Workplace flexibility associated with reduced absences and improved job commitment

Workers who reported increased work flexibility from one year to the next also had fewer absences for illness and improved job commitment, according to new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. In addition, these workers were less likely to say that health problems affected their job performance.

The study’s results, based on a health survey completed by 3,193 employees of a large multinational pharmaceutical company, are reported in the current issue of the Psychologist-Manager Journal.

“This study provides evidence that flexibility is associated with health or well-being over time,” said Joseph G. Grzywacz, Ph.D., senior author and an associate professor of family medicine. “For managers, the results suggest that implementing flexible work arrangements can contribute to the bottom-line.”

The researchers analyzed data obtained from health risk appraisals to determine how increases or decreases in perceived flexibility from one year to the next were associated with a variety of factors. Workplace flexibility refers to workers’ ability to modify where, when and how long job-related work is performed. There are two main types of flexibility: location, such as telecommuting, and schedule, such as flextime and job sharing.

Results indicated that an increase in perceived flexibility was associated with a decrease in sickness absences and work-related impairment, and improved job commitment. Decreases in perceived flexibility over the year were associated with a significant increase in impairment and reduced job commitment, but had little impact on absence.

“These results strengthen the evidence suggesting that programs and policies that promote flexibility in the workplace may have beneficial health effects for workers,” said Grzywacz.

The authors said there are several ways to create a culture of flexibility:

-- Offer a variety of alternative work arrangements. The study’s results suggest that part-time, remote and flextime options may be especially useful in creating a culture of flexibility.

-- Training managers and supervisors to be supportive of workers’ lives outside the office.

Source: Wake Forest University

Explore further

New study examines breast cancer survivors' experiences managing cancer and work

Citation: Workplace flexibility associated with reduced absences and improved job commitment (2008, April 25) retrieved 24 August 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Apr 25, 2008
Ofc flexi-time will reduce the amount days staff are off due to sickness. Sometimes staff simply cannot work and if they have no leave available to take, then they will call in sick. Offering flexibility around working hours reduces the need to call in sick as the time can be given back some other time. Everyone wins with flexi.

Apr 25, 2008
But is there any correlation between how many 'sick days' a worker takes and their actual health? I would wager there is a stronger correlation between how happy a worker is with their job and sick days taken. If I hate my job I'm going to take every sick day I can, no matter how healthy I am.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more