Employee Engagement: How is it Impacted by the Number of Work Hours? | DCR Workforce Blog

Employee Engagement: How is it Impacted by the Number of Work Hours?

Gallup says employers have failed to engage their workers in 2015, and that employee engagement numbers remained static through the year at less than one-third of the workforce. This goes to prove that employers are not doing enough to ensure employee engagement! If they are doing it, then they’re probably not doing it right. Let’s take a look at some insights into the benefits of flexible work hours as well as the issues with extra-long work days and how they impact employee engagement.

Flexibility is Key to Work-Life Balance

Industry pundits credit a flexible work schedule, which doesn’t limit one to a 9 am to 5 pm schedule, with the power to increase employee engagement. While it seems like a no-brainer, not even 20% of employers offer flexible work hours to their workforces. However, the future seems to hold more promise. According to a Flexjobs report, 2015 saw an increase in telecommuting and growth in flextime, setting a course for employers who wish to follow this path in 2016 and beyond.

  • Telecommuting is on the rise with a 30% increase in occasional telecommuting between 1995 (9%) and 2015 (37%). On average, the telecommuters worked two days from home.
  • The work-at-home population has grown 103% between 2005 and 2015 with a 6.5% increase from 2014 alone. More workers express their preference for a work-from-home arrangement. According to a Flexjobs survey, conducted across 2,600 respondents, 76% of workers avoid the office and work from home when they have important work. Employers encourage them to do so because they know that productivity increases with work from home because there are typically less distractions.

In the future of work, an employer’s success may come to depend on how much flexibility they provide their employees. Employers can offer remote work, flexible work options or part-time assignments. Jobs with flexible work hours may make it possible for a worker to:

  • Take up further studies
  • Learn new skills
  • Focus on hobbies
  • Become caregivers to family – whether parents, children or those with special needs
  • Volunteer for non-profit causes like education, animal welfare, etc. and give back to society
  • Take up remote volunteer work through crowdsourced projects online
  • Spend their time on leisure activities
  • Reduce work-related stress and burnouts
  • Improve their health and well-being

More and more human capital managers are convinced of the critical importance of workplace flexibility for its ability to improve their employees’ work-life balance and its direct correlation to increase their engagement within the workplace. It’s also being recognized as a way to access critical skills and great talent, sometimes luring post-retirement people back into the workforce to benefit from their vast experience. Savvy companies are saving millions of dollars in employee turnover costs and improving productivity by offering flexibility in the workplace as an alternative to the regimented structure of the past.

Technology makes it so much easier for employees to work from home. However, strict guidelines must be adhered to for confidentiality such as not leaving proprietary information on the screen for family members to see. Some employers offer a company laptop, modem and cell phone so employees have the required software installed or can access systems from the cloud. Apps such as Skype and GoToWebinar make it easy to stay in contact with off-site employees and share information or data quickly and easily. Various types of generic or industry-specific project management software allows everyone to see who is responsible for what project, steps in the process, changes or comments and due dates.

Of course, flexible work requires the employee have a strong work ethic and deep company commitment as well as a manager who is able to guide the employee by structuring their work to reach individual, departmental and company-wide goals. This is even more important when working with remote or off-shore teams.

Long Work Hours Negatively Affect Engagement, Productivity and Safety

Employee engagement statistics show that 61% of workers are barely engaged while 26% are completely disengaged. Since the productivity of a business is directly proportionate to the engagement of its employees, making employees work long hours is unanimously considered a source of employee dissatisfaction and disengagement. In other words, employers who stretch workers’ hours and squeeze them to work harder on a daily basis may find that the company suffering negative consequences in the long run, not just in terms of productivity but also in worker output and, even more important, safety.

A 2014 study from Stanford University named ‘The Productivity of Working Hours’ proves the inverse relationship of work hours to productivity and calls long work hours unhealthy for both employees as well as the bottom line. The report reveals that employee output falls sharply after 50 hours of work in a week and becomes virtually non-existent after 55 hours. The resulting fatigue and stress also increases the risk of errors, accidents and sickness, which may potentially impose further costs on an employer.

Many traditional employers remain cautious, thinking employees will take advantage of working from home. However, it’s been proven over and over that quite often the opposite is the result…the employee is less distracted, resulting in improved performance, output and, ultimately, engagement.

Share with us what you’re doing and what results you’re seeing. Have you made sure that your workplace has policies that encourage genuine work-life balance? If you currently offer flexibility, is it being implemented? What technology is on your wish list?

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.