studies and research

there's plenty of evidence

Find it hard to believe that working flexibly, virtualy, or in a high-commitment work environment is smart business practice?

There’s plenty of evidence that “If you give an inch of work-life support, employees will give you back a mile of productivity.” Here are some studies that look at the effects that flexible and customized work arrangements have on business outcomes such as attracting talent, earning employee loyalty, motivating and unleashing employee performance, cost reduction, and improved financial performance. We look at the benefits that accrue to both the company and employees to see that it’s truly a win-win situation.

Research on the benefits of work-life programs in general and flexible work arrangements in particular shows that businesses have much to gain from implementing policies and practices that allow their employees to fit together their work-life puzzles. The benefits accrue in these areas: attract and recruit talented employees; retain committed workers and build loyalty; engage and motivate them, unleashing their performance; cut costs; and improve financial performance. How improvement in each of these results from flexible, customized work arrangements is described in each of these studies.

People with custom work arrangements are more satisfied, engaged, and committed to their employers. They work hard and feel they have a stake in the organization. When people are satisfied with their jobs, they are more motivated and productive. Research studies document how employee-friendly, customized work options promote job satisfaction and commitment, employee engagement, creativity, and motivation, and in turn lead to better performance outcomes such as quality, productivity, innovation and market share.

  • The Families and Work Institute has conducted studies showing that employees with access to flexible work arrangements tend to be more satisfied with and committed to their jobs. Their findings include: 67 percent of the employees in workplaces with high levels of flexibility had high levels of job satisfaction, while only 23 percent were highly satisfied in organizations with low levels of flexibility.

  • A survey of 104 office personnel and 127 truck drivers in a large national trucking company found that employees’ perception of their fit with the job and the organization contributed significantly to their job satisfaction.

  • A study of low wage employees by Corporate Voices for Working Families found that worker engagement was 50 percent higher for those with flexibility and they were more likely than workers without flexibility to feel a stake in the organization.

  • A study of teleworkers and their supervisors found that employees performed better when the supervisor supported and showed concern for employees’ personal challenges and used them as a catalyst to improve the work process for the entire organization.

  • High performance work places were found in a study to spark employee feelings that they could balance work and life. Such workplaces, the authors explained, give employees a sense of control and self-efficacy, which spills over into their ability to manage their off-the-job lives and better balance the two roles.

  • According to research at Workplace Flexibility 2010, workers with access to flexible work schedules tend to have higher job satisfaction and appear more willing to work hard to help their employers succeed.

  • People committed to their jobs and organizations perform at a higher level than those who are not. A Corporate Leadership Council study concluded that every 10 percent improvement in employee commitment increases that person’s discretionary effort by 6 percent and performance by 2 percent.

  • Employee satisfaction has been found to contribute to customer retention and satisfaction.

  • Productivity increased by 31 percent for 7000 British Telecommunications workers who worked from home.

  • Chubb Insurance used a team approach to increase its flexibility and reported improvements in the number and efficiency of claims processed without any negative impact on quality.

  • A study of 1400 workers found 70 percent of managers and 87 percent of workers reporting flexible work arrangements had positive or very positive impact on productivity.

  • Employees are more likely to give extra effort—what’s called discretionary voluntary behavior—such as making improvement suggestions, attending non-required meetings, assisting others with job duties—when the work-life benefits offered by their employers are perceived to be useful.

  • Hourly workers in a large US retail store who were able to work the hours they prefer (to allow them to fit it better with their off-the-job commitments) were happier, less distracted, had more energy, better attitudes, and were excited about where they work. Their managers saw a clear connection between their customized schedules and their job performance metrics such as customer service, sales, and profits. As one manager said, “There is a direct correlation between happy employees and happy customers…if your employees are happy, they’ll take care of your customers.”

  • The authors of Womenomics found that blue chip companies (including KPMG, Microsoft, and Pfizer) offering some customization of hours were more competitive, productive and inhabited by employees who were less stressed and more committed to the company.