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Sloan Center News

New Sloan Center on Aging & Work Web Resource Defines, Illustrates Benefits of Flexibility in the US

7 December 2010—The availability of flexible work arrangements is affecting "the well-being of our families and the success of our businesses," according to President Obama. In March of this year, at the first ever White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, the President referred to the strategic potential of flexibility—that flexibility could potentially contributing to the nation's economic recovery and further development.

As a follow up to the White House Forum, business and academic leaders convened again in Washington on November 29-30, 2010, to discuss the need for workplace flexibility, the consequences of not incorporating flexibility, and innovative employer responses. The meeting of experts, held at Georgetown Law, was intended to strengthen existing partnerships, accelerate the process of making workplace flexibility a standard of the American workplace, and highlight the pioneering contributions of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation´s program on Workplace, Work Force and Working Families.

Concurrent with the convening, the Sloan Center on Aging & Work launched a new web resource dedicated to defining workplace flexibility. The website, aptly titled "What is Workplace Flexibility," combines a broad understanding of workplace flexibility with compelling examples of successful outcomes from flexible work arrangements implemented by American business leaders.

The site provides both discussions of how employees, businesses, and society as a whole can benefit from flexible work arrangements. Among reasons why employers need workplace flexibility include:

  • enhanced recruitment
  • improved performance & productivity
  • increased retention & reduced turnover
  • positive impact on employee commitment & engagement
  • better customer coverage & customer satisfaction
  • increased job satisfaction
  • increased cost saving & profits
  • high return on investment
  • reduction of absenteeism & presentism

Most compelling for businesses are the numerous case examples provided. For instance, just one of the many cases collated by the Sloan Center identifies how Marriott, JP Morgan Chase, and IBM have all found that offering flexibility has increased employee performance, and motivation to exceed expectations. Similar cases are found throughout the site, illustrating how flexibility can be implemented to both employee and employer benefit.

"Flexibility," the website explains, "is about an employee and an employer making changes to when, where and how a person will work to better meet individual and business needs. Flexibility enables both individual and business needs to be met through making changes to the time (when), location (where) and manner (how) in which an employee works. Flexibility should be mutually beneficial to both the employer and employee and result in superior outcomes."

Visit the What is Workplace Flexibility website at »