When Work Works is a nationwide initiative sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Their research reveals that,
“When flexibility is used as a tool to help both business and employees, both can win.
Working flexibly enhances employee’s effectiveness, engagement and
commitment on the job, and improves employee’s well-being.”
Workplace flexibility is the key driver of retention for many women and an increasing number of men. The use of flexible arrangements can give employees control over how they manage competing responsibilities, thereby reducing their stress levels. Reduced stress results in healthier workers and families; businesses benefit from increased productivity and lower health care costs.
Workplace flexibility holds the promise of facilitating the way to an ideal work environment for all employees, characterized by:
- High levels of inclusion
- Quick and efficient decision making
- Short cycle times
- High levels of engagement and empowerment
- Flexible leadership and management practices
- High-performance teams and individual contributors who work well from anywhere in response to real-time and rapidly changing demands.
The Business Case for Flexibility
If your company does not have much experience or a track record of success with implementing flexible options, you may have to prove the business case for flexibility. There are several written documents that help to build a Business Case for Flexibility. However, the best case for your organization should be built to tie into the unique goals and objectives of your business. Boston College provides helpful guidance in How to Build the Business Case for Flexibility.
Business Impacts of Flexibility: An Imperative for Expansion details the weight of evidence companies themselves have collected about the positive business impacts of flexibility. This report is a product of Corporate Voices for Working Families, a non-profit coalition of companies committed to issues affecting working families. It was researched and written by WFD Consulting with financial support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Baxter International.
Workplace Flexibility 2010 provides insight on its Flexible Workplace Arrangements page and in The Business Case For Flexible Work Arrangements.
We-Inc (2005) provides an outline of some valuable summary points presented with a humorous approach.
Benefits of Flexibility
Many consider the business case for flexibility proven. The data are undeniable in terms of the benefits and have been documented in a variety of studies. Here is a sampling:
Workplace Flexibility Increases:
- Best Buy’s "Results Only Work Environment," allowing employees to "work when and where they like, as long as they get the job done," resulted in a 35% increase in productivity. (Time Magazine, 7/25/05; Business Week 12/11/06)
- In a two-year study of 1,400 workers, 70 percent of managers and 87 percent of employees reported that workplace flexibility increased productivity. A 2002 Watson Wyatt study found a 3.5 percent rise in shareholder returns resulting from flexible work.
- In a 2007 survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Deloitte and Touche USA, over half of workers (55 percent) ranked a flexible work schedule among the top three factors leading to job satisfaction, second only to compensation (63 percent). (PRNewswire –April 17, 2007)
- Sixty-six percent of employees report high levels of job satisfaction in organizations with high levels of workplace flexibility, versus 23 percent in organizations with low levels of flexibility. (Families and Work Institute, 2004)
- Internal organizational studies have established that employees who have even a small measure of flexibility have significantly greater job satisfaction, stronger commitment to the job and higher levels of engagement with the company, as well as lower stress levels. (Corporate Voices for Working Families, 2005)
Employees with access to flexible work schedules tend to have higher job satisfaction and appear more willing to work hard to help their employers succeed. (Workplace Flexibility 2010 Fact Sheet
- BT's mobility capabilities have enabled approximately 70,000 of its own employees (70% of its global workforce) to work flexibly from anywhere. Through flexible working, BT has enables over 90% of its female workforce to return to work after maternity leave, compared with the average of 47% for most companies.
- Seventy-two percent of employees plan to remain with their employers for the next year in organizations with high levels of workplace flexibility, versus 49% in organizations with low levels of flexibility. (Families and Work Institute, 2004)
A poll of 1,100 mothers by job site Workingmums.co.uk, found that 73% believed the lack of appropriate flexible work was the biggest barrier to returning to work.
Internal organizational studies have established that employees who have even a small measure of flexibility have significantly greater job satisfaction, stronger commitment to the job and higher levels of engagement with the company, as well as lower stress levels. (Corporate Voices for Working Families, 2005)
Research conducted by Watson Wyatt of 7,500 workers in all job levels and all major industries showed that firms with highly committed employees had a 112-percent return to shareholders over three years, compared to a 76-percent return for firms with low employee commitment and a 90-percent return for firms with average commitment. (Watson Wyatt Worldwide, 1999)
- Having access to the flexibility needed to fulfill work and personal needs was found to be predictive of greater employee engagement, lower perceptions of work overload, better physical health and mental health, and greater satisfaction with work-family balance. (Sloan Center on Aging and Work 2009)
- A developing interest among workplace practitioners, policy-makers, and researchers is to better understand the linkages between work environments and a range of health conditions. Evolving literature suggests that workplace flexibility can contribute to improved worker, family, and community health outcomes, as well as to reduced employer health-related costs. This topic page explores the relationship between workplace flexibility and health outcomes, as well as overall employee well-being. Last Updated: May 2009 (Employee Health and Workplace Flexibility Sloan Work and Family Research Network)
- Overwork is associated with higher levels of mistakes at work, elevated levels of anger, and poorer health outcomes including stress and depression. (Families and Work Institute)
Workplace Flexibility Reduces:
- "Having flexibility enabled Deloitte & Touche to avoid an estimated $27 million in turnover costs during fiscal 2003." (AWLP-Fortune Magazine Special Section)
- Hill, et al clearly demonstrate that workplace flexibility (namely working from home and schedule flexibility) is of benefit to individuals and businesses around the world because it reduces work/life conflict and enables employees to work longer before experiencing work/life difficulty. (2007 International Business Machines (IBM) Global Work and Life Issues Survey)
- Fifty-seven percent of employees exhibit high levels of mental health in organizations with medium or high levels of workplace flexibility, versus 17 percent in organizations with low levels of flexibility. (Families and Work Institute, 2004)
- Bristol-Myers Squibb employees who use flexible work arrangements score 30 percent lower in stress and burnout than those employees who do not. (Corporate Voices for Working Families, 2005)
- IBM employees who have flexibility report less work-life stress than employees without it. (Corporate Voices for Working Families, 2005)
- Stress is costing U.S. employers about $300 billion per year in lost productivity, health-care and replacement costs. (American Institute of Stress, 2008)
- Telecommute programs translate into real savings in rent and building costs: McKesson Medical Health Solutions-$4M/year; IBM-$100M/year; RSM McGladery-$200k per office x 120 offices. (Center for Competitive Management webcast)