Human Resources News & Insights

Study reveals surprising way to improve employee health

Here’s a health plan cost control measure you may not have thought about:

Give employees more control over their work schedule.

A systematic review of 10 studies by The Cochrane Collaboration assessed the health effects of various work arrangements — and found that employees who have more control over their schedules see improvements in both physical and mental health, which lead to fewer medical claims.

Overall, the research found that workers with flexible work schedules:

  • have fewer incidences of high blood pressure
  • sleep better
  • have better mental health, and
  • are more alert than those working more rigid schedules.

Do you think creating more flexible schedules would improve employee health? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  • John

    Flexibility and freedom are great for your health. Too bad the National Democratic Party doesn’t believe that.

  • Angel M

    It’s amazing how just coming in one hour later improves morale. Too bad many employers care more about face time.

  • I don’t agree that it would improve employees health, the old saying you give an inch and they take a mile. People need guide lines to go by and if they can’t make it to work on time then all that shows me is that they don’t manage there time right.

  • Lori

    Our workforce consists of a majority of sales /commissioned employees who work their own schedules anyway, but the operations crew is on a very flexible schedule and I have yet to see people take advantage of it. It is a pleasure to come to work when you know that you are not being micro managed. Corporate American just has too many rules and regulations that are systematically followed by lower management but upper management seems to beleive they are exempt from the same rules. It just creates more stress in the workforce. Too bad that flexiblity cannot be incorporated in more businesses, I think management would find it to be a definite stress releiver and make employees more receptive and eager to work harder.

  • Kim

    I think that letting employees choose their hours is great. As long as they get their job done and meet the 40 hours it should not matter. If that is not happening, take action on it!!

  • Caryn

    I completely agree with this; personally I try to get up early and run in the a.m. before work, and sometimes its a little harder to get up than others. Which translates to sometimes I’m at my desk by 8:00 and sometimes its closer to 8:30. But without that flexibility, I might just hit the snooze or not even try to get in a run. Treat employees as adults and give them responsibility for themselves and most will generally be thankful and act as responsible adults. The few that don’t, you deal with each individual on an individual basis.

  • Bonnie

    That would be great. I would love not having to tell my boss that I have a doctor appt or want to take a longer lunch one day. It would be powering to be an adult at work.

  • Sher

    This is one of the best ideas our company has put in place – for all reason’s stated above. Knowing I have the flexibility to plan the necessary working hours ahead for appointments or trips makes life a little easier.

  • Jim

    How do you manage a manufacturing line when everyone comes in whenever they want to? In somewhat related news, the Germans just told the Greeks to get up earlier and go to work in order to get out of debt. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/mar/05/bild-open-letter-greece-papandreou

  • My company has an onsite workout facility. All employees are encouraged to make time during the day to work out. We have yet to see this privilege abused. In addition to the health benefits, we also see employees coming in earlier than their expected start times and staying much later than the usual office hours.

  • LMSCH

    I believe that flex-time is a great idea as long as there is staffing for core hours of business time; say 8-4:30 or 9-5. If an employee wants to work from 7:30 to 4:00 that would be fine as long as there is staff there for the core business hours. If you have a sales department of two employees, that would be OK as long as one or the other was there. I’m sure there’d be mental benefits to arriving at your own time and possibly some physical.

  • Lorie

    Jim: I agree with you. Flexibility doesn’t work in certain settings. Manufacturing cannot meet its production goals if people are coming in and out whenever they want. Someone has to be here to run the machinery. If machinery is shut down due to scheduling, we lose money, on-time delivery and ultimately customers, not to mention quality issues. although some flexibility is inherent for salaried personnel, our CEO does not really condone flexible hours for office staff because he thinks it’s unfair to the line workers who must be on shift.

    It’s a great idea if your work environment can support it.

  • Lisa

    I work in local government. Flexible hours would be viewed as a waste of tax payers’ money. You don’t want your police officers showing up for their shifts whenever they want or leaving in the middle of chasing down a criminal. Or firefighters leaving while your house is burning. It unfortunately doesn’t work in all situations.