such a diverse wide range of colleagues – men and women – sharing and considering the many business and wider benefits of job-sharing.”
- Dr Peter Shaw and Hilary Douglas CB, Praesta executive coaches and previous Civil Service Director Generals, who ran an interactive learning session
- Sophie Dean – HMRC’s first-ever Job Sharing Director – leading a Reflections and Q&A session
- Stephen Tolfree, Anna Longman, Rossy Baily and Alison Folkard, who delivered a session about working as a job sharer
- James Stevens and Jackie Orme, delivering a session about being managed by job sharers
- Bethan Cooke and Naya Acheampong, with a session about how HR can support people who want to job share
- Myself and Julie Shroff (both Cabinet Office), who had a modest part in the event, to promote take-up of Civil Service Job Share Finder, which helps civil servants find colleagues across government with whom to form job share partnerships
- Esther Wallington, HMRC Chief People Officer, featured in a video made especially for the event in which she champions Job Sharing
How was the event received?
Event evaluation forms completed by 30% of attendees showed the following responses to questions, on a scale where 1 is no/none and 10 is very/considerable:
What was your knowledge of job sharing before the event?
– average score 4
What was your knowledge of job sharing after the event?
– average score 9
How useful did you find the event? – average score 9
Do you think we should do more of these events? – all survey respondents said a resounding ‘Yes’!