In the second year of its Return to Work programme Shell is offering 11 people the chance to get back into the workplace on a flexible basis.
In September the Shell Group of Companies in the UK (Shell) will be opening its doors to Returners in a six-month programme designed to help those who have taken career breaks back into work – and boost the company’s access to talent.
It’s the second time Shell has run its Return to Work programme, following a successful 2018 pilot for eight candidates, seven of whom were women. The programme is ideal for those looking to step back into work in a structured way, with an employer who understands the need for flexibility and balance.
The initiative is supported by senior management as a key part of Shell’s diversity efforts. “To be a truly competitive and resilient company through energy transition, we must attract and retain the very best talent, from all walks of life and all backgrounds. This programme is about accessing untapped talent; ensuring we leverage their experience, capability and help them unlock their potential,” says UK Country Chair Sinead Lynch.
Applications are now open, with 11 places available across a variety of departments. The six-month programme starts in September and runs until March 2020. Successful candidates can expect engaging work, as well as flexibility, making their career fit with their other commitments.
“The programme is for people who are looking to get back into work but want a supportive transition with flexibility – for example working three days a week,” says Gemma Lynchehaun, ER/IR Advisor for UK Diversity & Inclusion at Shell. “We want to tap into areas that we haven’t actively pursued and our aim is to ensure our workforce reflects society.”
The programme is open to those who have had career breaks of 12 months or longer, whether that’s because of childcare, other caring responsibilities or personal circumstances. Shell works hand in hand with recruitment consultancy Inclusivity, which conducts initial interviews and provides support throughout, including 1:1 coaching for Returners.
“The group of Returners in our pilot were concerned about how the workplace had changed and how they could readjust and still manage their other commitments,” says Gemma. “As well as coaching and line manager support, each Returner has a mentor and a buddy in their team.”
- IT - Project Management;
- Exploration – Geoscientist;
- Upstream – Competence Management,
- Engineering; Contracting & Procurement; and
- Shipping & Maritime.
The positions are hands on, with real tasks and responsibilities and a focus on delivery during the six-month period. Several of the roles are in parts of the business where there had historically been a gender imbalance.
At the start of the year Shell renewed its commitment to flexible working in the UK, sharing real examples of employees working part-time, non-standard hours or taking a sabbatical. The Returners can discuss flexible work options with their managers – whether this is part-time work or non-standard hours, to ensure each Returner can manage commitments outside of work.
Access to employee networks, in areas such as Parenting, LGBT and Gender, is also offered, as well as ‘Lunch to Learn’ sessions with senior figures at Shell, and other networking opportunities.
Importantly, being on the programme means that going back into the workplace isn’t something Returners have to do alone: they can lean on their fellow Returners as a source of understanding and support. There is also the opportunity to access Shell’s Open University online learning programme of courses – putting candidates in an excellent position to further their careers at the end of the six months.
Treasury Manager Jutta Swaeb took part in the pilot programme and says the experience has been “absolutely life-changing”.
“I took a five-year career break to care for my children and frankly thought I would never be able to re-enter my profession at a decent level despite having studied during this time to improve my professional qualifications,” she says.
“The Return to Work programme allowed me to restart my career in a very supportive manner, which allowed me to gradually build up my confidence (with the help of some amazing coaching) whilst at the same time working on an interesting project and earning a proper salary. I have now completed my six-month Returnship and I am fortunate enough that doors have opened, and I am still here and thriving.
“Apart from the nice working environment, supportive colleagues, collaborative ethos etc. what really helped me was Shell’s flexible approach to working. This has allowed me to do school drop offs/pickups when needed and has ensured I can deliver what is required from me at work and home and quite frankly remain sane!”
Returners are engaged as contractors and while there is no guarantee of a permanent role at the end, those on the programme can discuss information on suitable Shell vacancies through their business sponsor or supervisor.
“The pilot programme was very successful,” says Gemma. “Shell is open to different individual circumstances and needs, whether that’s childcare, caring or other personal circumstances that require you to work flexibly. We want to access a wider pool of talent and support individuals wanting to return to the professional workplace.”
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