Reinventing Work Initiative

Purpose and Goals

We believe it is possible for workers and companies in Massachusetts to thrive together. While the economy is strong, many workers in the Commonwealth are unable to meet basic needs. At the same time, businesses are facing a tight labor market that’s making it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain talent. Companies are also being forced to reconsider their business models by a mandate that all Massachusetts businesses pay a $15 per hour minimum wage by 2023. We believe that many businesses are interested in—and have been making strides toward—redesigning jobs in ways that enhance the working environment and are economically sustainable. This alignment of interests between businesses and workers presents a unique opportunity to support and learn from companies looking for ways to both support workers and business growth.

Project Description

In the first phase of the initiative (January 2019 - August 2019), we conducted interviews and focus groups with Massachusetts businesses across different industries, primarily those that employ large numbers of low-income or entry-level workers. Our objective was to learn about businesses’ needs and goals for the jobs they offer and create a repository of any efforts undertaken to redesign aspects of those jobs. It was also important to learn about the structural barriers or challenges businesses have faced related to recruiting and retaining entry-level and frontline staff, including how these vary by sector, size, or region.

In the second phase of the initiative, projected to launch in 2020, we will convene a cohort of businesses committed to taking steps toward redesigning their jobs. These changes may include restructuring wages and benefits, adjusting worker schedules, creating job positions that allow for income and career growth, or establishing employee engagement or ownership programs. This cohort will be selected through an open, competitive, and transparent process, and it will be supported by a series of peer-to-peer learning communities and other potential supports that enable experimentation and pilots.

As we travel with these companies on their journeys, we will gain insights into the challenges they face structuring and implementing these changes. We will see what works, and analyze the impact job improvements have on both workers and business. We will then publish the results of our research, highlighting best practices and lessons learned to empower more businesses to improve worker’s lives and business growth.

To receive periodic updates on progress of the Reinventing Work Initiative, contact Abadur Rahman.