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Published: 27 May 2021

Nationwide Building Society – Winner 2021, Best Family Network

Nationwide’s Working Families Network supports parents, grandparents, other family members and people wanting to start a family. The network provides resources like home schooling materials, access and influence over organisational policies supporting a work-life balance, and professional coaching.

Bringing staff together to share real-life experiences and practical tips means nobody feels alone and unsupported. Members benefit from a variety of virtual drop-in sessions including general parenting, expectant parents, and new parent groups.

The organisation has introduced ‘Angel Kisses and Rainbow Wishes’, a baby loss and fertility group which also provides one-to-one support. This group has opened up conversations and provided vital care around a topic which can feel taboo, especially in the workplace.

Network members stay in contact through their Yammer community. People share educational resources, HR policies and guidance and personal stories.

A professional coach provides monthly group sessions on boosting resilience and wellbeing. Topics have included navigating home schooling and surviving the summer holidays.

The network’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions give people the chance to hear real-life experiences and to ask any questions they have. All levels of the organisation get involved, with the Chairman recently hosting a session on being a working dad of six.

The group is influential throughout the company. They helped increase fully paid emergency dependants leave from two days a year to four weeks for those parents with no school or childcare available during the pandemic. A presentation to the Leadership Team resulted in paid paternity leave increasing from two to six weeks and maternity leave being extended to 26 weeks. Maternity leave for mothers of premature babies has also been increased thanks to the group’s lobbying.

Membership of the Working Families Network has increased by 200% in the last year as the pressures of maintaining a work-life balance have heightened during the pandemic. A 700% increase in online community posts by network members and 2000% more people reading them show the appreciation staff have for the support. One initiative saw almost 3,000 staff members’ children get a ‘Little Stars’ certificate signed by the CEO recognising them for getting through lockdown.

Future plans include reviewing whether paid paternity leave could be extended further, an increased focus on equipping middle management to support their teams, reviewing the return-to-work process after maternity leave and continued attention on achieving gender equality.

Find out what the judges had to say about Nationwide Building Society – Winner of the Best Family Network Award 2021.