The transition to post-industrialism has generated a range of new tensions between welfare arrangements and labour market performance, which confront today's welfare states with new challenges for employment-friendly recalibration, such as flexicurity, activation and work-care conciliation. Hence, the question of whether, how and to what extent current welfare states are able to adapt to the conditions and needs of post-industrial labour markets has become a major issue in recent welfare state research. This article identifies and discusses key debates in this literature on the politics of employment-friendly reforms. It first focuses on the general capacity for reform in mature welfare states and then discusses regime-specific reform politics, since post-industrialism confronts different welfare regimes with very different challenges. For each regime, the article proposes a range of research frontiers and open debates which we consider particularly relevant and fruitful avenues for future theorizing and research.