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How flexible working supports employee engagement and well-being

Flexible working has been shown to improve employee engagement and well-being, in a variety of ways. So employers who want happier, healthier, more motivated staff need to take it seriously.

Employee wellbeing

It’s increasingly understood that employers who take proper care of their employees don’t just get a warm feeling inside. The impact of positive well-being and engagement, on the individual and their performance, is no longer in any doubt. And flexible working has a huge part to play in making this happen.

To start with, it has been shown to support general mental and physical well-being, in a number of ways:

  • Having a positive work-life balance makes life less stressful and can reduce illness
  • Reducing the commute by working from home frees up time, energy and headspace
  • Being able to work when, where and how they want increases employees’ sense of control
  • Freeing up time for exercise can support physical wellness and stamina

And here are some more specific examples of the positive impact it can have on employees:

Support with other responsibilities

For parents of small children, and people looking after an elderly relative, being able to flex around medical appointments, school runs and other logistical issues makes being a carer easier to manage.

Career development and job satisfaction

When senior level flexible roles are made available, people who need to work flexibly are able to progress their careers, making best use of their skills and improving their job satisfaction.

Enhanced concentration and productivity

In a Cranfield University[1] survey of flexible workers, 97% of managers said their quantity of work improved or stayed the same and 93% said their quality of the work improved or stayed the same. Achieving more within a flexible framework is likely to lead to increased job satisfaction.

Improved motivation and happiness at work

All of the above make it more likely that flexible workers will be more motivated and happier. According to Dr Mark Winwood, a clinical director of psychological services, “The more control any of us feel we have over our working lives, the better we feel about work.”

It’s for all of these reasons that the demand for flexibility is at an all-time high. Our own research has indicated that 87% of employees either work flexibly already, or wish they could. And according to a survey by the Centre for the Modern Family, 23% of UK workers would be willing to take a pay cut in order to have more flexible working hours.

So if you want to recruit and retain healthy, motivated and productive employees, focusing on flexibility is a great way to start.

Published December 2018

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