Barclays easing up workload on junior bankers

Barclays moved to limit overworking its junior bankers in the U.S. Friday, echoing recent initiatives by Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and others to stem a sometimes brutal work culture for post-college analyst programs.

"The demands of the job are high, but our best work is when we work intelligently as a team; not just because we work the hardest or the longest," Barclays said in an internal memo announcing new guidelines for junior bankers.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The guidelines include:

--Mandatory block leave for two non-consecutive weeks over a year.

--Mandatory days off of at least 12 a quarter in addition to vacation and including weekends; no more than 12 consecutive days in the office.

--No new projects assigned after noon Friday; exceptions require group head approval.

Other guidelines included more mentoring and better allocation of staff time.

(Read more: Wall Street fights to keep young, restless analysts)

Big banks fight to keep young analyst
Big banks fight to keep young analyst

"These new guidelines provide a common framework to unify the division and help us address the industry-wide questions and concerns raised around the practicalities of investment banking," the memo said.

The letter was signed by John Miller, head of Americas investment banking; Joe McGrath, co-head of global finance and risk solutions; and Paul Parker, chairman and head of global mergers and acquisitions.

"It seems like management has their heart in the right place, but time will tell how these new measures impact the quality of life for junior bankers," said a current Barclays employee familiar with the investment banking program.

"There is an entrepreneurial element to being a successful analyst or associate, so no level of structured 'protection' will keep everyone out of the office; investment banking continues to be a competitive industry despite the recent image challenges," the person added. "The challenge around these lifestyle initiatives for all banks going forward is how to make them an accepted part of the culture. Paradigm shift? We'll see."

A Barclays spokesman declined to comment.

—By CNBC's Lawrence Delevingne. Follow him on Twitter @ldelevingne.