Content prepared by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College

Flexibility has a dramatic positive impact on employee commitment and is one of the most powerful components of the business case for flexibility. Commitment is higher and burnout is lower for employees who have access to flexibility compared with those who do not have it. In fact, the dramatic effect of flexibility on employee commitment is one of the most powerful components of the business case for flexibility. An engaged employee is concerned with producing quality work and believes that she or he has a stake in the organization. "Research by the Corporate Leadership Council concludes that every 10% improvement in commitment can increase an employee's level of discretionary effort by 6% and performance by 2%; highly committed employees perform at a 20% higher level than non-committed employees. Hewitt Associates research finds that double-digit growth companies have 39% more highly engaged employees and 45% fewer highly disengaged employees than single-digit growth companies." (24)


In a Deloitte survey, employees were asked whether their managers granted them enough flexibility to meet personal and/or family responsibilities. The employees who agreed that they had access to flexibility scored a dramatic 32% higher in their commitment to the company than those without flexibility.

AstraZeneca surveyed its employees and found that commitment scores were 28% higher for employees who had the flexibility they needed compared to employees without flexibility. (24)


A study of 2002 data from the Families and Work Institute's National Study of the Changing Workforce showed that using 13 specific flexibility measurements, employees with more access to workplace flexibility were "more engaged in their jobs and committed to their current employers—more loyal and willing to work harder than required to help their employers succeed." (39)

In a Canadian study involving 2,200 smaller businesses (with less than 100 employees), The Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being found that supporting employees working flexibly enhanced employee commitment at small businesses. As one owner of a small multimedia company noted:

"A lot of time we end up having people work past regular hours to meet deadlines. There's no way we could see people doing that and not allowing them to be flexible in their work hours in other ways." (29)

In a study of a large U.S. retail store offering flexibility to hourly workers, managers credited workplace flexibility with contributing to employee engagement in two significant ways. First, "[w]hen store managers are responsive to employees' requests for flexibility, employees are more likely to be committed to their jobs and will go the extra mile for the company. Second, managers' responsiveness to flexible work requests seems to promote a quid pro quo phenomenon. When employees are given the requested flexibility, they are more willing, in turn, to be flexible with the company and assist the manager when asked to help out. (80)