Barclays Bank, Finalist 2015, The DTCC Best for Innovation Award

Barclays recognises the importance of enabling colleagues to grow their careers while they grow their families. Feedback from employees after a bespoke event on maternity and paternity was the catalyst for their innovative ‘Stay in Touch’ app that helps those out of the business on maternity or parental leave to feel connected.

At the event, new mums said there were challenges in maintaining line manager contact while on maternity leave. Designated ‘Keep in Touch’ days added value but they wanted more flexible options for staying connected. In response, a ‘Keeping in Touch’ project was set up, with a team of cross-business volunteers, ER/HR/IT partners, business leaders and employee network leads, to collaborate on finding solutions.

One idea stood out to the team: an app that would keep line managers and maternity leavers in contact during the maternity leave period, and also provide access to relevant resources and information. The app is located on ‘My Zone’, a colleague community site which can be accessed from personal smart phones and tablets, thanks to Barclays’ ‘Bring Your Own Device’ software. It offers useful bite-size information in a family-friendly tone, to support both employees and their line managers. The kinds of information on the app include: maternity-relevant policies, forms and guides; the pregnancy journey, including baby-growth guides and pre-/post-birth ‘milestones’; useful websites, partner websites and phone numbers; hints and tips on, for example, when to apply for childcare vouchers; key activities, prompts and reminders for line managers about creating positive maternity leave experiences; and a guide for line managers and employees about return-to-work dates and new working patterns.

Well-planned internal communications were reinforced by word-of-mouth recommendations. All employee diversity networks cascaded information, with Barclays’ working families and gender networks taking a key role. Barclays’ inclusive approach to parenting meant same-sex parents were expressly included in all information and communication. In the first week, the app received more than 150 hits with highly positive feedback. As a personal illustration of the benefits, the story of how Lina (and new daughter Emma) successfully stayed in touch during her maternity leave thanks to the app is now included in the ‘Million Stories’ campaign, which highlights how Barclays’ people ‘make our business great’. Life-size posters in prominent places carry the stories, while more usual channels, such as intranet articles, bring to life how employee innovations, such as the app, change lives.

The next stage of development for the app includes an interactive community site, to enable maternity leavers to connect and communicate collectively, as well as a family finance calculator.