Workplace Flexibility Has Positive Effect On Engagement and Motivation, Survey Says

Bloomberg Law for HR Professionals is a complete, one-stop resource, continuously updated, providing HR professionals with fast answers to a wide range of domestic and international human resources...

By Caryn Freeman  

Oct. 16 -- Despite reports of high-profile companies such as Yahoo, Best Buy and HP “reining in telework programs,” these programs and other flexible work options remain popular and have a positive effect on employee engagement, motivation and satisfaction, according to a survey released Oct. 15 by global human resources association WorldatWork.

WorldatWork's Survey on Workplace Flexibility 2013 found that while workplace flexibility programs are offered by fewer organizations in 2013 than in 2010, the changes in specific programs are relatively minor and may be attributed to organizations being more strategic about the programs offered to their workforce. The survey added that only 3 percent of employers have canceled telework programs over the past two years.

Works Best in 'Established Flexibility Culture.'

“Overall, the survey shows that employers are continuing to utilize workplace flexibility programs,” said Rose Stanley, WorldatWork practice leader for benefits, work-life, flexibility and recognition. “It appears to work best in those organizations where the concept of flexibility is part of the organization's culture and where employees feel free to request flexibility as needed.”

According to the survey, which features responses from 566 WorldatWork members, employers that scored themselves as having an “established flexibility culture” reported overwhelmingly that workplace flexibility has had a positive or extremely positive impact on engagement (85 percent), motivation (84 percent) and satisfaction (92 percent). Among all companies surveyed, WorldatWork also found that most believe their workforce would say there is a positive or extremely positive effect of flexibility programs on employee engagement (64 percent), employee motivation (65 percent) and employee satisfaction (73 percent).

Moreover, Stanley told Bloomberg BNA that flexible work schedules can reduce employee turnover. “A flexible culture creates a level of autonomy” and trust that increases employee satisfaction and engagement, she said in an Oct. 16 e-mail. “The business definitely benefits from that,” Stanley said, and employees enjoying flexible options are more likely “to stay and be loyal to the business.”

Still, Stanley noted that one area of flexibility not being embraced by employers is manager training. The survey found that only 17 percent of organizations with at least one flexibility program said they provide training to managers about how to successfully manage employees with flexible work arrangements.

“Training managers on anything is always viewed as a time-consuming effort,” Stanley told Bloomberg BNA, “and employers want to make sure that any training will be value-added.”

She said that “training works best when it has the effect of showing the manager how to use flexibility as a tool to fulfill the business goals and how to manage by results instead of face time.”

Most Employers Offer Telework

Telework is offered by 88 percent of organizations, the survey revealed. It found that some form of telework, flexible start and stop times and part-time schedules are the most prevalent flexibility programs offered--with each offered by more than 80 percent of employers.

The survey also found:

• job share, career on/off ramps and phased retirement remain the least prevalent flexible work programs offered by employers;

• exempt/salaried employees have the greatest flexibility, as seven of the 13 programs mentioned in the survey are offered to exempt/salaried employees by nearly all participating organizations (more than 94 percent);

• the most prevalent flexibility programs offered to nonexempt/hourly workers are part-time schedules (93 percent), phased return from leave (93 percent), shift flexibility (91 percent) and compressed workweeks (88 percent); and

• over two-thirds (69 percent) of organizations say that career progression or development opportunities are not impacted by an employee's use of flexibility.



To contact the reporter on this story: Caryn Freeman in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at

The survey can be found at

Request Bloomberg Law for HR Professionals