Home News & eventsNews Working Families’ best practice awards 2018 shows spirit of creativity and innovation alive and well

Working Families’ best practice awards 2018 shows spirit of creativity and innovation alive and well

Published: 20 Jun 2018

  • This year’s awards saw a record number of entries, showing the appetite and engagement surrounding flexibility and work life balance 
  • There were a record number of categories, including a new category for returner programmes and family networks
  • Winners are all working towards establishing supportive workplace cultures as well as family friendly policies  

Sarah Jackson OBE, Chief Executive of Working Families, said:

With a record number of entries and categories, the message from this year’s awards is loud and clear – the UK’s employers’ spirit of creativity and innovation in the work life balance space is alive and well.

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 [1].  Whether it’s getting women returners back, or getting more men to take Shared Parental Leave, employer activity is as much about the culture within the organisation as it is about the policy itself.

For the first time this year, Working Families are presenting a Best Returner Programme Award, sponsored by the Government Equalities Office.  Returner Programmes offer a supported bridge back to work for those who have had time out of paid work, usually for caring responsibilities, increasing the diversity of an organisation and helping close the gender pay gap.  

Now in their 9th year, Working Families best practice awards have 13 categories across a range of work life policies and practices.   


My Family Care Best for mothers 

  • WINNER – 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 

  • WINNER – Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield offers fathers many forms of support to help them find the right balance between work and family life including enhanced paternity leave, Shared Parental Leave, workshops for fathers and a family buddy system. 

Carers UK Best for carers & eldercare 

  • WINNER – Centrica 

Centrica has been supporting employees with 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 caring responsibilities and reduce stress in the workplace. 

Cityparents Best family network 

  • WINNER – Barclays  

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. Covering mass appeal topics and niche areas, parents are able to utilise their work place and colleagues to support family life. 

  • COMMENDED – Santander 

Cityparents Best innovation 

  • WINNER – Lewis Silkin  

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. 

  • COMMENDED – Barclays 

Best for flexible recruitment 

  • COMMENDED – KnownFour 

Government Equalities Office Best returner programme  

  • WINNER – 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  

  • WINNER – Barclays 

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  

  • WINNER – Ministry of Justice 

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) 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. 

  • COMMENDED – Yorkshire Building Society 

Best for line manager support 

  • WINNER – Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield 

Unibail-Rodamco-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 small employer 

  • WINNER – Independent Living Fund Scotland / Pursuit Marketing (joint winners) 

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’ for discussion about work life balance make the public body a truly family friendly workplace. 

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  

  • WINNER – Highlands & Islands Enterprise / Royal Air Force (joint winners) 

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) promotes economic growth across the region and offers a range of flexible working options to all staff, including those approaching retirement, to ensure they perform at their best. 

Retaining talented personnel is key for the Royal Air Force. The organization are constantly looking at new and innovative ways of being an employer of choice.   

Best large private sector employer  

  • WINNER – Lloyds Banking Group 

Lloyds Banking Group has integrated family friendly working throughout its business.  From being up-front about flexibility in job adverts and offering enhanced maternity and Shared Parental Leave to facilitating an enormous employee support network and running a successful programme for people returning to work after a career break, its family friendly polices permeate everything it does. 


[1] 2018 Modern Families Index 2018: how employers can support the UK’s working families

[2] Working Families’ best practice awards 2018  

Organisations were shortlisted in 13 categories in the Working Families’ best practice awards 2018.

[3] Case studies of the award winners

[4] Judging Panel 

The award entries were judged by the following panel:  Sarah Jackson OBE, Chief Executive, Working Families; Deirdre Anderson, Head of Department: People and Organisations in Lincoln International Business School and a Director of the Eleanor Glanville Centre; Lorraine De Souza, Professor of Rehabilitation: Department of Clinical Sciences and Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, and University Ambassador for Equality and Diversity, Brunel University London; Carolanne Minashi, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, UBS; Jenny Roper, Editor, HR magazine; Rebecca Eschoe, Stakeholder Engagement & Awareness Lead, Returners Team, Government Equalities Office.

The judging process for the best practice awards is anonymous – none of the judges knows the identity of the companies they are judging.  

[5] Sponsors 

Carers UK – sponsor of the Best for carers & eldercare award 

Cityparents – sponsor of the Best innovation and best family network awards 

Government Equalities Office – sponsor of the Best returner programme awards 

My Family Care – sponsors of the Best for mothers award 

UBS – sponsor of the Best for fathers award 

[6] About Working Families 

Working Families is the UK’s work life balance charity.  We support and advocate on behalf of working parents and carers, and work with employers to create workplaces which encourage work-life balance for everyone. Twitter @WorkingFamUK 

The Working Families helpline for parents, carers and their advisers gives advice on employment rights and benefits. Call 0300 012 0312 or email advice@workingfamilies.org.uk