New Guide Offers Bold Ideas for Making Work “Work” During Challenging Economic Times and Spotlights Great Workplaces

April 1, 2008

Self-Funded Sabbaticals, Career Lattices not Ladders, Performance Coaches, and Working In Retirement Are Among the Practices Featured in this Guide

New York , NY – With an uncertain economic future as backdrop, the Families and Work Institute announced today the release of its new 2008 Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work. Featuring the latest winners of the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility, the Guide details the latest and most innovative trends in workplace practices, based in large part on employees’ ratings.

The initiatives highlighted in the Guide were culled from the 129 award-winning organizations located in 24 communities—representing 30% of the U.S. population. They reveal that successful employers use tenacity, innovation and bold approaches to attract, engage and retain quality employees and to help their organizations thrive in changing times. The write-ups in the Guide underline the many positive business impacts of providing a flexible and effective work culture, and point to positive impacts on the surrounding community as well, from reducing traffic congestion and going green to supporting volunteerism.

From employers of all sizes and industries, the employers in Bold New Ideas present a roadmap to creating successful workplaces. Among the organizations in the Guide:

  • 1-800 CONTACTS, a direct-to-consumer contact lens business in Salt Lake City, has invested in a phone switch that lets call center staff take calls and handle even the most complex orders at home. Now, half of its 720 employees no longer commute to the center and turnover rates are below one third of the national average for call centers.
  • VCU Health System in Richmond, Virginia, with 7,650 employees, which has created new ways to address the attract and retain nurses—who are in chronic shortage—by providing flexible self scheduling, reduced workweeks, and a Weekend Scholars program. The result: 90% of employees would recommend VCUHS as a place to work.
  • Nortel, a communications technology company in Dallas, Texas with 3,000 employees, uses its own “TelePresence” solutions to bring people in remote locations together with a life-size, full motion cinematic view of the participants. As a result, air travel and long hours have been vastly reduced.

“One finding is immediately clear from the recent Alfred P. Sloan Award Winners: necessity drives invention,” says Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute. “Even in the face of deepening economic adversity, employers in communities across the United States are reinventing work. The employers highlighted in this Guide are blazing a path to the successful workplace of the future, positioning themselves for long-term sustainability through all the fluctuations of the economy.”

Some of the key top-line findings from these award-winning companies include:

  • 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.
  • Employees are encouraged to take good care of themselves.
  • Employees are accountable for results.

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 2008 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, visit .

Families and Work Institute (FWI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that studies the changing workforce and workplace, the changing family and the changing 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, and motivates action. Since the Institute was founded in 1989, its work has focused in three major areas: the workforce/workplace, youth and early childhood. For more information, visit

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