28th Aug, 2020 Read time 4 minutes

How flexible working arrangements can help to improve staff mental health

It is often said that culture is king, and the result of this is that it can have a big impact on the mental health of employees within a workplace. However, culture is something that can only be developed over time with very conscious and meaningful actions that build towards your view of what the company should be. One way that modern companies are trying to improve their working culture is through offering flexible hours.

The degree to which a business can offer flexible working time is determined by the industry they operate in; a standard office, for example, will be able to be much more flexible than a construction site whose hours are very much determined by the number of light hours in a day.  One of the reasons many are introducing ‘flexi-time’ is to try and improve the mental health of their workers, but how exactly does this work?

How flexible working helps businesses and employees

Flexible working hours allow workers to take time for themselves

If a worker is struggling mentally for whatever reason then having the burden of coming into work could make matters worse in the long run. However if they could select the order of the hours they work, they can tailor it to give them a break when one is completely necessary. This flexibility has been shown to help with employee mental health as well as increase productivity.


Flexible working improves productivity, which makes workers feel more fulfilled

The increased productivity that is often seen as a result of flexible working hours is good in two ways. Firstly it improves the efficiency of your business. Secondly, it can help workers to feel more fulfilled in the work that they do. If people go home from work in a better state than they came in, feeling like they accomplished a lot this can really only have positive impacts on their mental health. Giving people added flexibility also gives workers the chance to exercise and get out of the house or office. Longer lunches and breaks will encourage workers to go for walks, take a trip out paddleboarding and get additional exercise.


Emergencies can be managed with flexible working hours

We all have family emergencies and our home life often gets in the way of our working life. Most employers will understand when the time has to be taken for personal reasons however when it becomes a recurrent problem this can lead to some awkward questions. This is where flexible working hours can help. If for example, your child is ill or needs to attend school later for whatever reason, knowing that you have the flexibility to work around it can be great for managing mental health.


Stress-related issues fall when flexi-time is introduced

Stress is often touted as one of the top causes of poor mental health within the workplace. And whilst it can be difficult to manage, having greater autonomy over the hours that you work can help you better manage stressful situations. This is good for the business and the individual.


Flexibility offers employees rewards, and they are more likely to stay

When deciding on a place to work, flexibility ranks high on the list of priorities for a large percentage of the population. This is due to the increasing demands of life outside of work. Research also suggests that employes are more likely to stay at a company if that company offers flexibility in the hours that they can work. This higher retention is good for the mental health of employees who feel more comfortable over time and internal recruiters who have to focus less on bringing in new staff at a higher cost.

In addition to higher staff retention rates, offering employees flexibility is also a good way to reward positive effort. Research has suggested that many workers priorities flexible working hours over career progression and compensation. This is good as offering employees rewards for their positive work-related performance has been shown to increase the mental health of staff.


Consider adopting flexible hours to the extent your business can afford to do so

Whilst for many companies having highly flexible hours is not feasible, introducing it in some form, even if it is only autonomy over taking an hour or half-hour for lunch can have a big difference. Working autonomy helps to empower workers which is great for both business productivity and employee mental health. Our article on ergonomics details how you can further optimize your workplace from both a physical and mental health perspective.

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