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When Work Works

    When Work Works is a nationwide initiative which brings research on workplace effectiveness and flexibility into community and business practice. It is a project of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

    Since its inception in 2003, When Work Works has partnered with an ever-expanding cohort of communities from around the country to:

    • share rigorous research and employer best practices on workplace effectiveness and flexibility;
    • inspire local employers to create more flexible and effective workplaces to benefit both business and employees; and
    • recognize exemplary employers through the When Work Works Award and local community events.

    For more information about When Work Works, please follow this link.


    When Work Works was founded by Families and Work Institute in 2003 in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce and the Twiga Foundation, with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In 2011, Families and Work Institute and The Society for Human Resource Management announced a ground-breaking partnership designed to help organizations be more successful by transforming the way businesses view and adopt flexible workplace practices. The partnership’s mission is to share the research on how effective and flexible workplaces can benefit employers and employees, to share best practices and to help employers develop workplace cultures that fully embrace and implement strategies that will “move work forward.”

    In 2016, When Work Works and the National Study of Employers as well as Families and Work Institute’s National Study of the Changing Workforce became projects of the Society for Human Resource Management.


    The When Work Works initiative is grounded in the results of nationally representative studies of employees and employers, which have found that flexibility is a key ingredient in creating effective workplaces that can yield important work-related outcomes for employers. In fact, employees in effective and flexible workplaces report:

    • greater engagement on the job;
    • greater job satisfaction;
    • greater desire to stay with the organization;
    • better overall health; and
    • lower stress levels.

    Employer Practices

    Promising practices and innovative ideas for creating effective and flexible workplaces are culled from winners of the When Work Works Award.

    In combination with research findings, these practices have been highlighted at hundreds of business conferences and workshops as well as in over 2,000 national and local media stories since the project launch to inform business and community leaders, policy makers and the general public about the importance of workplace effectiveness and flexibility.

    Recognition and Education

    The When Work Works Award recognizes employers of all types and sizes that are using workplace flexibility as a tool to enhance business and employee success. The Award is offered to employers within the When Work Works partner communities as well as to those outside of these locations as “at-large” applicants.

    The Award is unique for its rigorous criteria. To win, applicants must rank among the top 25% of U.S. employers in terms of their programs and practices for creating effective and flexible workplaces, based on nationally representative data from SHRM. What is more, two thirds of the overall score is derived from a confidential employee survey, ensuring that these programs and practices are having a real impact where the “rubber meets the road” on the employee experience.

    All applicants receive a personalized benchmarking report comparing their effective and flexible workplace practices to a nationally representative sample of U.S. employers.