Moving Work Forward: Society for Human Resource Management and Families and Work Institute Launch Workplace Flexibility Partnership

February 1, 2011

Partnership Focuses on Building Competitive Businesses and Workforce of the 21st Century. One-third of employers are now rated as having effective and flexible workplaces — partnership aims to significantly increase these numbers in five years.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Moving Work Forward, an unprecedented partnership designed to help organizations be more successful by transforming the way businesses view and adopt flexible workplace practices, was announced today by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Families and Work Institute (FWI). 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.”

“Workplace flexibility helps businesses succeed and employees thrive by giving people an integral role in deciding how, when and where they do their best work,” said Henry G. (Hank) Jackson, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of SHRM. “That means higher productivity and employee engagement, lower turnover costs and more innovation — in short, a more competitive organization that is better prepared for what’s next.”

The multiyear partnership — which combines FWI’s preeminent research on the changing workforce, family and community with SHRM’s more than 250,000 human resource professionals, who understand the needs of the changing workforce and workplace, will help transform workplaces by highlighting the importance of effective and flexible workplace strategies to improve the bottom line.

The partnership will build on FWI’s When Work Works, a nationwide initiative designed to share research on workplace effectiveness and flexibility, and SHRM’s We Know Next campaign, which aims to highlight the value of human resources in business success.

“Through our research and our When Work Works initiative, we can now see that small, mid-sized and large employers that adopt effective workplace policies are succeeding,” said Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder of FWI. “Not only do effective and flexible workplace practices improve the lives of employees, they enhance business’ competitive advantage in the 21st century. Flexibility works for both the employer and the employee!”

Partnership efforts include:

  • Practical Tools: The partnership will develop educational materials and practical tools to help employers and human resource professionals advocate for and implement effective and flexible workplace strategies.
  • Research: The partnership will conduct and share research with employers on how effective and flexible workplaces can benefit employers and employees.
  • Work Life Conference: The partnership will host a unique work-life conference from Nov. 7-9 in Washington, which will engage human resource thought leaders from the areas of work-life, talent management, diversity and inclusion, and workplace effectiveness.
  • Awards: The partnership will continue to offer the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility that have been offered nationwide since 2005.

Research by FWI and SHRM shows the importance of flexibility in the workplace and the critical need for increased action on the issue:

  • During the recession, 81 percent of employers maintained the workplace flexibility they offered and 13 percent increased it, according to “The Impact of the Recession on Employers,” by FWI in 2009.
  • C-suite executives say the biggest threat to their organizations’ success is attracting and retaining top talent, according to the SHRM-commissioned survey “Company of the Future” by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2010.
  • A 2010 SHRM poll found that the best way to attract and retain the best people — even above compensation — is to provide flexible work arrangements.

Employers who understand that effective, flexible workplaces are important to their employees also see a benefit for their businesses and organizations. Deloitte LLP has consistently been ranked by Fortune and BusinessWeek among the best places to work, has won a number of Sloan Awards.

“There’s absolutely a connection to employees’ satisfaction and to companies’ business objectives that comes with having an ability to integrate your life interests and work responsibilities in a manner that suits the individual and the organization,” says Sharon Allen, chairman of the board for Deloitte LLP.

Corporations are not the only employers who are taking action to implement flexible workplace strategies — the U.S. military has made it a priority as well.

Says Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “My bet on the future of the military is on its people. If we get it right for our people and their families and meet their needs, they will more than meet ours, no matter what the mission, no matter where it is.”


Workplace flexibility is a way to define how, when and where work gets done and how careers are organized. It is essential that flexibility work for both the employer and the employees, to be effective. For more information about the partnership and for research on effective and flexible work strategies, go to

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