Staying happy in your profession isn’t always easy, even if you’ve landed your dream job.
More than a quarter of employees surveyed as part of a study from project management software company Wrike said they would leave their job in the next 12 months if their stress levels don’t change. And 67% of employees say they are sometimes, always, or very often burned out at work, according to workplace analytics and consulting firm Gallup.
One important step employers can take to keep workers happy in their role is to give them more autonomy over how, when, and where they work. That’s according to Laura Vanderkam, a time-management expert who has written several books about productivity and work-life balance, including “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done.”
“Having control over your time is actually huge,” Vanderkam said in a recent interview with Business Insider. “It just gives you a sense of agency over your life that is massively correlated with life satisfaction.”
Making the most out of an employee’s time is critical to keeping workers happy, whether that means being flexible when it comes to working remotely or adjusting work hours depending on the workload. For example, requiring an employee to arrive early or stay late regardless of whether or not there’s any work for him or her to do is probably not the best way to keep a worker satisfied in their role.
“That can make you feel so powerless, and like you’re wasting your life away,” said Vanderkam. “And those feelings of course, are very negative.”
There’s evidence to back up Vanderkam’s sentiment. In a study conducted by human resources software provider Zenefits in 2018, 78% of employees said that flexible work arrangements made them feel more productive at work, while 73% said flexible work arrangements increased their satisfaction in their job. The flexibility to work remotely part-time or full-time was also named as one of the top benefits employees would switch jobs for, according to a 2017 report from Gallup.
But working flexibly doesn’t mean working less. Getting the privilege to work remotely or during hours that make it easier to balance non-work-related commitments could mean making up the hours at other times, or being more productive than usual during the workday. An employee that wants to take a shorter day on Friday to take an elderly parent to a routine doctor appointment may be required to come in an hour or two earlier, for example.
Having those types of restrictions — i.e. being forced to finish a product by 2 p.m. on Friday because you have to leave early — could even boost productivity, says Vanderkam.
“I think there is some element of, you’re in a culture where there is a huge premium put on being in the office [and] showing your face,” says Vanderkam. “And when that has been limited, it forces decisions that have not actually been made before.”
Originally published on Business Insider.
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