Job flexibility key to productivity and loyalty: study

People search for usable coal at a cinder dump site in Changzhi, Shanxi province March 5, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Job flexibility is the key to keeping workers happy, productive and loyal to the company, a new study shows.

Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, found that workers who enjoyed more work flexibility were also less likely to say health problems affected their performance at work.

“For managers, the results suggest that implementing flexible work arrangements can contribute to the bottom-line,” said Joseph Grzywacz, a professor of family medicine at the university.

Workplace flexibility refers to the ability of employees to modify where, when and how long work their work is performed.

Telecommuting, flexitime and job sharing were the main types of flexibility cited in the study published in the Psychologist-Manager journal.

The researchers studied a health survey completed by 3,193 employees of a large multinational pharmaceutical company. They used the information to determine how increases or decreases in perceived flexibility from one year to the next were associated with a variety of factors.

Decreases in flexibility over the year were associated with reduced job commitment, but had little impact on absence, they said.

Offering a variety of alternative work arrangements and training managers and supervisors to be supportive of workers’ personal lives may help in creating a culture of flexibility, researchers added..

Reporting by Julie Mollins; editing by Patricia Reaney