EMPLOYERS NEED » HIGH RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Content prepared by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College

While workplace flexibility is regarded by many as a low-cost or no-cost proposition with a high return on investment, direct evidence to support this view is not yet available. Arguably, "organizations with higher levels of employee satisfaction will in turn have more satisfied customers, higher profits and better return for shareholders." (21) However, it is difficult to quantify the return on investment (ROI) on workplace flexibility. Most employers do not undertake studies to evaluate the ROI on measures to enhance workplace flexibility directly. Among employers surveyed in the 2007 National Study of Business Strategy & Workforce Development, some employers reported that they used indirect measures of ROI relevant to workplace flexibility such as on customer service initiatives (52.6%), initiatives to increase retention (52.6%), and initiatives related to training (44.1%), wellness (43.4%), and improving recruitment (43.5%). (70)

CASE EXAMPLES

First Tennessee Bank found that by implementing workplace flexibility it created a 50% higher retention rate. The bank determined that as "employee satisfaction increased, customer retention increased by 7%, which translated into $106 million profit increment in two years' time." (24)

In a study of a large U.S. retail store offering flexibility to hourly workers, managers expressed a "belief that flexibility has a direct impact on the bottom line by reducing operational costs, especially expenses associated with employee turnover, training and recruitment." While managers noted "that there are costs associated with offering flexible work options," most of the managers agreed that the "return on investment far exceeds the upfront expense." (80)

A small executive recruiting firm reports that "years ago, as it became tougher to hire and retain commission oriented sales people, [we] decided to improve [our] work environment through a variety of initiatives including increased flexibility. Options ranged from flexible hours to job sharing to telecommuting. We also began leveraging new technologies that let our employees access our entire set of online business tools from home. We are certain that our extremely high employee retention—and our 50% yearly growth over the last four years—are directly related to the flexibility we provide." (34)


SURVEY FINDINGS

According to a 2007 report on the National Study of Business Strategy and Workforce Development, one-fifth (18.9%) of the employers indicated that their organizations link workplace flexibility and overall business effectiveness to a "great extent," and another third (36%) stated that their organizations make this connection to a "moderate extent." (70)

Extent of Strategic Linkages Between Workplace Flexibility and Overall Business Effectiveness, Percent of Respondent Organizations by Extent
Source: Pitt-Catsouphes, M., Smyer, M., Matz-Costa, C. & Kane, K. (2007, March). The National Study Report: Phase II of The National Study of Business Strategy and Workforce Development. Research Highlight 04. Chestnut Hill, MA: The Center on Aging & Work/Workplace Flexibility at Boston College.