Flex Jobs Pay Off for Most Employers Credit: Pencil tied in knot via Shutterstock

Having some flexibility in their work schedules is making many employees more productive, new research shows.

A study by human resources association WorldatWork revealed that despite a slight drop in the number of employers offering it, workplace flexibility is having a positive effect on keeping employees focused, motivated and happy.

Specifically, 64 percent of respondents said flexibility has improved employee engagement, while 65 percent think it has boosted employee motivation. The employers surveyed were given the option of choosing more than one benefit of workplace flexibility. In addition, nearly three-quarters of those that offer flexibility programs believe it has helped improve employee satisfaction.

The research also shows that telecommuting isn't hurting employees' chances of moving up in their organization, with nearly 70 percent of employers sayingthat career progression or development opportunities are not impacted by an employee's use of flexibility.

"It appears to work best in those organizations where the concept of flexibility is part of the organization's culture and where employees feel free to request flexibility as needed," said Rose Stanley, WorldatWork practice leader for benefits, work-life, flexibility and recognition.

Overall, teleworking, flex time and part-time schedules — the three most popular flexibility programs — are each offered to some or all employees in more than 80 percent of companies. Telecommuting, either full-time or on a part-time basis, is the most prevalent option, offered by nearly 90 percent of employers.

"Despite news reports focused on high-profile companies such as Yahoo, Best Buy and HP reining in telework programs, the data from this report shows that only 3 percent of companies have actually canceled telework programs over the past two years," Stanley said.

The study found that training on how to best use flexibility programs is still a rarity for most managers and employees. Less than 20 percent of employers with at least one flexibility program provide training to managers about how to successfully manage employees with flexible work arrangements.

"The survey highlights that while many organizations are utilizing one or more flexibility programs, significant improvements still need to be made in terms of training managers who supervise employees with flexible work arrangements," Stanley said.

The research was based on surveys of more than 550 employers worldwide.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.