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NOW CLOSED: Vote now for who should win the Mumsnet Family Friendly Innovation Awards - £100 Amazon voucher up for grabs!

(33 Posts)
NewGirlHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 21-Oct-11 12:12:21

The final part of our Family Friendly programme award is to get all you MNers to vote for our Innovation Award.

We asked companies to enter their best Family Friendly ideas and innovations and they have come up trumps with ideas that include ways to make working life easier, products to help families stay safe online and support for families beyond their own workforce. We'd like you to vote for the idea you think is the best of the bunch. Please read on to find out about the policies - and to vote. Everyone who casts a vote will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will get a £100 Amazon voucher.

Some of the companies are household names and need no introduction, whilst others are not quite so widely known. Below is an outline of the policy each company has put forward as being their most innovative family friendly policy. Please click on the link on their name to find out more about their family friendly credentials.

PZ Cussons

PZ Cussons is a major supporter of the Seashell Trust. The Seashell Trust is a charity, based in Manchester offering day and residential support for children who have severe and complex learning disabilities combined with significant communications difficulties, and their families. As well as funding new facilities such as their brand new Sensory room, our fragrance business Seven Scents has been working extensively with the Seashell Trust in some ground breaking research in developing scent as a method of communication for children and young people with severe communication difficulties. The research and findings have achieved some great successes and the techniques are already helping many families to communicate more effectively and give children increased independence and choice, improving quality of life.

Pizza Express

A year ago Pizza Express took one of its restaurants in Richmond and turned it into a 'living lab', a perfect space to try out new ways of doing things, looking at just about every aspect of the restaurant experience from design and service to food and music. Mumsnetters' feedback provided the basis for the new ideas that were trialled in Richmond. These included flexible payment so if mums wish to pay immediately, they can; intelligently engaging kids with a drawing table and reading books; and a customer service training that treat kids like little adults, deliberately not talking down to kids.

Squire Sanders Hammonds - a law firm

We offer a gradual return to work programme allowing mothers to gradually return to their contractual hours over a 2 month period - continuing to receive their full contractual salary. When new parents are faced with making arrangements for childcare, and leaving their loved ones for long periods of time, this transition allows them to get into a routine, get use to balancing work and home, and take some of the pressures away in the early days, giving mothers the time to adapt. We also have a Fertility Treatment Assistance policy - we offer 5 days paid leave for employees having to undergo fertility treatment.

SMV - ad agency

SMV led an industry piece of research for the IPA called the Future of Work. One of the key messages of this piece of research was that there are a number of young parents in the ad industry juggling their lives and their global clients around a fridge on a Sunday night. Having considered this research we then held a session for our women at the IPA and invited Mumsnet to go through the research with us. This session highlighted the need for flexible working, support at work and the whole area of how to be a busy working mum. This led to company meetings held on Wednesday when most part-timers work; a female support network; trialling a flexible working pilot; and in-house parenting classes.

Heathrow airport

To make travelling over the summer less stressful, we did the following:
opened dedicated family lanes in security with stickers and specially trained personnel; provided play areas for kids across all terminals to give children the opportunity to stretch their limbs and expend some energy prior to getting on the plane; hired childrens entertainers and characters such as Mr. Men favourite Little Miss Sunshine on the busiest days in July and August; gave away free activity books and Cadburys jelly sweets to keep little ones occupied and entertained; served up kids eat free deals and speedy service meals for passengers on the go; added more staff at check-in, security and baggage reclaim.


'Pearson for Families' bundle: a number of discounts, offers and initiatives throughout the company that would all be beneficial not only to our staff but to their extended families as well, including: Parent Parking at the Oxford site to ensure parents don't get blocked in; a range of discounts in local shops, on car purchases, and computer equipment; a free minibus into Oxford town centre at lunchtimes; and mobile phone discount for the whole family.

Talk Talk

HomeSafe, the UK's first and only network level parental control service, which is available free for all TalkTalk customers. HomeSafe is unique in providing protection on all devices connected to a home broadband connection - from PCs and laptops to smartphones and games consoles - rather than traditional software solutions which only protect the individual computer they are installed on. HomeSafe allows busy parents to control what their children can see online and has three different features: KidsSafe - content blocking facility, Homework Time - blocking of social network sites and online gaming at specific times, and Virus Alert - blocks webpages infected with malware.


Four initiatives:
1.O2 Working Families Contract: The contract will allow groups of between 2 and 4 working mums and dads to freely decide who will cover which shifts and each group is free to make changes to this at any time, giving them the flexibility to balance their jobs with the school run, holidays or unplanned emergencies.

2.Group Text: Rather than going through your phone and sending a text to everyone individually (and getting a load of individual replies that need to be forwarded on) you can have a special number for each group with all replies coming back to everyone in the group, so you can make your arrangement quickly without going backwards and forwards.

3.BlockIT: a free service that makes it really easy for parents to block messages from any specific number, on any phone. Numbers are blocked at the network level so whatever device you have (and even if you swap sims to another device) the messages are always blocked. Which means that your children are always protected and you can have peace of mind.

4.Business to Business Flexible Working Package: A consultancy service allowing other companies to offer flexible working to their workforce. As well as ensuring people have the best tools for the job, we'll offer HR consultancy and full training to make sure that flexible working is embedded in the culture of the business and that people are easily enabled to work flexibly.

Metro Bank

We've worked hard to make sure that Metro Bank really is Family Friendly and different to any other bank on the high street. Everything about Metro Bank is designed around what makes our customers happy, and this is especially true for parents, their children and their dogs! This is why every store has customer toilets with baby changing facilities, why every store has plenty of space for prams and no steps to navigate and why every store has animated magic money machines, free piggy banks, crayons and colouring in books, lollipops and staff who really want to offer amazing service and convenience. Oh and for the dogs we have dog bowls with fresh water and dog biscuits. Outside the store we also take our Family Friendly approach seriously with our financial education programme, Money Zone working with schools to give your children an understanding of the basic principles of money, saving and banking.

So which of these companies do you feel has offered the most innovative way of promoting family friendliness?

Vote here

Many thanks

LCRLCR Fri 21-Oct-11 14:58:04

Metro Bank

LCRLCR Fri 21-Oct-11 15:19:22

oh sorry, wrong place!

lubeybooby Fri 21-Oct-11 17:00:57

Done smile

PosiesOfPoison Fri 21-Oct-11 17:45:08

Have to say the best customer service by far with dcs is John Lewis Restaurant Bristol. They carry your tray, talk to your dcs, provide great choice for dcs too.

strandednomore Fri 21-Oct-11 18:00:42

It was really hard to chose so well done all of them, it's great to see company's coming up with these ideas. Let's hope more follow suit.

ReaperView Fri 21-Oct-11 18:11:12

It's only as good as the staff tat implement it though isn't it? Some of those ideas are great on paper but if for example my kids are tearing around after the free sweets at heathrow and the play area is covered in filth and the family fast track is none existent then it's not working.

iceandsliceplease Fri 21-Oct-11 18:14:28

Hard to choose, so I plumped for one that will make the most difference to me in my daily life. Great to see that there are so many great new ideas for making places and businesses more family friendly.

jimswifein1964 Fri 21-Oct-11 18:24:10

What does " juggling their lives and their global clients around a fridge on a Sunday night" mean? I assume it means juggling work and home, but I don't get the reference to a Sunday? Not that it's important; was just wondering!

SuePurblybiltFromBitsofCorpses Fri 21-Oct-11 18:47:28

I didn't get it either? Round a kitchen table - maybe. Round a fridge? Eh?

Jux Fri 21-Oct-11 19:02:06

I have no idea. I don't really have anything to do with any of these companies, so I have no way of guaging how their changes work in practise. As Reaperview says, it's only as good as the staff who implement it anyway.

gazzalw Fri 21-Oct-11 19:42:06

Well they are all very different in their approaches so difficult to choose but I have voted!

funmbus Fri 21-Oct-11 20:54:20

Heathrow airport.

KatieMortician Fri 21-Oct-11 21:00:48

I live in Richmond and the Pizza Express there still has lousy service. The staff just don't work well together and they don't get how to look after families. I cannot vote for them.


KatieMortician Fri 21-Oct-11 21:04:19

Of that list only O2 look truly innovative - is there any feedback from services users and staff we can see?

jimswifein1964 Fri 21-Oct-11 21:06:04

Sue, I'm glad it wasnt just me!

missorinoco Sat 22-Oct-11 13:56:20

Hard to chose, just because some of the ideas aren't new doesn't mean they aren't excellent. Very impressed to see a law firm up there.

KatieMortician Sat 22-Oct-11 15:49:12

Well yes, except it's the innovation award we're being asked to vote on.

Fenouille Sat 22-Oct-11 19:59:26

Heathrow airport should be doing some of these things year round, not just for the summer holidays. Loads of airports have fast track for parents and this should be the norm not a special.

gottaspook Sun 23-Oct-11 07:47:30

I agree Fenouille. And I agree about the staff. Just a smile and a friendly word to the children makes a lot of difference, to the parents and the children. You don't need lollipops!

GhoulsGhouls Sun 23-Oct-11 08:43:22

Voted - used my usual nickname rather than my Hallowe'en one, is that right?

Agree with everyone who says well yes but it depends on the staff.

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 23-Oct-11 10:47:21

Hi KatieMortician

very fair point about needing staff feedback and everyone who has said it's the actual experience of staff and customers that counts - this voting stage is the final bit of a long audit process that has included Mumsnet testing with secret shoppers from the ff panel, staff surveys and internal audits where we asked companies to send in their policies and they were assessed by an external policy and research company.
This list is the list of innovations that made it through the audit process. Next year I think we need to think about how we give you more of the background (learning for us for next year!) but for this year, we can't share it because a) there is so much of it and b) companies allowed us in and gave us pretty amazing access partly because it wasn't all going to be made public so they felt able to give us a worts and all look. (or should that be warts? think it should. Apols). We were very robust with them!

So....given all of that, what we're hoping (accepting that you're being asked to vote based on what you see here) is that you will look at the ideas that have been submitted - some of which were developed in response to us saying ('you need to be doing something that is FF!) and decide which of them is innovative (i.e. not the things other folk are already doing ) and which one could really make this country more FF if it was adopted by other companies. Hope that helps? Vicki Mumsnet

KatieMortician Sun 23-Oct-11 17:41:24

Thank you. I've voted now smile

Nyx Sun 23-Oct-11 19:10:44

I've voted now. That was difficult!

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 23-Oct-11 19:29:04

Thankyou smile)

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