Flexible working boosts the bottom line

2008

If you're stuck in an organization that still refuses to acknowledge the benefits of flexible working, bookmark this page now. Because a new study has found that greater flexibility reduces absenteeism, improves employee health and even helps to improve employee commitment.

A large proportion of American managers remain sceptical about the benefits of remote working, believing workers who "telecommute" have all but stepped off the career ladder, are troublesome to manage and often difficult to communicate with.

But according to new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, flexible working brings with it a raft of benefits for both employees and their organisations.

The study, based on a health survey completed by 3,193 employees of a large multinational pharmaceutical company, shows that flexible working is associated with definitive improvements in absenteeism rates, job commitment and employee health.

"This study provides evidence that flexibility is associated with health or well-being over time," said Joseph G. Grzywacz, Ph.D., senior author and an associate professor of family medicine.

"For managers, the results suggest that implementing flexible work arrangements can contribute to the bottom-line."

The researchers analyzed data from health risk appraisals to determine how increases or decreases in perceived flexibility from one year to the next impacted a variety of factors.

Results indicated that an increase in perceived flexibility was associated with a decrease in sickness absences and work-related impairment, and improved job commitment.

Decreases in perceived flexibility over the year were associated with a significant increase in impairment and reduced job commitment, but had little impact on absence.

The results also suggest that part-time, remote and flextime options may be especially useful in creating a culture of flexibility, especially when managers and supervisors are encouraged to be supportive of workers' lives outside the office.

"These results strengthen the evidence suggesting that programs and policies that promote flexibility in the workplace may have beneficial health effects for workers," said Grzywacz.

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Older Comments

This was a great article on flexibilty of work schedules to reduce stress. Work stress takes a much larger toll on our health than we care to admit. The author is right on the money with this article. In my book, Wingtips with Spurs, I devote an entire section to the effects of stress on our mental and physical health. Not from a medical point of view but rather from the view of a human resources professional of 30 years. Stress kills and will keep killing as long as we refuse to learn the coping tools. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR www.michaellgooch.com

Michael Texas