Five Companies That Get Workflex Right

Meet the leaders who have helped their organizations become employers of choice.

By Kathy Gurchiek October 1, 2015
  • Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education
    An employee telecommutes one day a week and brings her youngest child to work one day a week to cut travel and day care expenses.

  • Bon Secours of Virginia
    Children of Bon Secours employees make friends during playtime at the health system’s Richmond Family Center.

  • Bon Secours of Virginia
    A child plays at one of three onsite child care centers operated by Bon Secours of Virginia for employees’ children and grandchildren.

  • Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau
    Employees use the creativity room to get in a game of Wii bowling.

  • Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau
    An employee takes work time to explore one of the sites in the area that the bureau promotes.

  • UHA Health Insurance Co.
    Employees take advantage of paid time off to enjoy a rooftop workout.

  • UHA Health Insurance Co.
    UHA employees take yoga class at the company’s onsite wellness institute.

  • UHA Health Insurance Co.
    UHA employees, who receive two hours of paid time off each week to work out, exercise during their workday.

  • UHA Health Insurance Co.
    A UHA employee balances job and family demands by working from home.

Photo Credits: Photos courtesy of Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education, Bon Secours Richmond Family Center, Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau and UHA Health Insurance Co. Co. Marketing Specialist Walter Kinoshita.

HR Magazine October 2015Looking for a job? How does this sound: onsite child care, paid time off to exercise, and the ability to recharge during the day by watching a movie or catching a nap? Those are just a few of the options offered by a small sampling of the 284 organizations that recently won a When Work Works Award.

You probably want to know when you can start, right? That’s one of the reasons smart companies are thinking creatively about workplace flexibility: It makes them attractive to job seekers.

The When Work Works Award, formerly known as the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility, recognizes companies that have effective and innovative workflex initiatives. It is jointly sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute.

If your company is a paragon of flexible programs and productivity, consider applying for the 2015 award. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 6. For more information, visit

Finalists will be announced in December, and winners will be revealed in April 2016.

HR Magazine spoke with HR leaders at five of the 2014 award winners to learn more about their exemplary programs and practices.

Architecture Technology Corp.

This 34-year-old private software company has 100 employees. It is headquartered in Minneapolis, with offices in Ithaca, N.Y.; Washington, D.C.; and San Jose, Calif. The company’s “40 in 5” initiative allows employees to work any combination of hours Monday through Friday as long as they put in 40 hours onsite by the end of the week.

Megan Lee, SHRM-SCP, director of HR

Approach to Workflex

Workflex is a way to attract top talent. Our CEO periodically talks about eliminating the “40 in 5” initiative because he expects others to make the same sacrifices he did. But I remind him that the younger generation demands flexibility.

Top Business Benefits

Our hiring ratio has greatly improved: It used to be 225 applicants to 1 hire; now we are hovering around 115 applicants to 1 hire because the job seekers we’re getting are a better fit. We had no voluntary turnover the first and second quarters of 2015 and are on track to repeat that in the third quarter. In addition, the 2014 When Work Works Survey found that 93 percent of our employees would recommend us as an employer to a friend or colleague and that 87.5 percent were enthusiastic about their jobs.

Her Advice

You need to have a business plan. If you don’t, you’ll never get C-suite buy-in. Recognize that offering workflex could mean cutting back elsewhere—but you may save in the long run.

UHA Health Insurance Co.

Located in Honolulu, this 19-year-old company employs 135 people. It offers workers eight hours of paid leave each year to take part in community volunteer activities; leave-sharing, which allows employees to donate their sick time to be used by a colleague coping with a medical hardship; and two hours of paid time off per week for working out.

Emily Santiago, SHRM-SCP, senior vice president, chief human resources officer

Approach to Workflex

There’s a misconception that workplace flexibility needs to be the same for everybody. It’s really about balancing the employees’ and organization’s needs and working together to creatively address issues. Our customer service call center, for example, looked at the call volume to determine when associates could use wellness leave without adversely affecting service levels.

Top Business Benefits

In 2014, our retention rate was 86.79 percent—higher than the Hawaii Employers Council’s community average of 84.9 percent—and it’s been almost 5 percent higher than the council’s community average for the past 12 years.

Our wellness and workflex initiatives help drive revenue while reducing administrative costs. In 2010, our revenue was $119.1 million and our administrative operational expenses were at 13.7 percent. By 2014, those figures were $227.9 million and 9.3 percent, respectively.

Her Advice

Give your CEO comparative data to show how workflex has reduced turnover, increased retention and lowered medical claims at other organizations. Start small. We piloted our program with our HR department to see what worked and what didn’t. Finally, train managers on how to supervise remote employees. Encourage them to develop creative solutions.

Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau

This 27-year-old North Carolina organization employs 22 people. Its offerings include an employee-designed “creativity room” that provides space to nap, watch movies or even play Wii games. Staff can also use company time to take part in the tourism activities that the organization promotes—testing out a paintball company, walking a new hiking trail or taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the Durham Bulls baseball stadium.

E’Vonne Coleman-Cook, vice president

Approach to Workflex

We feel a responsibility and commitment to support employees’ work environment. Some employees work from home occasionally, and we moved our main office system to the cloud to give people the flexibility to work from home. Additionally, cross-training has given employees a sense of freedom to do that. We trust our workers, so we don’t count keystrokes, but we expect them to be online and we use internal Skype.

Top Business Benefits

Candidates point to our staff longevity, flexibility and benefits as three reasons for wanting to be on our team. Ten of our 22 employees have been here for between five and 15 years. Our workflex scheduling and creativity room receive high marks on exit surveys.

Ensuring Fairness

Anyone can ask to work from home, but we explain to candidates that telework depends on the nature of the job, the project they’re working on and the equipment they need to perform their duties. Because of her role, our front desk person may not telecommute a full day, for example, but she may be out of the office for a few hours. She will make up that time elsewhere or work on a task at home.

Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education

The 37-year-old company employs 15 people. Located in Phoenix, the foundation is a resource for Arizonians seeking free legal assistance. Located in Phoenix, the foundation is a resource for Arizonians seeking free legal assistance. Workflex programs include allowing staff to bring their children to work, flexible scheduling, telecommuting, compressed workweeks and an extended-leave bank that employees can use to care for ailing loved ones.

Lara Slifko, chief resource officer

Approach to Workflex

Initially, we had a strict policy requiring employees who telecommuted to list everything they were working on and get approval, but we found we were being too stringent and moved away from that practice. Now we ask employees to turn in a brief summary of their assignments twice a month. If we notice an issue, IT can look into how often a worker logs in remotely. Nearly everyone telecommutes at least once a week.

Top Business Benefits

Workflex has helped with recruitment, retention and loyalty. One co-worker who works from home one day a week to watch her son told us she would have left for a higher-paying job if flexibility wasn’t available. Another was able to form a dance troupe as a side business. She is extremely driven to provide high-quality work by making every minute in the office count. And potential employees are drawn to us by our flex options.

Her Advice

Be employee-focused. That doesn’t mean sacrificing profit; you can recruit and retain very high-caliber individuals. Talk to your workers. What do they need? What would reduce their stress?

Bon Secours Health System of Virginia

This not-for-profit Catholic health system based in Richmond is the fourth largest in Virginia. The organization employs 15,000 people, 83 percent of whom are women. It offers three onsite child care centers for employees’ children and grandchildren, emergency child care and sick-child care staffed by a full-time pediatric nurse, and a 50 percent subsidy for elder care nursing assistance. Other offerings include compressed schedules, telecommuting and job-sharing.

Dawn Trivette, administrative director, work and family services

Approach to Workflex

Each team finds innovative ways for its members to do their jobs. We share success stories in our company newsletter and at departmental meetings. Your career can move up, down or sideways; there is no penalty for jumping off the fast track.

Top Business Benefits

We can attract the best and brightest in our field. In addition to the When Work Works Award, we’ve won numerous other awards, including Best Companies for Hourly Workers, AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50, Best Places to Work in Virginia and 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. We scored 4.48 out of 5.0 for employee engagement in 2015, according to Gallup, and we’re able to show a 2:1 return on investment from our sick-child care program.

Ensuring Fairness

Our managers and teams decide which flex options to use. People have varying needs at different points of their careers.

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