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Role redesign for employees

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If you need to change the way you do your role, flexible working can be the solution. We start by considering the when, where, how and who work of the work, seeking solutions that maintain or improve service delivery for the people of NSW.

In some cases, this solution is relatively easy to find, but in other cases, a more intentional process of re-thinking, or redesigning the role might be needed. For example, if someone needs to reduce their hours, or do the work differently.

We’ve developed this to guide you through the steps you need to take if you and your manager find you need to redesign your role. You might find this guide useful if the flexibility you’re seeking:

  • is ongoing
  • requires redesign - use Tip sheet 2 to check if this is the case.
    • If it turns out that role design will not be necessary, you can use our Employee Conversation Guide to negotiate the flexibility you do need.

Whatever your reason for needing flexibility in your role’s design, the process remains basically the same. It could be because of caring responsibilities, preparing to retire, study or career transition commitments, or health reasons or a disability. This guide provides a process to support you regardless of the context.

If you think you and your manager need more support to work through the guide, please contact your HR representative and you can always include your job support contact if you have one.

This guide focuses on your actions as an employee

While you and your manager both have an active role to play, your role is to:

  • identify and communicate your needs and the flexibility that you are after
  • help identify different ways to plan and arrange your work to meet the team’s needs and your individual needs
  • participate in any team discussions about flexibility, work priorities and resourcing options
  • co-design solutions with your leader that work for your individual circumstances and team/business outcomes
  • collaborate with others to identify and address any customer/client implications.

The focus is on trying to find ways to make it work, without sacrificing career opportunities, or unrealistic workloads for you or colleagues. Use as many or as few of these resources as make sense for you and your manager.

For your manager, we’ve also developed a matching guide, which defines their role as to:

  • help their team members understand the work implications of changing how and when their role is performed at both a team and individual level
  • challenge themselves to identify different ways to arrange work within their team and discover new ways of working
  • work with you and the team to find a solution that works for individual circumstances and business/team outcomes
  • work with the team to identify and address any customer/client implications.

The following process map demonstrates how this works and the resources we’ve provided to match:

The role design process

Employee Role Design process map
This is a process map for the resources available in this guide. The process is divided into four phases. Discover: Understand the need for role design This phase includes tip sheet 1, 2 and 3. Delve: Explore the role and its business outcomes This phase includes tip sheet 4. Design: Redesign your role and set you up for success This phase includes the decision making tool and tip sheet 5. Deliver: Getting started and checking progress This phase includes tip sheet 6 and 7.

If you are a people leader and the redesign is for a team member’s role, please refer to the Manager Role Redesign Guide.

  • When we say flexible working, we mean re-thinking the way we plan and arrange work – when it takes place, where it takes place and how we arrange it. Prior to submitting a request for a flexible working arrangement or talking to your manager, it is worth doing a little research. At the NSW Public Service Commission, we’ve developed an extensive set of flexibility resources, available on our Flexible Working website. The following quick links give you a 101 in all things flexible working.

    Quick links

    • What types of flexible working are there?
      Not all of these options may be relevant or possible in your agency/role but it will give you some food for thought.
    • Typical misgivings about flexible working
      This can help identify the dilemmas or challenges that others may have with flexible working, and ways to address them if you find these misgivings are being expressed towards your plans.
    • Employee Conversation Guide (which includes some great case studies)
      This helps you to have a general flexibility conversation with your manager.
    • Job share (if this is your preferred type of flexibility)
      We’ve got guides on what it is and how to do it, and a tool for setting up a successful handover and plan to make it work.

    A few quick tips

    • Same same but different: Your agency is likely to have a page on its intranet that provides your policy and the types of flexibility you might be able to use, plus any additional requirements for specific arrangements. It is a good idea to find this and take a look before you go any further.
    • Talk to others: If this is your first time wanting to learn about or try flexible working, talk to others who have made it work. Ask them about any changes they made to their role, the process they followed, and the pros and cons of their arrangement.
    • Other workplace adjustments: Flexible working and role redesign is just one form of workplace adjustment for employees with disability. Other examples of workplace adjustments can include assistive technology, working in a hub or other agency office closer to home to minimise travel, or specific adjustments to your workspace (e.g. desk/chair). Explore these with your manager and/or HR business partner if these will help further.
    • Resource up: Tell your manager about the Manager Role Redesign Guide, which guides them through the role redesign process from their perspective. They can also access support and advice from their HR representative.
  • Some types of flexibility are more likely to require a re-think of the tasks in your role than others.  This cheat sheet gives a quick indication of how likely it is that your role may need an adjustment based on the type of flexibility you are requesting. If no adjustment is needed, you can use the Employee Conversation Guide to discuss flexibility in your role as it is.

    When

    Type of flexibility

    Description

    Redesign need

    Why?

    Bid rostering

    Lines of work/shifts are generated and then bid for by team members.

    Very unlikely

    See note on rostered environment

    Flex time and banked time

    Working extra hours where required over several days or weeks and then reclaiming those hours as time off.

    Very unlikely

    Employees typically manage flex time around their workload.

    Flexible rostering

    Employees submit requests for the shifts they would like to work and the days they want to be rostered off. The roster is then built taking these requests into consideration.

    Very unlikely

    See note on rostered environment

    Flexible working hours / Flexible scheduling

    An alternative to the traditional 9 to 5, 35/38-hour work week. It allows employees to vary their arrival and/or departure times.

    Unlikely

    Hours are typically altered in a way that maintains outcomes.  In some cases, components of the role may need redesign.

    Shift swapping

    Allow shift workers to trade shifts with each other, enabling flexibility to meet both work and personal needs, without sacrificing one or another.

    Very unlikely

    See note on rostered environment

    Where

    Type of flexibility

    Description

    Redesign need

    Why?

    Remote working

    Working at a location other than the official place of work such as mobile working, distributed work, virtual teams and telework.

    Possible

    In cases where the work easily lends itself to remote working, redesign is not required. However, in some cases elements of the role cannot be performed remotely and role design can be used to find alternate solutions.

    Working from a different location

    An employee may work from an office closer to home or closer to meetings they need to attend.

    Unlikely

    Working from home

    Working from home some (or all) days of the week

    Possible

    How

    Type of flexibility

    Description

    Redesign need

    Why?

    Compressed working week / Compressed hours

    An employee may work the same number of weekly working hours, compressed into a shorter period of time.

    Unlikely

    Usually the entirety of the role is compressed meaning role redesign is not required. However, coverage of phones or emails might be needed for non-work days and this could require swapping some tasks with another colleague to even out the load.

    Job share

    A full-time role is undertaken by two or more employees who are paid on a part time basis for the hours they work.

    Likely

    Sometimes a simple splitting of easily separated tasks will suffice but elements will usually require redesign.

    Part-time work

    A regular work pattern where you work fewer than full time hours. Note the days worked can be varied by mutual agreement.

    Very likely

    A reduction of hours means a reduction is tasks so role redesign is always required.

    Split shifts

    A type of shift-work schedule where a person’s work day is split into two or more parts separated by more than the normal periods of time off.

    Very unlikely

    See note on rostered environment

    Task redesign

    An employee may have barriers to completing tasks in the way that the role or the tasks are currently designed due to an ongoing health condition or disability.

    Very likely

    Role design is required to reshape activities to enable the employee to perform the role in a way that delivers outcomes and meets their individual needs.

    Rostered environments have a different form of flexibility:

    Environments that use rosters to schedule when team members work usually have a number of roles of the same type. When multiple team members are performing the same job, there is an opportunity to improve workplace flexibility through increasing and decreasing the number of shifts each person works or considering different shift patterns. This usually does not require any role design.

    Some roles need certain tasks done on certain days

    Some roles require certain tasks to be performed on certain days, at certain times. In these situations, it can be simpler to replace team members on the days that they aren't available to work with someone else with the right capability and knowledge to perform the job. Using a traditional job split/share arrangement can be an easier solution rather than fully redesigning the role.

    This list is not exhaustive

    The NSW Government Sector has a huge diversity of roles and workplace environments, and what might be possible in one context is not possible in another, even when the role is similar. While the information above is based on information we’ve received from the sector, it could be different for you. If you’re not sure, ask your manager or HR representative to discuss it with you.

  • If you need to change your hours or tasks in a way that needs a role re-think, it is important to think through the potential change from both a personal and team perspective. This tip sheet will get you thinking about the flexibility that you need and the changes that may be required, prior to the first discussion with your manager.

    Top tips

    • Consider the pros and cons: Like any planned change, it usually comes with some great benefits and a few downsides.  For example, when reducing your hours, this naturally comes with a reduction in take home pay and may have superannuation considerations, depending on your fund type. Please seek independent advice if this is the case. From time to time, despite everyone’s best intentions, you will miss out on things when they fall on your non-workday. It is important to go in with your eyes open.
    • Plan B: After you have identified your preferred type of flexibility and the specifics of your request, think about what else might work and which elements you may be open to negotiate. Hopefully, compromise will not be needed but it's worth giving it some forethought. For example, it may be that you want to reduce to three days and work Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. You already have childcare secured for Mondays and Tuesdays but can negotiate the third workday because the grandparent helping out can move their days around.
    • Outcome focus: Spend time thinking about how your increased flexibility could affect team members, clients and stakeholders. By identifying the main challenges and barriers, you can start to identify possible strategies to overcome these or manage expectations. Showing your manager that you have thought through potential issues and have solutions in mind makes for a very constructive conversation.
    • Be creative: The types of flexibility and ways to achieve it are limitless. As long as you ground your solutions in what is best for business and team outcomes and your personal needs, there is no such thing as a silly suggestion. You often are best placed to know what will work in your role. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and challenge the status quo.
    • Time horizons: Think about your flexibility needs in the context of your development needs and career ambitions. Working flexibly should not compromise your ability to grow and step into other roles. Consider how long you plan to work flexibly as you may be asked this question, and your response should reinforce that flexibility and career ambition are not mutually exclusive. In your next career conversation, talk to your leader about the roles that align with your aspirations, the critical experiences and knowledge that are needed and how you will carve out time for your development.
  • The role design Decision Making Tool is key to the role design process. In Step 1 and Step 2 of the Decision Making Tool, you and your leader will work through a simple role analysis process. The purpose of this guide is to support you and your leader as you analyse your role. In Step 3 you move into activity reallocation.

    If you think you and your manager need more support to complete the Tool, please contact your HR representative, and you can always include your job support contact if you have one.

    Tips for using the Decision Making Tool

    • Activity or portfolio: In Step 1: Understand your Role you’ll notice that you are able to break down the role either by activity or portfolio. For most roles, it is more helpful to break the role down by activity, which is by group of tasks. This is particularly important if you are redesigning the role for disability or a health condition, where some tasks may no longer be straightforward and need re-thinking. Some roles may lend themselves to being analysed based on portfolio components; for example, if you’re planning to reduce your hours as a HR Business partner who supports different customer groups, or you’re a Regional Manager who looks after community agencies across a number of territories. It may be that you try the two different approaches or a combination. This is an important discussion point.
    • Be specific about your activities: When you list your activities on the tab Step 1: Understand your Role, try to be as specific as possible. Listing things such as “Attend meetings” or “Send emails” are difficult to redesign. Instead the activities might be things such as “Attend Project XYZ meetings to report on Y perspective” or “Provide advice to project stakeholders on Z progress” or “Respond to queries in the project inbox within 24 hours”.
    • Task modification: If you indicated that you do not have a disability or health condition that affects how you perform your role on Step 1: Understand your Role, Column F and Column G on Step 2: Analyse your Role will be prepopulated with N/A and you’ll start your analysis from column H.
    • Low importance: You will notice that Step 2 suggests that activities that you have assessed as being of ‘low importance’ to service delivery or strategic outcomes appear with a ‘Stop’ recommendation. Role design is a great opportunity to drive efficiencies, but it is important that you and your manager carefully think through all possible implications of stopping these activities to avoid any unintended consequences. And as with all role adjustment outcomes, any change needs to be shared with the rest of the team.
    • Consider complexity: Step 2: Analyse your Role asks you to think about the complexity of each task. The purpose is to identify any tasks that much less complex and could be relatively easily reallocated to another employee. You may also find that, regardless of the redesign process, the activities are better suited to another role. Think about the amount of experience or skill the task needs.
    • Recommended outcomes: The recommended outcomes and actions on Step 2: Analyse your Role are just that… recommendations. These recommendations can be overwritten and the percentage of time allocation to each task adjusted in the Step 3. Identify reduction opportunities. All activities will be fed through to Step 3. Identify reduction opportunities except for those flagged as ‘Stop’.
    • Frame the key decisions: Role design is not an exact science - the tool will not spit out the “perfect role”, just help you and your manager to analyse it and suggest changes to your tasks. The key is the conversation between you and your manager and the ideas the rest of the team can contribute.

    Request ‘Decision Making Tool’

    Complete the form on the following page to request the Decision Making Tool

    Read more

  • You are much more likely to achieve an effective and sustainable outcome when you and your manager work together to analyse the role and identify possible solutions. This collaborative effort is called ‘co-design’. You could each have an attempt at the tool and compare notes or complete it together. In any case, at some point you will get together to review the tool’s outputs.

    Tips for that conversation

    • Be open minded: Bring an open mind along with the tool outputs when you meet with your manager, as you may have different (and equally good) ideas. Ask questions that help you better understand their point of view. What are your concerns? What do you think the benefits of this will be? What is your thinking behind a given rating? Ask them how much time would you have expected me to spend on this? If there are sticking points, suggest taking some time for individual thought and picking it up again on the following day.
    • Be flexible to be flexible: Successful flexible working arrangements usually require a level of flexibility from both the leader and the team member. Remember that the outcome needs to work for you, the team and the business and service outcomes that the team delivers. There may be elements that you need to compromise on and there may be some compromises that your manager is willing to make.
    • Think long term: The role design Decision Making Tool asks you to consider the ‘Human Element’. This is where you can flag the activities you want to keep because they will help your skills base or next career move. Now is a good time to talk to your manager about your career aspirations and the experiences that you want to gain in this role. There may be some areas of compromise, but it is important that the role remains challenging, rewarding, uses the experience you have and helps work towards your development goals.
    • Think beyond the team: When you are considering what is possible for reallocating or swapping tasks, challenge yourself and your manager to look for resourcing solutions both within the team and beyond the team. In the case of a reduction of hours, it may be that with the saved FTE, your manager can recruit an additional resource to take on the activity removed from the role. It could also be possible that reallocating the activity to an employee in a different team brings an overall efficiency win.
    • Ways of working: During the role design process, you may start to discuss and agree some ’rules of the road’ you’ll need to make it a success, so make sure you capture these. For example, you might agree some principles on how you’ll communicate if urgent things come up, or how much flexibility you have to swap days around, with some planning. For more information on ways of working, refer to the Employees Conversation Guide.
    • Check in with HR: Before you and your manager implement a new arrangement, ensure you’ve run it past HR for a sense check (if your manager hasn’t involved them along the way already) and ensure that all of your payroll or other related forms have been completed. Give yourself some lead time to make this happen, as payroll errors especially can be surprisingly tricky to fix. It’s also important to make sure your current performance plan is adjusted to reflect any new or adjusted KPIs.
  • Before you start your new flexible work arrangement, take the time to have a detailed and honest conversation about your expectations and ways of working with your manager. Make sure you’re both clear on the finer details, support mechanisms and the process you’ll use for review.

    Tips

    • Identify your success measures: How will you and your manager know if the redesigned role is working? Identify the key success measures (e.g. outcomes, stakeholder feedback, team feedback). Make sure that you and your manager are clear on the shared expectations and how and when you will review it. Importantly, check that any new KPIs or formal performance measures agreed can be measured easily and effectively.
    • Ways of working: The logistics of your arrangement would have been documented (e.g. type of flex, days, hour, adjusted activities, if there is a trial period, etc.) but it is important to talk about how it will play out on a week-to-week and day-to-day basis. For example, if you have reduced your days of work, in what scenarios would it be OK for a colleague to contact you on an ‘off day’? And how? How would you prefer to catch up on developments while you were out of the office? If your role has been adjusted due to a health condition or disability, how would you prefer to connect with colleagues day to day?
    • Flag concerns: This is the time to flag anything that you are not quite sure of, and/or agree to monitor and adjust it as you go. Talk to your manager about any reactions from the team and your stakeholders since the arrangement was communicated and share any of their concerns. It is important that your manager knows about these so they can clear any misunderstanding or concern, and so you feel supported.
    • Support needed: Ahead of the meeting, think of what you need from your manager. For example, you may ask them to review the timing or structure of the team meeting so that it better suits your work schedule. You may also like to ask for weekly feedback on how the redesign is working for the first few weeks.
    • Planning your work: A redesigned role might mean that you will need to work in a different way.  Whether you have changed tasks or hours, you may need to plan your time and task priorities more than you have in the past or put more effort into relationship building on the days you’re in the office.
  • Make sure you and your manager check how your arrangement is going with each other, the team and your stakeholders/clients. This check in could be informal (e.g. a discussion as a part of your regular 1:1 meetings) or as part of a more formal review (e.g. using a pre-existing discipline like a twice-yearly performance discussion). When preparing for your check-ins, reflect on your experience to date and anything that has surprised or disappointed you, identify the positives and the opportunities for improvement. This tip sheet will help you to evaluate, learn and adjust the design of your role.

    Top tips

    • Pause and reflect: Reflect on how the redesigned role is working for you. Take factors such as your physical and mental wellbeing, an assessment of your own performance and outcomes, your commitments outside of work, your development and your job satisfaction into consideration. Keeping notes in a journal along the way can help.
    • Seek feedback: What impact has the role changes had on your stakeholders and service outcomes? Think about it from their perspective, as well as the team and your manager. Talk openly with others and ask for their feedback.
    • Improve and adjust: If there are elements that are not working well, consider any fine tuning. If it is not working as you had expected, explore whether the root cause is the team’s ways of working, the team rhythm, the design of the role or something that you personally might be able to do differently. Often it is a blend of a few factors. Be creative and talk to your manager about your ideas.
    • Decision Making Tool: Dig out the Decision Making Tool that you used to redesign your role.  Compare the reality of where you are spending your time with what you had designed and anticipated. Bring this data to the meeting with your manager and talk through any discrepancies, identifying any further changes that are needed.
    • Be honest: There is a tendency for employees who work flexibly or have had roles adjusted for them to feel “lucky” and be cautious about flagging any problems with the arrangement. If you find yourself working on your non-workdays or find yourself unable to perform elements of the role, it is important that you raise this with your manager.
    • Be a champion: Find ways to share your role design experience with others who may be interested in working flexibly or have other reasons to redesign their role. Talk to peers and leaders about the role design process and point them in the direction of the available resources.