Work Foundation

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The Work Foundation is a British not-for-profit foundation that provides Consultancy and Research to the UK business, governmental and not-for-profit community. It concentrates on improving both economic performance and quality of working life. It is based in London and has 60 staff. Formerly The Industrial Society, The Work Foundation - since 2002 - has shifted its business model away from being a training organisation towards being a research, consultancy and policy think tank under the leadership of former Observer Editor Will Hutton.[1] Its reports on various aspects of the labour market are often cited by the media.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] In 2008 Stephen Bevan replaced Hutton as managing director, with Hutton becoming executive vice-chair.[10]


On 3 April 1918 the Reverend Robert Hyde founded what was initially called The Boys’ Welfare Association. Prior to this he had worked with the poor of Hoxton, London - a deprived, slum area. As part of his work he has managed boys' clubs in London's East End. He joined the Ministry of Munitions during the first world war working as a civil servant dealing with the social conditions of the munitions workers. As a consequence he had gained first hand experience of appalling workplace conditions.[11]

As a result of this knowledge he sought to improve working conditions for the boys and young men employed in munitions plants. Hyde genuinely believed that benign employers and industrial harmony had the capacity to create as much wealth as harsh taskmasters and conflict. He also sought to 'provide proper facilities for the maximum enjoyment of the Workers' free time'.[12]

In 1919 The Boys' Welfare Association changed its name to The Industrial Welfare Society; this signified an extension of its activities. Much of the Society’s work in the 1920s and 1930s involved the struggle for what is now considered very basic, such as employer-provided lunchrooms and restrooms. It was greatly helped by the willingness of Prince Albert to be President. He was very willing to involve himself through his own personal participation. He visited between 120 and 150 workplaces around the country between 1920 and 1935. He organized and partially attended The Duke of York Boys’ Camps - camps set up for both working class and public school boys.[13] In addition he attended or sent a letter to every annual meeting of the society until his accession to the throne as George VI in 1937, at which point he became the organization's Patron. The Industrial Society was granted a Royal Charter in 1984. Robert Hyde continued as head of the Society until his retirement in 1948. [14]

Robert Hyde's replacement was John Marsh, who remained as Director until 1962. Under Marsh's direction the Society turned more positively from the provision of good physical working conditions to the fostering of good human relations in industry[15]. In 1962 John Garnett became Director and in 1965 the name was shortened to "The Industrial Society".[16] John Garnett was Director until 1986, and under his leadership the Society obtained an increasingly high profile. It was briefly in charge of the "I'm Backing Britain" campaign in 1968. On John Garnett's retirement, Alistair Graham became Chief Executive, followed in 1991 by Rhiannon Chapman and in 1994 by Tony Morgan who oversaw a series of rejuvenatory reforms. The failing financial circumstances of the society were remedied and new training programs and conferences were instituted.[17] In 2000 Will Hutton took over as CEO. The Industrial Society was in turn renamed The Work Foundation in 2002. In 2008 Stephen Bevan replaced Hutton as managing director, with Hutton becoming executive vice-chair.[10]

The Work Foundation has HRH Prince Philip as its current Patron.[18][19]

Current Activity

The Work Foundation is focused on promoting the concept of 'Good Work' - the notion that good quality jobs lead to higher productivity, improved Quality of working life, improved employee satisfaction and better workplace health and general well-being. It has developed a growing empirical evidence base to support this position. Current research includes a three-year investigation into the knowledge economy, a programme of work on "Ideopolis: Knowledge Cities", a major study of "public value", a three year project examining the role of leadership in driving high performance in business, and several significant projects examining the changing nature of workplace health. The Work Foundation also has a growing consultancy practice providing support to businesses on strategic change management, leadership development and employee engagement. Over 400 organisations belong to The Work Foundation as 'partners' or 'principal partners'.


Accessed June 2012: [20]



Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. "Industrial Society to sharpen its act with new name under Hutton", The Independent (1999-11-22). Retrieved on 2007-08-08. 
  2. "Outsourcing impact 'exaggerated'", BBC News (2007-07-09). Retrieved on 2007-07-18. 
  3. "Offshoring threat to jobs "exaggerated"", The Scotsman (2007-07-09). Retrieved on 2007-07-18. 
  4. "NATIONAL NEWS: Warning for workers over private equity firms", The Financial Times (2007-05-26). Retrieved on 2007-07-18. 
  5. Hinsliff, Gaby (2002-10-20). "New dads get raw deal from bosses", London: The Observer. Retrieved on 2007-07-18. 
  6. Hinsliff, Gaby (2003-10-05). "UK's top companies work 42 per cent harder", London: The Independent. Retrieved on 2007-07-18. 
  7. Coughlan, Sean (2004-07-31). "Long hours get short shrift", London: The Guardian. Retrieved on 2007-07-18. 
  8. "Australia suffers as women get bad workplace deal: expert", The Age (2006-11-06). Retrieved on 2007-07-18. 
  9. Hosking, Patrick (2006-12-30). "Barrett leaves Barclays transformed and successful", London: The Times. Retrieved on 2007-07-18. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 The Work Foundation's Team of Directors. Retrieved on 2009-03-06.
  11. "Men Around Churchill By René Kraus", Ayer Publishing (1971). Retrieved on 2007-08-09. 
  12. "Britishness Since 1870 By Paul Ward", Routledge (2004). Retrieved on 2007-08-09. 
  13. "Royal Education: Past, Present and Future By Peter Gordon, Denis Lawton", Routledge (1999). Retrieved on 2007-08-09. 
  14. The Industrial Society, 1918-1968, by Elizabeth Sydney
  15. Sidney, op cit
  16. "Sources for the history of health and work by Vicky Long, Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick.", University of Warwick (2007-07-27). Retrieved on 2007-08-09. 
  17. "The New Statesman Profile - The Industrial Society by Barbara Gunnell", The New Statesman (2000-02-07). Retrieved on 2007-07-31. 
  18. "A History of the Commonwealth Study Conferences by Ian Anderson and Joel Ruimy", The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference. Retrieved on 2007-07-31. 
  19. "The Industrial Society History", The Work Society. Retrieved on 2007-08-06. 
  20. Work Foundation People, organizational web page, accessed June 28, 2012.