The May 2008 issue of Community, Work & Family is devoted to articles by academic scholars and WFD practitioners on the impacts of workplace flexibility.* The authors use WFD’s database—one of the most extensive sources of information on work-life issues in the U.S., created from a decade of comprehensive studies inside organizations—and advanced statistical methods to investigate the effects of workplace flexibility. The powerful findings have implications for:

Achieving key business and employee outcomes…

  • HEALTH AND WELLNESS. Participating in a formal flexible work arrangement is associated with reduced stress and burnout.
  • EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT. Employees who report having the flexibility they need are more likely to report being engaged—and therefore more productive—at work. The link to higher engagement is true whether employees have a formal flexible work arrangement or use flexibility only occasionally.
  • WORK EFFECTIVENESS. As work hours increase, personal or family issues are more likely to interfere with work effectiveness. Having flexibility decreases the negative spillover from personal or family issues to work.
  • RETENTION. Employees who report having the flexibility they need say they plan to stay with their company longer than employees who do not have the flexibility they need. The link to retention is true whether employees have a formal flexible work arrangement or use flexibility only occasionally.

Maximizing the contributions of key talent segments in the workforce…

  • WOMEN. Men and women alike value and use flexibility and benefit from its positive effects, but women with children are especially likely to use and value flexibility.
  • THE MULTI-GENERATIONAL WORKFORCE. Providing employees with access to the flexibility they need provides managers with a tool to enhance the engagement of workers of all ages, younger and older alike.
  • NON-EXEMPT AND HOURLY WORKERS. When non-exempt employees have the flexibility they need, the positive, incremental effect on engagement and stress and burnout is even greater than for exempt workers.
  • PART-TIME EMPLOYEES. Part-time employees have the same level of engagement as full-time workers, but lower levels of stress and burnout.

The study team included WFD researchers/practitioners Amy Richman, EdD, Jan Civian, EdD, Laurie Shannon, PhD, and Arlene Johnson, MBA, in collaboration with academic work/life scholars E. Jeffrey Hill, PhD from Brigham Young University, Joseph Grzywacz, PhD from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, PhD from Boston College, and statistician Robert Brennan, EdD, of Harvard Medical School.

To receive reprints of the article(s), please complete the form below and select the box for the article(s) of interest. To learn more about WFD’s flexibility expertise click here. To learn more about the WFD Database, contact Jan Civian at

* We are grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for providing partial funding of this project.

Please complete the form below for access to the Community, Work & Family articles:

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Please indicate which articles you want to receive:

"The relationship of perceived flexibility, supportive work-life policies, and use of formal flexible arrangements and occasional flexibility to employee engagement and expected retention" by Amy Richman and colleagues on flexibility and the impacts on engagement and retention.

"Challenging common myths about workplace flexibility: Research notes from the multi-organization database" by Arlene Johnson and colleagues about common myths about workplace flexibility concerning part-time workers, non-exempt employees, and the compatibility of flexibility and business demands.

"Using a multi-organization database: Research methods, strengths, and limitations" by Jan Civian and colleagues about how the multi-company database was created and used.





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