New Book Highlights 260 Ways Employers “Make Work Work” in a Down Economy

August 12, 2009

The 2009 Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work 
Highlights Trends and Solutions for Dealing with the Financial Crisis

New York, NY – In a time of high unemployment and widespread cost cutting, a surprising number of organizations around the country are raising the bar in developing effective and flexible workplace practices. Hundreds of these ideas are captured in the 2009 Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work, released today by the Families and Work Institute (FWI).

Despite the recession, a May 2009 nationally representative FWI study found that 81% of U.S. employers are maintaining and 13% are increasing the flexibility they offer. In fact, many report they are using flexibility as a tool to manage through the recession.

Bringing that and other trends into tangible focus, Bold New Ideas features 260 award-winning employers from around the country by geography and by innovative practice, allowing readers to search for organizations in their industry or area, or find examples of best practices of effective and flexible workplaces from around the nation. All of the employers are 2008 winners of the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility, presented each year through a partnership among FWI, the Institute for a Competitive Workplace and the Twiga Foundation. The award is unique in that applying employers have to score in the top 20% of employers nationally to be selected as winners and two thirds of the winning score is based on employee experiences as reported through an employee survey.

Some of the notable practices profiled in the Guide, exemplifying what is possible even in a difficult economy, include:

  • Giving employees four Fridays off in the summer in lieu of raises the organization cannot afford
  • Providing employees with information to better manage their own finances
  • Allowing employees to work at home one to two days a week to save on commuting costs in response to fluctuating gas prices
  • Creating funds to support their own employees or others in the community who are suffering during the recession
  • Giving employees the option to take unlimited, unpaid personal time off during the downturn, while keeping full medical benefits and the right to return to their jobs
  • Allowing employees greater scheduling flexibility if their spouse has lost a job or seen their hours reduced and the family needs to make changes
  • Creating flex year and flex career programs
  • Creating workflow coordinators to monitor overwork and creating wellness scorecards to promote wellness
  • Providing a coach for new parents

“In many ways, the recession has led increasing numbers of employers to improve their workplaces so that they work for the employer and the employees during these difficult times,” says Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of FWI and lead editor of the Bold New Ideas Guide. “The employers in Bold New Ideas present a roadmap to creating successful workplaces in a down economy. We hope these examples will provide ideas to employers around the country for their own programs, and help employees identify progressive organizations in their region – or become internal advocates for change.”

For the first time, this year’s Guide is available not only for purchase in hardcopy and downloadable via PDF, but will also available in searchable format on

The When Work Works project ( is designed to bring research on workplace effectiveness and flexibility into community and business practice and to identify the emerging trends to make work “work” in ways that meet the needs of employees, employers and communities.

The Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility are part of When Work Works, a national project on workplace effectiveness and flexibility sponsored by Families and Work Institute in partnership with the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Twiga Foundation. To download the 2009 Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work, to see the top ten employers in a variety of categories, and to see what some of the nation’s leading organizations are saying about how to make work “work” for employers and employees,


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 and provides insight and knowledge. As an action tank, FWI conducts numerous studies that put its research into action and then evaluates the results. Its purpose is to create research to live by. For more information, see

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