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.

When people can meet the demands of work and life, when they feel they have a fit between on-the-job responsibilities and off-the-job commitments, they are more satisfied with the job, have higher morale, lower stress, and more commitment to the organization. They are less likely to quit their jobs and look for greener pastures elsewhere. According to the recent Met-Life Survey, achieving this fit or balance between work and life demands is second only to on-the-job relationships in determining if a person stays with an employer. Customized work options—including work schedules, career paths, job sharing, time off and results-only performance measures—promoted employee retention in numerous studies.

  • In a study of 614 companies, flexibility outranked above-market salaries, stock options, and training as the most important retention tool.

  • USAA cut their turnover rate by half after instituting a compressed workweek.

  • Cigna retained five hundred managers and professions as a result of their job share and part-time employment options. Corning reduced turnover by 50 percent among its manufacturing workers with these options.

  • Work redesign at Fleet Financial Group intended to accommodate job and personal responsibilities reduced turnover in the trial group where it was implemented; flextime and telecommuting also reduced turnover.

  • Managers at Amway, Briston-Meyers Squibb, Honeywell, Kraft, Lucent Technologies, and Motorola reported that telecommuting and flexible work options enhanced retention.

  • A study of employees who have access to flexible work arrangements found them less likely to leave their current employers for at least a year; low wage workers were 30 percent less likely to leave their employer within two years than workers who had no flexibility.

  • Corporate Voices for Working Families reports that companies offering flexible work options improve retention: 80 percent of one large firm’s work force said being able to balance work and home affected their career choice and desire to stay with the company.

  • Costco has a turnover rate that is one-third of the industry average; it counts flexibility as a key reason it retains its employees better than rival Sam’s Club.

  • Employees are willing to give extra effort to employers who offer extra benefits. When an employer is supportive of work-life integration needs, employees give back to the business by being loyal and working harder. Employees feel there is mutual obligation.

  • Women are more likely to stay with an employer after having a child when they feel their employer is responsive to their work-family needs.

  • Highly accommodating workplaces—including those offering paid and upaid maternity leave—raise the likelihood of women returning to full-time work within a year after childbirth and to the same employer.

  • Employees are more inclined to stay with an employer when they are satisfied with their stress level and work-life integration; they are also more likely to recommend their organization as a place to work.

  • Managers in a study of retail workers reported that allowing employees to deviate from the customary working hours of 8 to 4 or 2 to 10 created a culture of valuing the employee, even when she or he had off-the-job responsibilities. This, in turn, made for stronger employee loyalty and job commitment and boosted retention.

  • Most employees who experience a high level of supervisor support for managing work-life priorities are far more likely to remain with their employer in the subsequent year (versus only less than half of those who experience low levels of support), according to a study by the Business and Professional Women’s foundation.

  • Employees prefer to remain in organizations when they feel they have a trusting manager and one who pays attention to their aspirations, quality of work life, and career goals.

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that paid parental leave and extending unpaid parental leave cut the resignation rates of new mothers and enhanced retention.

  • Child care subsidies, work-site child care, and other child care benefits enhanced retention among workers studied in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, banking, and hospitals.

  • A national study found that organizational loyalty for men and women across different life stages was correlated with flex time work arrangements.