Could workplace flexibility improve job satisfaction?
A year-long research study within the information technology (IT) division of a Fortune 500 company found that “high-tech” workers who participated in a work flexibility program experienced higher levels of job satisfaction.
Researchers also found that levels of burnout and psychological stress were reduced compared to those in the control group that did not participate in the program. Professors Phyllis Moen from the University of Minnesota and Erin Kelly from the MIT Sloan School of Management enrolled half of the IT employees into a pilot program where they learned about work practices designed to increase their sense of control over their work lives.
Employees implemented a variety of practices, including shifting work schedules, rethinking the number of daily meetings they attended and increasing communication via instant messenger. Their managers were also given training on how to support their direct reports in these changes.
“This study supports previous research that suggests when employees have a say in decisions about their work lives, they tend to have better morale, be more productive, feel less stressed and feel valued,” says Dr. Judy Ronan Woodburn, psychologist with Advocate Medical Group in Normal, Ill.
Experts agree that finding the right balance can help with morale and the well-being of the employees.
“It is an organization’s responsibility to help strike the right balance, so that the individual can perform at the highest level, and contribute to the overall success of the organization,” says Tony Coletta, vice-president of human resources at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital. “Our associates are unquestionably our most valuable resource, and we support our associates’ health and well-being, financial, and personal goals. Leaders are empowered to work through process issues to help find the right balance for the individual and the organization.”
This study adds to a number of others that emphasize the importance of organizational initiatives aimed at increasing employee engagement.
“Certainly, when an employer allows employees to have flexibility, employees are empowered with more options for managing their lives effectively, and both the employer and employee can benefit,” Dr. Woodburn says.
About the Author
Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.