Workers who have a choice regarding when and where they work based on individual needs and job responsibilities exhibit improved health behaviors and greatly reduced turnover rates, according to a University of Minnesota study released in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
The study, conducted by sociology professors Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen, used data collected from more than 600 white-collar employees at Best Buy’s headquarters in Richfield, Minn. The researchers looked into the effects of the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE), an initiative introduced in 2005 aimed at redirecting the focus of employees and managers toward measurable results as opposed to simply spending time at work.
Among the key findings was a reduction in work-family conflict and improvements in employee health behaviors. Employees participating in the initiative reported getting an average of 52 minutes more sleep per night compared to working in a traditional arrangement.
Employees managed their health differently under the ROWE initiative, becoming less likely to feel obligated to work when sick and more likely to go to the doctor when necessary. The flexible arrangement increased employees’ sense of schedule control and improved their energy levels, while decreasing emotional exhaustion and psychological distress.