When Work Works Winners Honored for Effective Workplace Practices

By SHRM Online staff May 18, 2017

Month-long paid sabbaticals, child care subsidy programs and customized schedules are some of the ways that the winners of the 2017 When Work Works Awards exemplify innovative and effective employment practices across the U.S.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) announced the 298 winners on May 18. Recipients represent 44 states and Washington, D.C.

"Business leaders continue to seek ways to create effective work environments that are conducive to increased productivity, innovation, creativity and engagement. The 2017 winners give strong evidence that effective and flexible workplaces are key to successful business strategies," said Ellen Galinsky, in a news statement. She is president of the Families and Work Institute, the originator of the award, and senior research advisor at SHRM.

Some of this year's winners include:

  • American College of Healthcare Sciences, Portland, Ore.—Offers paid parental leave, child care subsidy programs and a playroom.
  • Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, P.C., Little Rock, Ark.—Allows employees to customize their work schedules to fit their needs and goals. Examples include working compressed schedules that result in a three-day weekend every other week, working alternate schedules, and working from home when needed.
  • EvoText, Inc., Burlington, Mass.—Offers a flexible transition period for mothers and fathers after their child is born, and for parents who have adopted a child.
  • hrQ, Denver—Encourages employees to take time off as needed; there are no set work hours or locations.
  • iHire LLC, Frederick, Md.—Has a results-only work environment culture, with employees having 100 percent control over where and when they work.
  • Mahoney Ulbrich Christiansen & Russ, St. Paul, Minn.—Promotes a culture in which everyone is a coach and everyone has a coach. This enhances communication and promotes discussion about development and individual goals.
  • Morris Financial Concepts Inc., Mount Pleasant, S.C.—Provides each employee with a paid, month-long sabbatical once every five years. The time off is to be taken all at once so the employee completely disconnects from work to "rejuvenate and recharge."
  • Northwest Lineman Training Center, Denton, Texas—Provides new parents with a customized time-off and re-entry plan, rather than asking them to follow a set policy.
  • Onsite Innovations, Mount Laurel, N.J.—Reviews each position to evaluate work-from-home capability, so flexibility is formalized for every new hire in the first month of employment.
  • Phase 2, Oklahoma City—Offers its employees the ability to work anytime, anywhere. On "Productivity Fridays," everyone works from the place where they are most productive and effective.
  • Roth Staffing Companies, Portland, Ore.—Offers a 9/80 flex schedule where employees can opt to work 80 hours over the course of nine days instead of the typical 10, and take every other Friday off (26 three-day weekends each year).
  • Ryan, LLC, Sacramento, Calif.—Measures employees on results achieved, not on hours worked. Employees can choose where and when they want to work day to day.
  • The Climate Trust, Portland, Ore.—Ensures that employees in all key areas are cross-trained to allow for coverage when staffers participate in its sabbatical program.
  • TowerPinkster, Kalamazoo, Mich.—Offers phased retirement, assists with all fees associated with obtaining licensure, and offers internships.
  • XPLANE, Portland, Ore.—Offers employees up to $200 monthly for expenses related to their work/life balance, such as babysitting, dog walking and housekeeping. 

"These winners are changing the norms of work and the workplace," said Cassidy Solis, senior advisor for workplace flexibility at SHRM, "by restructuring how, when and where work gets done in ways that work for employees while also achieving and improving organizational success."

The awards honor organizations that have created effective workplaces based on six evidence-based components that are linked with positive employee and employer outcomes, according to the 2016 Effective Workplace Index, which is based on SHRM's National Study of the Changing Workforce. Those components are:

  • Autonomy.
  • Work/life fit.
  • Supervisor support for work success.
  • Satisfaction with wages, benefits, and opportunities to advancement.
  • Job challenges and learning opportunities.
  • Culture of respect, trust and belonging.

Selection involves a two-step process: an evaluation of employers' flexibility programs and practices and a confidential employee survey on the key ingredients of an effective and flexible workplace. Judges also consider employees' real-life experiences at their worksites. Applicants are measured against national norms from SHRM's National Study of Employers and its National Study of the Changing Workforce.

A list of winners can be found by state on this interactive map.  

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