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Posts tagged ‘returnship’

Jobsharing In Chemistry: Lessons learned

Reflecting with our candidates over their experience returning to a career in Chemistry through a pioneering Jobshare has uncovered some interesting lessons, which I’d like to share with you in support of helping more women (and men) advance their careers in science through Jobsharing, whatever your specialism.

“Jobsharing has been the ideal solution for us both, it has enabled us to return to the responsibility and potential of our full-time careers without compromising time with our family”.  

Jane and Helen both used a Jobshare solution as a phased return to full-time employment, taking on the responsibility and potential of a full-time career without compromising family time, or needing their employer to scale down a role.

As Associate Medicinal Chemist for a Contract Research Company, their role entailed applying their expertise in Chemistry to develop new compounds.  This involves everything from researching effective routes, running chemical reactions, synthesising new compounds, and everything in between including ensuring the lab is tidy and there isn’t an empty fume hood!.  Working 2.5 days each, with a half day overlap on the Wednesday, they offered a 1FTE partnership to their employer for a 6 month contract.

At the end of their contract, they were kind enough to take time to reflect on their experience and share how they have benefitted and what they have learned.

What was your first day like?

We both went in together for the induction and then Jane came in on the Tuesday and was straight into the lab and I started the next day.”

Jane: “I wanted as much as I could for people to only have to explain once to us and actually that was a good thing as well because I’d learn once from someone and then again by teaching it to Helen and vice versa.

Helen: “For me, I wanted us to hit the ground running and for people to look at us favourably, so wanted to make sure we got it right first time with learning about the protocol and bits of kit.”

Has it been successful?

Yes it has been a success, on various levels. For us, it’s got us back in a gentler way, we wanted to fulfil their (employer’s) criteria and get back into it and both work part-time.”

“As well as the new compounds we have created, we have received positive feedback like “you’ve tried lots of different things in this area”, “you’ve achieved lots”, “you’ve made lots of compounds and answered lots of questions that needed answering”, which makes me feel like it’s been a positive experience all round.”

What were the benefits?

it is the perfect balance of career and family” – After seven years parenting, Helen could still spend time with her children around homework and clubs and Jane could spend time with her pre-schoolers and get used to new childcare arrangements.

Jobsharing makes me more focussed”. I find the pressure is on a Tuesday afternoon when I know Helen is coming in on Wednesday, I want to show her what I’ve done on Monday and Tuesday and show progress.”  Having a mid-week handover means that Jobsharers are inherently accountable to their Jobshare partner for progress they have achieved on their days, which further boosts productivity.

our employer got two brains on each project whilst only paying for one, because you don’t stop thinking about it on your days off”

We made around 25 new compounds in 6 months” – it’s always difficult to pin this as an indicator of productivity due to the unpredictable nature of research and the varying complexity of compounds, but it’s nevertheless a sign that good progress was made by the partnership.

What are the lessons learned?

Communication is key – “if one is doing the washing up all the time, there’s a certain fairness to making sure it’s an equal share (of all elements of the role), also a lot of the presentations have been with Jane and there’s a certain degree of when you start to realise that somethings happening in such a way saying “are you alright with this?, rather than letting something fester.”  Accepting the success of the partnership as a reflection of your own success is crucial and tight communication with each other is key to this.

Don’t duplicate – “we have ended up with two lab books and separate filing systems, which would mean that on our working days we were walking around with 2 lab books. Instead we could simply share a drawer and a lab book, with the rule that one of us writes up progress using even pages and the other always on odd”.

Inform stakeholders how the Jobshare works – “colleagues would treat us like we were part-time and be reluctant to ask us to do certain duties saying “are you okay to do this lab tidy because I know you’re only in 2.5 days?” – when actually one of us is in all week so we have just as much time as an FTE.”  Introducing the Jobshare to stakeholders at the outset is a fundamental step towards optimising the benefits.

Share targets – “Have common targets and see yourself as sharing the role. At the start we were set separate targets which meant that I put a reaction on on a Friday and by the time I got in the following Wednesday it had been going too long and had biodegraded.”  After about a month, it became quite different as they both focussed on the same compounds and so could ask each other to work up a reaction that one had started; it became a true Jobshare and a lot easier to work with.

Thank you to Jane and Helen for sharing their insights with us, we covered a lot more in our discussion too so please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know.

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Sharing is Caring: Job sharing as a supportive way to return to work

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For parents looking for a flexible way to return to work, job sharing is an option worth considering. Sara Horsfall, Founder and Director of Ginibee, a job share network, describes how job shares provide extra benefits for job sharers beyond reduced working hours.
 
One of the (many) times in a parent’s life we find extremely challenging, is reconnecting with our inner professional after discovering our inner parent. In other words, returning to work.  
Thinking about returning to work can be a particularly lonely time, when we can feel a range of conflicting emotions including guilt (for not being with our child 24/7), paranoia (that none of our parenting skills are relevant /we have “forgotten” our professional skills /people will think we can’t do our job anymore) and gratitude (when we find a role). These feelings can make it a stressful time and one which is often insufficiently supported. So, what if there was a proven way to return to your careerwithout leaving behind new life priorities, that benefits both you and your employer?   
One of the overarching benefits of successful job sharing we often see at Ginibee, for returners, is the supportive nature of the job share partnership. Imagine returning to work with someone who is faced with similar challenges in terms of creating time for other life commitments, whilst sharing similar career experience and ambitionForming a partnership with another enables job sharers to share the responsibility and opportunity of a full-time role without the associated time commitment and in doing so improves confidence (since women often find it easier to recognise the strengths in others than in ourselves), as well as creating the mental and physical space to attend to their life. By being aware of and respecting each other’s motivations and strengths, job sharers live a very fulfilled life both in terms of their career and life outside of work. 
Supportive Benefits of Job Sharing  
So what does being in a supportive job share mean to us?
  • Reduces Stress 

Although progressive employers understand that mentoring support is a key requirement to retain and develop parents as they return to work, it can still be rare. The great thing about job sharing is that successful partnerships self-mentor as part of setting up and maintaining the jobshare. Ruth, who switched from part-time work to job sharing in order to progress to a more senior level as Director of Strategy, said “I feel less stressed as a job sharer, because there’s a proper release valve. In other roles you might vent to your partner or husband at the end of the day, but they’re not in it, so with my job share partner we can really vent to each other and share the challenges, which means it’s not all in your head, and I find that to be really valuable.” 

  • Increases Confidence 
Another job sharer, Polly, says “job sharing is really supportive, which means you can take braver decisions faster, because with the best will in the world, your boss, your mentor etc. isn’t going to be quite as interested and involved as your job share partner. In particular, on management decisions where you might be worried about being too subjective about a matter, when you have both picked up on it you can give clearer, stronger, more objective messages.” 
  • Improves Focus 
When you know your days off really are days off, you have more energy to fully apply yourself on your working days. Employers of job share partnerships report that the inherent accountability of job share partnerships means they are easier to manage as they have another to share ideas and challenges with. Polly says “Being accountable to your job share partner keeps you focused and honest”. 
We only need to look to organisations like the Civil Service, Barclays, Transport for London that have launched jobshare schemes for their employees to see that this is now receiving a higher profile as part of creating and retaining diverse workforces. 
If you would like to access or retain talent through Jobsharing, or if you would are the untapped talent looking for a like-minded Jobshare partner, you can find more information and support, including Ginibee’s jobshare platform at www.ginibee.com.
 
 
Posted by Katerina

Is the term Parental Leave in need of a rebrand?

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One of the key challenges employers face in business is when valued employees take what is currently referred to as “time out” or “parental leave” from their professional career. In many cases it’s treated as a “taboo” with most being conscious of having a gap on their CV that may be viewed as a career break and is almost never discussed in a business context. Yet going on a course to develop our skills is seen as a great move, something which is highly valued by employees and employers alike.

Let’s turn this on its head!

Amongst the top reasons why parenting is so challenging, tiring and fulfilling are the fact that it’s constant and involves learning and immediately applying new skills (many of which you may not consider your strength (in a business context)) “on the job”. Imagine that, your company sends you on a sales course that is never going to end, there is no break from it, you can’t prepare, delegate or fast track. Irrespective of how well you take to it, your new skills will inform the development of new life coming into the world and as such will have consequences for you to deal with. A scary thought.

Yes, there are the obvious “time management”, “patience” and “productivity” skills, which are developed as a necessary requirement of Parenting, but we could all do with honing these irrespective of our specialism. What about the other areas that not everyone considers to be their strength? and in a professional environment some would run a mile from, but in developing as a parent you have no choice but to learn and apply, like:

Sales – skills required on a daily basis to parent a child from the age of 1-2 years old. What are the closing techniques that will successfully persuade your toddler (or older) to choose to process all of the functions that enable them to independently eat their meal, for example, or let you put on their coat, or co-operate in any way?

Performance Management – skills required on a daily basis to parent a child from the age of about 3 years old. What are the key performance indicators of a three year old? How will you measure them and what actions are you looking for as an indication that a reward is due to be awarded or revoked. What method will you use to communicate this and how will you ensure your child understands and is motivated by this process?

Conflict Management – required to parent children from the age of about 2-3 years old. How will you resolve and help your child to resolve conflict with another? How will you deliver news to your child that they don’t want to hear in a constructive way?

Supplier Management – which supplier will you select for your child’s education/ other skills development? What criteria will you use to select and how will you monitor whether it is being successfully delivered? What action will you take if it isn’t being delivered?

Add to that an array of other skills, like Networking, Leading, Events Management, Catering, Confidence Coach, the list goes on. (We can see why parenting is so challenging and indeed why many view going back to work as a break! That way we only need to focus on the skills we feel more comfortable with and consider ourselves successful in!)

Why are we not harnessing this phase of self-development more in the workplace?

Parenting could be viewed as a way of learning and developing ourselves, but most don’t view it in this way.  Instead, the application of new skills is simply viewed as a necessary part of getting things done and swept under the carpet by all, as generic “parenting challenges” that make us so tired.

But is everyone actually missing a trick? Could raising awareness of the learning and development experienced by parents be harnessed more by companies? What if companies decided to change how it’s viewed as part of recruitment and learning and development processes?

 Is the term “Parental Leave” in need of a rebrand?

What if the language around parenting was to change?

What if instead of “parental leave” businesses decided to offer a “parenting skills development” sabbatical and use the “keep in touch” days as an opportunity to review how to apply parenting skills in their profession?

What if, for candidates that are also parents, a portion of their CV and interview process were to be spent exploring rather than avoiding their parenting experience and reflecting on how it has ADDED TO their portfolio of skills in the workplace? Would a different, more respected approach from society create an energy shift that would fill us up rather than drain us of confidence and energy?

Would a rebrand like this, along with an accessible portfolio of truly part-time (3-day a week) working strategies like Jobsharing, reduce key recruitment and diversity challenges?  It’s certainly food for thought.  Perhaps you know of organisations that have already turned it on its head? I’d love to hear your views.

If you’d like to find out more about successful family friendly strategies and support for those who choose parenting and career, please check out http://www.ginibee.com

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