24 Communities and 129 Companies Can’t Be Wrong—"When Work Works"

In the last month, I’ve blogged twice about how a difficult business environment can halt all innovation related to workplace flexibility.  Today’s release of the annual When Work Works report entitled "2008 Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work," compiled by Families and Work Institute (my alma mater!) in conjunction with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce and the Twiga Foundation, is further proof that plenty of organizations and communities are reaping the rewards of flexibility.

As Ellen Galinsky, President of Families and Work Institute, notes in the introduction to the report, "I was asked on a radio interview recently if tough times call for tough solutions—employers can afford to provide good workplaces during good times, but what about during time of volatility and change? …The answer to these questions is a clear no if the employers whose stories fill these of this Guide are any indication.  In fact, I see just the opposite: necessity drives innovation." 

The objective of the When Work Works initiative is to "share research on what makes work "work" in the 21st Century…to highlight the importance of workplace effectiveness and workplace flexibility as strategies to enhance businesses’ competitive advantage in the global economy and to help both employers and employees succeed." 

In this year’s report, 129 companies from 24 communities from across the country share their stories of success and innovation.  This includes small companies, big companies, service organizations, and manufacturers.  All types of companies and all different approaches to work+life and flexibility. 

The selection process is rigorous and involves two rounds of surveys.  The first survey is completed by the employer.  If chosen to move into Round 2, then the company’s employees are asked to fill out a survey that must have a 40% response rate to be considered.  The ultimate selection for the award is heavily weighted on employee responses.  So this year’s 129 winning companies were put there by the people who work for them, and represent the top 20% of employers from the communities that participated! 

Here are some key insights from this year’s report: 

• Employees are having input into decision making and managers are listening,
• Employees are having many opportunities to be challenged, to learn, and to upgrade their skills,
• The career ladder is being replaced with flex-careers,
• Technology is being used creatively—not to cause overwork, but to provide flexibility,
• Flexibility is enabling employees to have time with the important people in their lives,
• Employees have opportunities to contribute to their communities, and
• Employees are encouraged to take good care of themselves.

What do you think?  Are you surprised by the level of success and innovation?  How might the When Work Works study inspire other organizations to continue moving forward? 

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