Increased productivity is often touted as the primary benefit of flexible work schedules. After all, less time driving – whether because employees work from home or because they opt to hit the road outside of rush hour – means more time on the job. But there’s another benefit forward-thinking companies realize: cost savings due to healthier employees.
Put frankly, sick employees cost companies money. According to the CDC, productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion per year. That’s $1,685 per employee.
What does that have to do with flexible work schedules? A survey of over 1,500 job seekers by FlexJobs found that people from all ages, careers and life stages consider flexible work options a priority. The reasons why are clear: First and foremost, job seekers want work-life balance. Health and exercise, and family reasons both came in second (although you could make the argument that these very reasons constitute work-life balance). Runners-up included time savings and reduced commute stress.
Flexible work schedules give employees the freedom to schedule their work day in a manner that best suits them. Perhaps that means cooking a balanced breakfast, dropping off the children at school or going for a run mid-day. All of that adds up to a better quality of life and healthier employees. What’s more, when companies deploy a video conferencing solution, employees can have the work-life integration they desire without sacrificing valuable face time with team members.
Granted, you can’t force your employees to exercise and eat well. But at the very least, flexible work schedules can mean avoiding rush hour and longer-than-necessary commute times – and that alone can have a significant impact on your employees’ health.
Reuters reports that workplace commutes cost employees “in driving-related expenses, in sheer number of hours on the road and in negative health outcomes… In fact, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which surveyed Americans about daily commutes and their effects, discovered a virtual horror show. They found the longer the commute, the higher the levels of one’s obesity, cholesterol, pain, fatigue and anxiety.”
Four of the 10 most expensive health conditions for U.S. employers are related to heart disease and stroke. Full-time workers in the U.S. who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health problems miss about 450 million more of work than healthy workers, costing more than $153 billion a year in lost productivity.
Offering flexible work schedules not only promotes a healthier lifestyle, it also reduces the chances of employees coming into work when they’re ill and exposing others. Employees can get the rest they need to recover more quickly while still participating in critical meetings. A video conferencing solution ensures that employees can collaborate as effectively as if they were in the office – but without any of the germs.
Not convinced yet? Consider this: The FlexJobs survey found that 22% of job seekers would be willing to forgo health benefits in exchange for flexible work schedules. We certainly don’t advocate dropping health benefits – but it does go to show the value employees place on the ability to work when and where they want. And when it comes down to the dollars and cents, companies have nothing to lose.