Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why Employees Need Flexibility

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Content prepared by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College

Employees report that they are more productive and more engaged in their work when there are able to balance the demands of work with other aspects of their lives. Improvements in physical and mental health are also associated with workplace flexibility. Below is evidence linking flexible work options to employee and family well-being.

Reducing Stress

Research shows that flexible work arrangements may reduce stress because employees working flexibly are more satisfied with their jobs, more satisfied with their lives, and experience better work-family balance. (21) Overall, employees who have a high work-life fit fare much better than employees who have moderate or low levels of work-life fit. They are more highly engaged and less likely to look for a new job in the next year, and they enjoy better overall health, better mental health, and lower levels of stress. (40)


Participation in formal arrangements that involve flextime promotes a sense among workers that they have the discretion to fit job-related responsibilities into their broader lives, and this discretion contributes to less stress and burnout. A study of more than 19,000 employees at nine distinct companies (in the pharmaceutical, technical, manufacturing, financial, and professional services sectors and in a university) showed that stress and burnout was lower among workers engaged in all types of workplace flexibility arrangements. (44) Similarly, a study of employees in a large multinational company found that greater levels of flexibility were associated with better health: that is, with less self-reported stress and strain, and better physical health. (16)
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