Now in their ninth year, the awards showcase and celebrate employers that are offering flexibility for all their people and going the extra mile in their support for parents and carers.
Employers from a diverse range of sectors from across the UK competed to catch the judges’ attention in 13 categories, with a record-breaking number of entries received.
This year's judging panel featured Jenny Roper, editor of media partner for the awards HR magazine; Deirdre Anderson, head of department for people and organisations at Lincoln International Business School, and a director of the Eleanor Glanville Centre; global head of diversity and inclusion at UBS Carolanne Minashi; and Lorraine De Souza, professor of rehabilitation and pro vice-chancellor for equality, diversity and staff development at Brunel University London.
For the first time this year Working Families presented a Best Returner Programme Award, sponsored by the Government Equalities Office.
“The common thread running through this year’s collection of best practice is that employers are really working to establish family-friendly workplace cultures, which our research shows is key to unlocking parents’ potential," said Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families.
"Whether it’s getting female returners back, or getting more men to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL), employer activity is as much about the culture within the organisation as it is about the policy itself.”
Here are the winners in full:
My Family Care Best for Mothers
Royal Air Force
The RAF has an impressive retention rate for mothers that reflects the support it offers and proves any organisation can embrace family-friendly and flexible ways of working.
UBS Best for fathers
Westfield offers fathers many forms of support to help them find the right balance between work and family life, including enhanced paternity leave, SPL, workshops for fathers and a family buddy system.
Carers UK Best for carers and eldercare
Centrica has been supporting employees who have caring responsibilities since it founded its Carers Network in 2005. The network now has 1,000 members and Centrica offers paid care leave to help staff manage their caring responsibilities and reduce stress in the workplace.
Cityparents Best family network
Barclays (Commended: Santander)
More than 3,200 employees are members of Barclays’ Working Families Network, which hosts a multitude of support sessions and fun events throughout the year. The network covers mass appeal topics and niche areas; parents are able to utilise their workplace and colleagues to support family life.
Cityparents Best innovation
Lewis Silkin (Commended: Barclays)
A new fixed-fee HR and employment law support service from top-ranked law firm Lewis Silkin has allowed experienced lawyers looking for a better work/life balance to work from home with part-time hours of their choice. It’s also creating new business opportunities for the firm.
Best for flexible recruitment
Government Equalities Office Best returner programme
Lloyds Banking Group
Lloyds Banking Group launched a dedicated Returners Programme in 2014 to help bring on board highly-skilled and experienced applicants who had taken time out of their careers. The programme attracts hundreds of candidates a year and almost all successful returners go on to permanent positions within the bank.
Best for embedded flexibility
Dynamic Working is Barclays’ ongoing programme to get the best from employees and teams. From recruitment adverts and onboarding processes, to a rolling programme of line manager training and continuous communication about the success of dynamic working for colleagues across the business, it is driving measurable change in how employees work.
Best flexible working initiative
Ministry of Justice (Commended: Yorkshire Building Society)
The Ministry of Justice launched its Smarter Working programme to help create a culture that is truly flexible, where people can fully commit to life both inside and outside of work. Employees have been given the support and technology that enables them to work from their core office, their home or one of many commuter hubs. The focus is on what work is done rather than where work is done.
Best for line manager support
Westfield ensures line managers understand and support flexible working in their teams by offering a range of training programmes and one-to-one support with HR.
Best large private sector employer
Lloyds Banking Group
Lloyds Banking Group has integrated family-friendly working throughout its business. From being upfront about flexibility in job adverts and offering enhanced maternity and SPL, to facilitating an enormous employee support network and running a successful programme for people returning to work after a career break, its family-friendly policies permeate everything it does.
Best small employer
Independent Living Fund Scotland (joint winner)
Life-friendly working is the mantra for the Independent Living Fund Scotland. Generous maternity and paternity packages, flexible working for all, and ‘nothing off the table’ when it comes to discussion of work/life balance make the public body a truly family-friendly workplace.
Pursuit Marketing (joint winner)
Pursuit Marketing offers a four-day week as standard, term-time-only roles and a scheme to automatically approve small changes to employee schedules. It’s a hit with staff and delivers robust business benefits too.
Best public-sector employer
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (joint winner)
Highlands and Islands Enterprise promotes economic growth across the region and offers a range of flexible working options to all staff, including those approaching retirement.
Royal Air Force (joint winner)
Retaining talented personnel is key for the Royal Air Force. The organisation is constantly looking at new and innovative ways of being an employer of choice.