Barclays is asking staff: who’s your best friend?

Barclays wants to encourage staff to be friends with each other in a bid to improve company culture, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

The paper reports that the bank will ask the question: “Do you have any friends?” at the top of a staff survey that will be distributed in the next few weeks. Staff will be asked to name their best friend within the new organisation in a bid to encourage friendship within the bank.

The unsourced story says this is meant to encourage loyalty among staff and create a better culture. The Sunday Times writes: “The focus on friendship is the brainchild of Jes Staley, 59, the new boss of Barclays, who is on a mission to make banking a “respected profession” again.”

Staley joined Barclays as CEO in October, leaving US-based BlueMountain Capital where he was a hedge fund manager. Two years before that he was the CEO of JPMorgan’s investment banking and asset-management unit.

In a memo sent to staff after disappointing 2015 results that was obtained by Business Insider, Staley wrote:

I joined banking back in 1979, because I was excited to be a part of a respected profession. It was a profession because it was moored to a commitment for integrity. A company that retains the loyalty of its employees solely because of compensation is a company that gambles with its institutional culture. Barclays cannot succeed or prosper unless the societies and communities in which we live and work also succeed and prosper. I want Barclays to be a bank where our employees choose to work because they believe in the institution, its values, its passion for diversity and inclusion, and its intrinsically valuable role in society.

Barclays made a net loss of £394 million for 2015, with legal costs and fines of more than £4.3 billion.

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