Flexible working has positive impact on UK workers

May 2nd 2008

A positive relationship between flexible working practices and employee performance is a key finding of a significant new piece of research which was launched at the “Measuring Up–The Impact of Flexible Working Practices on Performance,” a major conference taking place in London held on the 30 April 2008.

Flexible Working and Performance is the result of a two-year research project by Cranfield School of Management in collaboration with Working Families.  Seven major blue-chip companies, from a range of sectors, participated in the research.  The report demonstrates that flexible working can be a win-win option for employers and employees.

As the availability and types of flexible work continue to increase, there is a greater need to know exactly how such working practices affect the organisation with regard to performance of individuals, and the impact on colleagues and managers.

Key findings of the report include:

- The majority of flexible workers, co-workers of flexible workers and managers of flexible workers reported that there was either a positive impact or no impact on individual performance.  This was true for both quantity of work produced, and quality of work produced.

- The majority of employees reported that flexible working had a positive effect in reducing and managing stress levels.  However, there was evidence to suggest that for some individuals flexible working itself could become a source of work stress. 

- Significant positive relationships were found when comparing those who work flexibly with other employees.  Flexible workers were found to have higher levels of organisational commitment, and in some cases they also had higher levels of job satisfaction.  In addition, the availability of flexible working was a key competitive strategy within the labour market. 

- There was a high degree of informal flexible working across the organisations. 

Report co-author and Senior Lecturer in Strategic Human Resource Management from Cranfield School of Management, Dr Clare Kelliher, said:   "These findings are important because they show both performance-related and longer term benefits from flexible working.  However flexible working should not be seen as an add-on activity.  Other HR policies may need to be adjusted in order to ensure they support flexible working."

Working Families Chief Executive Sarah Jackson OBE said: “The key findings of this rigorous two year research project strengthen the business case for flexible working.   The research involving seven blue chip companies shows that flexibility has a positive effect on the quality and quantity of work and on employee commitment.  It is also clear that flexible working works best where it is available to all employees”.

Seven leading companies took part in the research.  These were:  Centrica Citi KPMG Lehman Brothers Microsoft Pfizer and the Defence Aerospace business of Rolls-Royce.


For more information on the conference, please go to: www.workingfamilies.org.uk/asp/employer_zone/e_seminars.asp

Working Families is the UK’s leading work-life balance campaign organisation. It supports and gives a voice to working parents and carers, whilst also helping employers create workplaces which encourage work-life balance for everyone.

Cranfield School of Management is one of Europe’s leading university management schools renowned for its strong links with industry and business. It is committed to providing practical management solutions through a range of activities including postgraduate degree programmes, management development, research and consultancy.  http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/

 Posted by, Asif Yusuf


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