In my work as a talent development professional, I interview many people of all ages and backgrounds, but there is one question that comes up in every interview: are there flexible scheduling opportunities? Last year, a large-scale survey of U.S. companies estimated that approximately 45% of businesses with more than 50 employees offer some type of flexibility to most or all of their employees.
A study at Durham University found that flexible work scheduling opportunities that give the employee more choice or control are likely to have positive effects on health and well-being. People with adaptable work environments tend to develop healthier habits and are more efficient and productive workers, as they have more time to devote to self-improvement and to friends and family. A 2013 study published in the Social Science and Medicine Journal analyzed shifts in a workplace initiating flexible scheduling and found that results-focused (as opposed to specifically scheduled) teams showed decreased behaviors that contribute to lifestyle diseases, and increased sleep and exercise. More specifically, flexible scheduling has been found to improve systolic blood pressure and heart rate, tiredness, mental health, sleep duration, and sleep quality and alertness.
Having this type of flexibility is also one of the biggest employee morale boosters. A study done by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation found that employees who work in an environment viewed as more family supportive experienced lower levels of work-family conflict which was in turn related to greater job and family satisfaction, followed by greater overall life satisfaction. The benefits aren’t just good for employees; they’re also great for companies. A 2014 of report produced by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors reports that businesses benefit by enhancing recruitment, reducing turnover, increasing job satisfaction, and reducing costs related to turnover, healthcare, and absenteeism. The 2014 National Workplace Flexibility Study polled managers in three different workplaces on flexibility, skills, and support, and found that more than half of the managers reported improvements in team communication, and 98% reported no negative effects of increased flexibility. Flexible workplace scheduling also enhances the attractiveness of a company, making it easier to find new talent, as it is an indicator of a strong, progressive company culture (see: Google) and a trusting environment between employees and their management. Simply put, having happier and healthier employees is highly beneficial to both employees and employers.
Is your company interested in adopting a flexible workplace scheduling policy? Visit The Sloan Center’s Focus on Workplace Flexibility to find information on how to develop a plan. Your employees will be happier and healthier than ever.