St. Thomas-based center oversees award program that champions work-life balance

St. Thomas center oversees award program that champions work-life balance

In September 2003, the U.S. Senate declared October National Work and Family Month, affirming the idea that "supporting a balance between work and personal life is in the best interest of national worker productivity" and that "reducing the conflict between work and family life should be a national priority."

A new awards program, being managed by the Center for Ethical Business Cultures at the University of St. Thomas, shows that Minnesota is part of that effort. The Minnesota Work-Life Champions Awards recognize and reward employers who create a work environment that encourages employees to meet business goals as well as their personal goals and family needs.

The awards are sponsored by The Minnesota Work-Life Champions Partnership, a group of local chambers of commerce, business and professional associations, foundations, and nonprofit work-life advocacy organizations.

“Employers who implement effective work-life practices have a competitive edge. This award applauds employers who recognize the value of supporting the well-being of employees (and their families) as a means to achieve business goals,” explained David Rodbourne, vice president of the Center for Ethical Business Cultures at St. Thomas.

Award applications are available at, with applications due no later than Oct. 21.

Applicants in four size categories, based on number of employees, will be evaluated on their: organizational culture and leadership; work practices and flexibility; health, wellness and benefits; leave options; help with personal and family issues; and community involvement. In each category, gold, silver and bronze champions will be honored.

Companies that meet baseline standards for work-life programs within their organizations will receive Minnesota Work-Life Advocate awards. Winners of Advocate and Champion awards will be announced next January.

Each organization that completes the employer application will receive as a gift a PDF package containing a 14-page booklet of instructions for conducting work-life focus groups (including questions to ask), a 30-question childcare needs assessment and a 20-question climate survey for employees.

By applying for the Minnesota Work-Life Champions Awards, employers signal that they are committed to serving employee interests as they also strive to achieve business goals. “People naturally want to work for flexible, supportive and understanding leaders,” explains Susan Seitel, president of Work & Family Connection Inc. “The Work-Life Champions Awards highlight those Minnesota organizations that exhibit this exemplary behavior.”

The 2006 Minnesota Work-Life Champions Awards have a framework similar to that outlined by the National Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP). The award was initiated by a grant from The McKnight Foundation and is managed by the Center for Ethical Business Cultures. Work & Family Connection Inc., a nationally recognized publisher and consultant on work-life practices, provides content expertise to the project.

For more information about the 2006 Minnesota Work-Life Champions Awards, contact Ron James, president and CEO at the Center for Ethical Business Cultures, (651) 962-4123, or David Rodbourne, (651) 962-4122.