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Photo by Tim Gouw
the joy of flex

Study: Inflexible jobs can make workers miserable

And giving staff more flexibility makes them less likely to quit, the study found.

AS THE OLD saying goes, “If you can’t be flexible in life, you become irritable with life.”

Now more than ever workers want flexibility. We want to be able to work in an environment that makes us feel comfortable. We want to be able to escape the 9-5 and decide our own working hours. When it boils down to it what we really want is to be in control.

A new study released by the University of Michigan has found that inflexible jobs can make both men and women miserable.

The research found that when employees think their careers will suffer if they take time away from work, they have lower work satisfaction and experience more work-life spillover. They are also much more likely to quit.

Clearly, this is something that managers and employers need to take on board if they want to attract and retain the best staff.

Despite the fact that most workers wanted flexibility, nearly 40% of respondents felt that workers at their jobs were unlikely to get ahead at work when they ask for time off.

The study also uncovered what it called a “flexibility bias”. They found that people typically think only women and mums experience work-family issues and need flexible work arrangements, like part-time work, or job sharing.

However inflexibility impacts all genders says Lindsey Trimble O’Connor, lead author and assistant professor of sociology at California State University Channel Islands.

This flexibility bias leaves workers with little control over their schedule. They may also feel unsupported by their company or unhappy knowing that their company might be discriminating against those balancing work with personal responsibilities.

What can employers do about it? Well, it’s clear that is simply not enough to put a work-life policy in place. If employers want to instigate real change then they will need to work on building an open and honest culture that does not penalise staff members for having a life outside of work.

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