How can leaders foster employee well-being through workplace flexibility?

Term Paper 2015 23 Pages

Business economics - Business Management, Corporate Governance


Table of Content

List of Figures

List of Tables

1. Abstract

2. Introduction

3. Main part
3.1. Reaching employee well-being through workplace flexibility
3.2. How organizations benefit from employee well-being
3.3. Why employees are looking for flexible working
3.4. Where employers can request flexible working by law - the UK
3.5. How can employers and leaders enable flexible working?
3.6. Downsides of working flexibility

4. Discussion

5. Conclusion


List of Figures

Figure 1: Top barriers to establishing flexible work options in percentages 12

List of Tables

Table 1: Examples of the relationship between healthy workplace practices, employee well-being and organizational improvements

*To ease the reading of the text the masculine form (e.g. of worker, employer) is used. Of course this text also refers to the feminine form.

1. Abstract

Organizations all over the world have discovered that employee well-being is crucial for the success of their business and the trend towards a healthy workplace is also nudged by a new, demanding generation of employees entering the workforce, millennials. While various actions and programs can facilitate employee well-being, the focus of this seminar paper lies on a particular facet of work/life balance, namely workplace flexibility. In the following, it points out the benefits of flexible working possibilities for both workers and organizations, explains how leaders can foster well-being through workplace flexibility and also takes challenges and downsides that may emerge into account.

2. Introduction

A healthy workplace has been identified as crucial to both meet the company’s objectives for profitability and productivity and integrate the needs and goals of its employees (Sauter, Lim, & Murphey, 1996, p. 250).

The idea of a healthy workplace has developed a lot throughout the past decades: To establish a higher job satisfaction, companies in the 1940’s began to invite their employees for picnics and trips. In the 70’S employers started offering fitness programs to their workers and by today maximizing employee well-being has become the goal of many companies worldwide (Robin, 2003). Almost 90 percent of companies employing 50 or more workers provide some sort of health promoting program (Áldana, 2001).

As an average adult spends almost a third of his life at work and job satisfaction is estimated to account for up to a quarter of life satisfaction, it is not surprising that companies foster the development, implementation and monitoring of health promotion programs and hereby invest a lot of time and resources (Harter, Schmidt, & Keyes, 2003).

Research on how to achieve outstanding employee well-being is therefore of great importance and practical relevance. To obtain employee well-being, five main categories (among others) of organizational practices have been identified in literature: work/life balance, employee growth and development, health and safety, recognition, and employee involvement. (Grawitch, Gottschalk, & Münz, 2006, p. 129)

The focus of this seminar paper lies on the category of work/life balance, in more detail on flexible working possibilities and their effects on employee well-being. It sheds light on different fomis of flexible working and their impact, may it be positive or negative.

Flexibility can be a component of an ideal job for many employees. With the technical advancements given today, working remotely is as easy as never before and opens new ways of working. Additionally, the so called “Generation Y” has entered the boardroom and by 2025 will account for 75 percent of the global workforce. Also referred to as millennials, Generation Y employees are bom in the 1980s and early 1990s and have entered the workplace after 2000. They are tech-savvy, creative, visionary, not afraid to speak their mind and change the work environment drastically. More than any other generation before, millennials are in search of meaning.

According to a study conducted by Deloitte, three out of five say that a “sense of purpose” affects their choice of employer and 50 percent are of the opinion, that companies have a responsibility to enable a good work/life balance. And more than any other generation before, these young people are looking for an employer that respects, considers and fosters their well-being. (McLoughlin, 2007)

Working flexibility can be one option for employers to remain attractive for the new generation of workers and ensure job satisfaction in general. The more control employees sense to have over their working life, the better they feel about their job. Flexible working possibilities enable employees to shape their working life according to their needs and duties and give leaders a lever to help relieve stress. (Paterson, 2014)

This seminar paper elaborates on how leaders can foster employee well-being through workplace flexibility and how they can deal with the challenges involved.

3. Main part

3.1. Reaching employee well-being through workplace flexibility

Before elaborating the effects of workplace flexibility on employee well-being it is necessary to define the temis shortly.

(Aliin, 2007) describes well-being as folioพS: “Well-being is a positive physical, social and mental state and not just an absence of pain, discomfort and incapacity.” Everything an individual experiences at work, may it be physical, emotional or social affects the person and has to be taken into account by employers.

The boarders between work and personal life are blurring out more and more, which also means that stress at the workplace is transferred to the employees’ everyday life, leading to constant physical and mental demands placed on the human body and soul (Griffin & Danna, 1999, p. 358). This also influences quality of work and absences days because of poor health and well-being, followed by diminishing overall contributions to the organization. According to the European Union (EU) sick leaves and long term disability cases based on work-related stress and mental health problems are rising (Hassard, 2011) and between 50 and 60 percent of all lost working days are related to stress in Europe (Ryan, 2005). However more than just trying to prevent the negative outcomes of poor health, organizations should focus on achieving positive health outcomes for their employees (Grawitch, Gottschalk, & Münz, 2006).

This seminar paper will shed light on one of the measurement that can help to achieve employee well-being, so called workplace flexibility. According to (Hill, et al., 2008, p. 152) it can be seen as: “The ability of workers to make choices influencing when, where, and for how long they engage in work-related tasks.”

Hereby the term workplace flexibility is used as an umbrella-term to describe many different styles of working, for example the commonly known model of part-time hours. Job sharing on the other hand describes a program, in which two people share one position and the working time that comes with it. Compressed hours describe the possibility to compress a 40-hour week not into five but four days, by extending the hours for each work day. Flex-time centers on core hours, for example 10am to 3pm, where staff should be present, allowing them to schedule the rest of their working time independently with either early or late beginning or ending of the workday.

Another form of flexible working is enabled by internet and telecommunication progress: working from home or telecommuting. A program which allows employees to work a portion of their normally scheduled work hours from a remote location or their homes. (McNamara, Pitt-Catsouphes, Brown, & Matz-Costa, 2012)

While all these terms describe different ways of working, the common theme they share is the choice offered to employees regarding the way in which they work (Kelliher & Anderson, 2008, p. 420).

3.2. How organizations benefit from employee well-being

The goal of nearly every organization is to minimize costs, maximize profits and attract the best workers. By offering flexible working possibilities, employers can show their workers, that they care about their lives outside of the workday. Handing some control over to the employees, for example about when and how they work, gives them freedom and a sense of trust. Studies show that workers reciprocate the support given by the employers. When they enjoy their job and sense that the company is caring about them and their families, their quality of work, productivity and commitment increases and workers are more loyal towards their company. (One Million for Work Flexibility, 2014)

Research by (Scandura, 1997) demonstrated that the existence of work/life programs, such as the offering of flextime, is positively related to organizational commitment and job satisfaction (see table 1).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 1. Examples of the relationship between healthy workplace practices, employee well-being and organizational improvements

Moreover, healthy workplace programs and activities can help to cut down health care costs and assist in the attraction, acquisition, and retention of employees. With flexible working possibilities, organizations can meet the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce and reduce absence days. (Grawitch, Gottschalk, & Münz, 2006, p. 130)

Organizations implement certain policies and programs also for symbolic reasons. Through frankly caring for employee well-being, they can position themselves as an attractive employer, improve the company image and compare favorably with peers (Powell & DiMaggio, 1991). This is especially important when trying to attract a younger workforce which sets value on a good work/life balance.

3.3. Why employees are looking for flexible working

A study by Batten & Company furthermore underpins the importance of flexibility for overall work satisfaction: 85 percent of employees find a good work/life balance important, 79 percent wish for flexible working time models and another 85 percent want to be able to schedule their working time (Batten & Company, 2015).

Employees are looking for flexible working possibilities for various reasons. The most prominent one is family-work balance. Childcare, caring for relatives, but also spending some quality time with family members can be eased by flexible working arrangements and benefits both employee and employer. (Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, 2015)

In a census by TNS Infratest Sozialforschung almost 60 percent of employees indicated that they were lacking time for their family because of work within the last three months (TNS Infratest Sozialforschung, 2012). Especially for women, flexibility at work can reduce work-family conflicts significantly (Carlson,

Grzywacz, & Kacmar, 2010) and is related to greater job and family satisfaction and hence greater overall life satisfaction (Lapierre, 2008).

Employees might however have other responsibilities and needs than family management in their personal lives. Meeting friends, doing sports, cultivating additional skills like learning a new language or just relaxing - a sufficient work/life balance enables individual well-being and provides the employee with sufficient time and energy to engage in activities that promote personal growth and enrichment. Taking the cycle of work and recovery into consideration is crucial for protecting employee health and well-being and preserving working capabilities, (van Hooff, Geurts, Beckers, & Kompier, 2011, p. 56)

Furthermore, not everyone fits in the nine-to-five pattern. Individual body clocks request individual working hours and hence adjusting them can improve employee productivity (Paterson, 2014).



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
491 KB
Catalog Number
Institution / College
Technical University of Munich – TUM School of Management
Leadership Strategy Marketing Health Workplace flexibility telework working from home employee



Title: How can leaders foster employee well-being through workplace flexibility?