Flextime is Good for Employees' Health, Too

Last Updated Apr 29, 2008 10:15 AM EDT

The Takeaway: Previously, Professor Ellen Ernst Kossek of Michigan State University and two colleagues studied 88 managers and executives in 20 companies, including Merck, Unilever and Starbucks, and found that more opportunities for flexible working led to "significant payoffs: better retention of high performers, greater productivity and efficiency, and improved team functioning."

Now, new research from Wake Forest University has added to the case for flexible working by finding other fundamental benefits: fewer absences through illness, improved commitment to work, and a decreased likelihood that employees report health concerns affecting their jobs.

The research focused on more than 3,000 employees of a single pharmaceutical company so more research in other firms and different work environments may be in order. Still, the results are tantalizing for managers worried about reducing absenteeism and improving their teams' health. The Wake Forest researchers note that flexibility has two aspects-- location and schedule-- and suggest that managers looking to develop a culture of flexibility take the common sense steps of offering part-time, remote or flextime options and training supervisors to be sensitive to the demands of workers' home lives.

For those looking for further information on flexible working, Professor Kossek has coauthored a book on the topic: "CEO of Me: Creating a Life that Works in the Flexible Job Age."

(Image of literal flexible working by lu lu, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.