Be a Leader of Workplace Innovation.
Bring Your Ideas to Life.
Together, We Can Truly Create Better Workplaces.

FIRST ROUNDS: Mar 2022  Apr 2022
FINALS: Jun 12, 2022 Jun 15, 2022

About the better workplaces challenge cup

Moving forward takes innovation. Advancing our profession takes creative minds.  Bringing creativity to life takes resources.

SHRMLabs, powered by SHRM, is hosting the 2nd annual workplace tech search for the most pioneering, ground-breaking, original ideas that will reinvent how we do work.


SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today’s evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally.

Have you found a better way to do something and are looking for the financial resources to stand it up and share it with future, potential customers? The Better Workplace Challenge Cup is your answer.

Learn More About


This three-round competition, leading to a $50,000 cash prize, begins in February 2022 with the virtual first rounds. It then moves on to the semi-finals, also being held virtually, in May. The competition culminates at  SHRM’s Annual Conference and Exposition in New Orleans, LA June 12 – 15, 2022.

At each level you will present and prove your ideas to a panel of judges composed of HR practitioners and business executives. Along the way you’ll receive feedback and mentorship from workplace subject matter experts.

At the Finals—you give it all you’ve got with one champion emerging! Are you ready to throw your hat into the ring? 

Challenge Cup Competition Prizes Include:

  • $50,000 cash prize
  • All-expenses paid trip for two (2) representative(s) to SHRM’s Annual Conference and Exposition
  • Complimentary booth space in the Workplace Innovation Zone on the Exposition Hall Floor
  • Exposure to 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries who impact the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally

Judging Criteria:

  • Is this a business that will be able to grow to positively affect the lives and work of millions of employees?
  • Is this a business that will create better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together?
  • Is this a business that will provide value to SHRM members and their companies by helping HR professionals become more efficient and strategic?

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Company must be an early-stage startup in the workplace tech, HR tech, Future of Work, or Human Capital Services market.
  • Company must be a for-profit company established with a management team and public-facing website.
  • Company must be able to convey a business model and demonstrate traction, engagement, and adoption metrics.
  • Company cannot have raised more than $5 million in total outside funding at the time of the application.
  • Company cannot have earned more than $5 million in revenue at the time of the application.
  • Company must have a prototype or minimum viable product.
  • Workplace solution must directly contribute to better workplaces. In particular, we will be looking for solutions in the following workplace market segments, though others are encouraged to apply:
    • Business process improvement
    • Communication & engagement
    • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
    • Employee benefits
    • Employee experience
    • Employee recognition & reward
    • Health & wellness
    • HRIS & payroll
    • Leadership development
    • Learning management
    • Onboarding & knowledge management
    • Performance management
    • Project management
    • Team enhancement
    • Upskilling & reskilling
    • Workforce planning & succession planning
  • Each company is only eligible to present at one of the first-round events.
2022 competition rounds

Only 7 applicants will be selected to participate in the first round, segments 1-10.

  • Virtually share your innovation with potential investors and customers via a recorded 3-minute pitch.
  • 20 companies move on to the semi-finals.
  • Utilize the feedback from round 1, and continue to perfect your pitch.
  • The field narrows to four startups advancing to the Finals
  • Share your innovation with SHRM’s 18K+ Annual Conference & Expo attendees via a booth at the Workplace Innovation Zone on the Expo Hall floor.
  • Present to an audience of leading HR and business professionals, investors, fellow innovators, and the media.
  • 1 winner will be selected.

While there’s only one Challenge Cup winner, all competitors win throughout the process.

In the first rounds of the competition, you’ll be exposed to SHRM members and executive management, and the wider world through media outlets. At the semi-finals your exposure only grows, and you will receive feedback from the first round to help guide you through the next round of competition.

Those that advance to the finals will receive not only an all-expenses paid trip* to SHRM’s Annual Conference & Expo and the networking opportunities it brings, but will also be given complimentary booth space on the Expo Hall Floor in the Workplace Innovation Zone, with potential exposure to 18,000 future users and/or investors (a value of $10k+).

The winner will receive a cash prize of $50,000 to continue expanding your innovations.

*Subject to some restrictions. See Official Rules for details.

Experience the 2021 Competition



ENTER THE Better workplaces challenge cup



SHRMLabs, powered by SHRM, is inspiring innovation to create better workplace technologies that solve today’s most pressing workplace challenges.
SHRMLabs supports SHRM in:

Elevating HR as a thought leader on the future of work and workplace technology.

Leveraging the collective expertise of SHRM members and staff to help tech innovators create technologies catered to the needs of workers and the workplace

Identifying, evaluating, and enabling the success of startup companies in the workplace technology industry

Contact Us
Interested in competing, hosting, or partnering with us?  Let us know!

Contact Us | 800.283.SHRM (7476)

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