Employees who do not have an option to work flexibly are twice as likely to experience work-related stress than those with flexible workdays, a survey from VitalityHealth has revealed.
Britain’s Healthiest Workplace* – an annual survey developed by VitalityHealth and delivered in partnership with the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe, which studies the link between health risks and productivity – revealed that employees who do not have an opportunity to work from home or change their start/end time, lose the equivalent of four days** of productive working time per year due to ill-health related absence and presenteeism.
Additionally, the survey found a direct correlation between how we travel to work and stress. Employees with at least an hour-long commute each way were 10 percent more likely to develop work-related stress than individuals who commute less than half an hour each way. Meanwhile employees who work irregular hours are 50 percent more likely to be stressed than employees who have clearer structure to their days.
While many employers have started to adopt flexible working arrangements, simple work/life changes and increased training, Britain’s Healthiest Workplace has shown that driving employee engagement in these initiatives is critical. For instance, while 78.1 percent of employees engaging with time management training initiatives found it beneficial (suggesting that it may be driving a reduction in their levels of work-related stress and associated productivity loss), only 3 percent of employees actually participated in these types of initiatives.
Shaun Subel, Director of Corporate Wellness Strategy at VitalityHealth, commented: “The way we work and its effect on our work/life balance can have an adverse effect on our stress levels and productivity. Productivity levels are put under strain when certain work day structures have limited flexibility, impacting both on the individual and business at large.
“However, there are simple steps that employers can take to improve this. Providing initiatives such as flexible working arrangements or time management training can help employees to both structure their days more effectively, and access support to mitigate the impacts of work-related stress. By providing employees with the autonomy to determine their own work-life balance, they are able to find a way of working which best enables their personal wellbeing and productivity – for example, by avoiding a stressful commute, or allowing for family commitments. Whilst the changes are simple for many businesses to implement, the benefits reaped for both the employer and employee can be substantial.”