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What You Need to Know from the Leading Work-Life Research Centers (in 5 minutes or less)

Heidi Erdmann-Sullivan on May 09, 2017 11:15 AM

When it comes to producing cutting-edge research in work-life integration studies, there are two torchbearers at the front of the pack: Boston College Center for Work & Family and the Families and Work Institute.

We understand that you probably don’t have more than a few minutes in the day to dedicate to a leisurely read through their latest content and research, so we’re providing our own “CliffsNotes” to make sure you know what’s new and what might inspire you.

Here’s a snapshot of the two, plus a few ideas to help you maximize that elusive, five-minute research window.  

Boston College Center for Work and Families

Founded in 1990, Boston Colleges’s Center for Work and Families (BCCWF) is a leader in work-life integration, providing a bridge between academic research and organizational implementation. Their initiatives are directed toward engaging three key stakeholders: Human Resources, senior leaders and line managers, and individual employees.

What are they working on?

The question really is, what aren’t they working on? Between their educational seminars and workshops, custom research and advisory services, keynote presentations and organization change facilitation, they’re covering all the stops. Not only do they help write (and right) the way in work-life integration, they actively help organizations walk the way.  One of  their most recent research reports is on the paradox of the millennial dad – it provides a great overview of the core challenges, trends and projections for this growing demographic.

Their spring Workforce Roundtable Meeting (held earlier this month in Chicago) hosted roundtable members from the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, the University of Montreal and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, who shared their everyday challenges and solutions on topics including Mental Health in the Workplace, Breadwinner Moms and Caregiver Dads, and Race, Culture and Employee Connectedness.

If you had five minutes to give to BCCWF today:

- Consider inquiring about membership in the Workforce Roundtable and join the more than 50 organizations who formally meet twice a year,  share in the opportunity for customized data gathering, and receive exclusive access to premier research.

- Check out the Executive Series on Employee Wellbeing  brief (it includes four mini case studies from major companies who have boosted employee wellness through simple, focused initiatives).

- Read the short case study with IBM, “Empowering Women’s Success in Technology” – with plenty of compelling stats, juicy call-out quotes and helpful facilitator questions to get the conversation started at your organization. 

RELATED: Want More Women in Leadership? Here’s Where You Can Get Started

Families and Work Institute

For more than 25 years, the Families and Work Institute (FWI) has been a thought leader in work-life integration studies. They are a non-profit, non-partisan source for data-driven research that helps define and shape the conversation and the policies that our changing workforce, families and communities demand. 

What are they working on?

The FWI website is not only a rich source for research, best practices and learning (including videos and webinars) for human resources professionals, it’s also a great place to direct your employees to access sound advice in navigating their personal work-life issues.  They offer dedicated site areas with an abundance of materials for parents and caregivers, including real-life case studies, and sections for educators and child care professionals.

Recent research includes a guide for supporting the flex-work needs of  production employees, and the older adult caregiver study, that focuses on the caregiving challenges facing both working and non-working individuals. Their research reveals a surprising stat that slightly more men than women provided senior care in the last five years in the U.S.. 

RELATED: 5 Signs Senior Care is a Source of Employee Stress

Their When Work Works Initiative, run in collaboration with the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), provides a variety of "workflex guides" and resources, plus current employer studies that help HR professionals implement innovative programs at their organizations. They provide free workflex assessments and honor those making a difference through their new, annual When Work Works Awards.

If you had five minutes to give to FWI today:

- Read Ellen Galinksy’s blog post about FWI’s 2016 National Study of Employers that outlines four surprising trends, including data showing SMBs leading the way in workplace flexibility options, and the gaps that still exist for paid paternity leave.

- Check out the 2016 When Work Works Award winners, specifically the press release announcing the honored organizations. Just a quick skim of the highlights of what some of the winners did (like bonuses for taking vacation, and a “Babies at Work” program) can provide great inspiration for your organization.

- Visit their Work-Life book reviews series, with recent reviews (some given in video format) on thought-shaping books like All Joy and No Fun and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In for Graduates.

Hope this post has provided some direction and inspiration as you help light the way for the leaders and the employees at your own organization. Feel free to lend your “CliffsNotes” copy to a friend.

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Heidi Erdmann-Sullivan

As Director, Sales and Marketing at, Heidi is responsible for developing innovative, results-driven programs for Care@Work – a consumer-centered portfolio of family care for employers and their diverse workforce. Passionate about helping HR professionals improve the lives of their employees, Heidi follows and writes about the top trends and research impacting both employees and employers in the workplace, including the future of work, consumerism and HR, building employer brands, pay equity and paid leave policy, and company culture. Prior to joining, Heidi led marketing teams at a variety of technology companies including Constant Contact. She lives north of Boston with her husband Brian and their “daughter” Lexi – a 10 lb. Shih-Tzu therapy dog.