gala-logoFamilies and Work Institute is a nonprofit center dedicated to providing research for living in today’s changing workplace, changing family and changing community.

Since the Institute was founded in 1989, our work has tackled issues in three major areas: the workforce/workplace, youth and early childhood.

Families and Work Institute’s research takes on emerging issues before they crest and includes some of the most comprehensive research on the U.S. workforce available.

The Institute’s work has helped change the language of debates to move the discussion forward toward more effective, and data-driven solutions, and to result in action.

In addition, because the Institute conducts some of the only research studies of their kind, our studies are quoted in the media daily and are cited by decision makers in business, government, and the public.


Here’s an overview of our missions, our work, our impact, and the difference we’re making:

Our Mission

Families and Work Institute (FWI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that studies the changing workforce, family and community. As a preeminent think-tank, FWI is known for being ahead of the curve, identifying emerging issues, and then conducting rigorous research that often challenges common wisdom, provides insight and knowledge. As an action-tank, we conduct numerous studies that put our research into action and then evaluate the results.

Our purpose is to create research to work, learn and live by.

Our Work

Families and Work Institute was co-founded in 1989 by Ellen Galinsky, currently President of the Institute, and Dana Friedman. Our work focuses on three major areas: the workforce/workplace, youth and early childhood.

The issues that Families and Work Institute tackles are broad and timely, affecting life on and off the job.

Our current projects focus on:

  • the effective workplace;
  • the impact of the current economy on employers and their policies;
  • workplace and career flexibility;
  • gender and generation in the workforce;
  • the health of the American workforce;
  • life skills and executive function;
  • leaders in a global economy;
  • talent management;
  • the low-wage workforce and upward mobility;
  • children, youth and learning;
  • the quality of education;
  • community schools;
  • school-based health care;
  • family caregivers of the elderly;
  • working in retirement; and
  • the aging workforce.

Ultimately, the Institute’s work benefits American employers and employees, their families, their communities and the institutions that support them.

Ellen Galinsky

The research we conduct takes the very real questions that arise from living in today’s world and turns them into studies that can inform and affect new ways to think and act at every stage of our lives.
– Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder, Families and Work Institute

Our Impact

The impact of Families and Work Institute’s work can be felt in every sector of society. We conduct the ongoing National Study of the Changing Workforce (1992, 1997, 2002, 2008 and 2015), the largest and most comprehensive ongoing study of the U.S. workforce, a study that is widely used by business to understand and respond to workforce trends as they emerge;

conduct the ongoing National Study of Employers (1998, 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2014), one of the most comprehensive ongoing studies of how employers are responding to the changing workforce;

conduct seminal studies on “hot” topics, such as The State of Health in the American Workforce: Does Having an Effective Workplace Matter?, The Impact of the Recession on Employers, Times Are Changing: Gender and Generation at Work and At Home, Overwork in America, Leaders in a Global Economy and Talent Management, many of which strongly informed the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility (March 31, 2010) and were extensively cited in the Work-Life Balance and The Economics of Workplace Flexibility Report released in conjunction with the Forum by the Council of Economic Advisers;

continue the momentum of the historic White House event by working with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau which hosted “National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility” Forums around the country;

FWI supplemented and supported these Forums by creating a series of reports on research and best practices in various sectors, using data from the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce, the 2008 National Study of Employers and When Work Works;

create When Work Works, a project on workplace effectiveness and flexibility, initially funded by the Sloan Foundation and now in partnership with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that is promoting flexible and effective work arrangements that fit the 21st century workforce and move work forward by creating practical tools, conducting research, holding an annual Work Life Conference, offering the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility, creating the Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work, and creating Workflex: The Essential Guide to Effective and Flexible Workplaces;

study models of financing school-based health care to inform public and private policy;

coin the language that becomes widely used in describing trends, such as “life skills” to describe the executive function skills that help individuals thrive in the short and long term; “work-centric,” “dual-centric,” or “family-centric” in describing the priorities of today’s employees; and “intentional” teaching and parenting in summarizing the components of effective caring and teaching;

convene the annual Work Life Legacy Awards since 2004 to document the history of the work-life movement, filming the stories of the extraordinary men and women who have created this movement as a living archive of the accomplishments of our past and a source of inspiration for the leaders of the future;

spearhead work on the multi-generational workforce, the aging workforce and changes in the workplace and medical systems that will better respond to the aging population;

serve as a founding member of The Conference Board’s Work Life Leadership Council since 1983, a group FWI has led since its formation;

lead Families and Work Institute’s Corporate Leadership Circle (CLC), created in the mid 1990s—as a vehicle for sharing the latest research, thinking and practices with top-level national and global companies;

create Mind in the Making, an unprecedented effort to share the science of children’s learning, which launched with the release (April, 2010) of Ellen Galinsky’s “iconic parenting manual” (Lisa Belkin, New York Times columnist), Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs and now includes a video series—Mind in the Making: Experiments in Children’s Learning, Learning Modules for Educators, Seven Essential Skills Learning Modules, support for Learning Communities that have convened in response to Mind in the Making, and intensive outreach with Community Schools, Community Engagement efforts, and Pediatrics;

write numerous other books, including the first book on parental development, The Six Stages of Parenthood; and

amplify young people’s voices through the Ask the Children studies—examining their surprising views on working parents, their future employment, violence and learning—all studies that led to change.

Our Difference

Families and Work Institute’s work is fueled by personal passion as well as economic and societal need.

The Institute ambitiously takes on big issues: from learning to generational differences to aging in America. We go into uncharted territory, to ask the emerging questions before issues crest and to seek answers.

The Institute staff members have the ability to anticipate the future and to find innovative solutions. Success at FWI involves being ahead of the curve.

We are strategic and results-driven. Perhaps because we work cross sector, we bring these approaches to our work. We are strategic in designing projects, for example by bringing together the opponents and proponents of state parental leave laws to design a study on their impact on parents and employers to ensure that our project would be nonpartisan and scientifically rigorous. We are strategic in fostering connections among unusual partners, such as between public and private-sector leaders and the White House on creating more effective and flexible workplaces.

We are productive. We have produced hundreds of research reports that are widely used. For example, in the past month alone, our reports were downloaded, on average, 123 times per day.

We are constantly in the news, quoted in global, national and regional publications on a daily basis. Articles using our data appeared in the nation’s top newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and The Washington Post. In addition, many top broadcast and radio programs, magazines and Websites quoted our research, including NPR, ABC News Radio, Bloomberg, Business Week, Time Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, Fox Business, Esquire, MSNBC.com, Newsweek.com, CNN.com International, About.com and Yahoo! News, as well as top blogs, such as Wall Street Journal’s The Juggle and At Work blogs, Washington Post’s On Parenting, PBS Newshour blog, The Daily Beast, The New York Times’ The Well, Time.com’s Healthland, U.S. News and World Report’s blog and The Huffington Post. In sum, the potential viewership of these media hits is more than 1.3 billion.

We have a commitment to excellence. We insist on driving our own agenda, on doing work we truly believe in, on doing work of the highest quality and on achieving results. Our hope is that, together and with your help, we can maintain our commitment to excellence in providing research to live by for decades to come.

  • 25 Years of FWI History

    Watch this compelling video about how Families and Work Institute gave voice and research to a movement.

  • Work-Life Book Reviews

    Families and Work Institute launches Work-Life Book Reviews.

    fwi-book-reviews-graphicWe review the hot work-life books, both blog and video reviews, because you don’t have time to read everything.



    When Work Works

    www-award-logo-16-winThe most of effective employers in the United States provide everything from compressed workweeks to employee autonomy to paid time off to volunteers. Check out the best employers in your state here.