Work smarter and reduce stress by focusing on results, research shows

Feb 24, 2016

A US study found that giving workers complete autonomy – where the only thing that mattered was getting the job done – had striking results. Participants said they enjoyed a better work-life balance, increased sleep, reduced stress, and were less likely to leave their jobs as a result.

As reported by the Huffington Post, a team of researchers attempted to address a nation-wide workplace malaise, illustrated by some troubling statistics.

Seven in 10 American workers say they struggle to maintain work-life balance, while 83 per cent are stressed about their jobs – up from 73 percent just a year before.

And it’s not an issue that’s restricted to the US, with a global survey finding that only 13 per cent of workers worldwide are engaged in their jobs. In fact, more employees are ‘actively disengaged’ – 24 per cent – meaning they’re unhappy and unproductive at work, with the potential for this negativity to rub off on their colleagues.

According to University of Minnesota sociologist Phyllis Moen, who led the research, the most effective way of reducing work stress is to target its root cause – long hours, unrealistic demands and deadlines, and work-life conflict.

Focusing on results 

The study trialled a 'results only working environment', which gave 325 employees control over when, where and how they worked for a six-month period – the only requirement being that they got the job done. Employees could choose to work from home, for example, or start and finish at different times to fit in with school pick-ups or personal work preferences. A control group of 334 workers continued with their regular schedules.

The results were compelling. After six months, the employees working flexibly reported reduced work-family conflict and a better sense of control of their time, and they were getting a full hour of extra sleep each night. These workers were less likely to leave their jobs, resulting in reduced turnover.

Importantly, this increased flexibility didn’t encourage the participants to work around the clock. "They didn't work anywhere and all the time – they were better able to manage their work,” Moen said.

“Flexibility and control is key. Many workers really feel like they cannot manage if they don't have more control over their work time.”

Could greater flexibility benefit your workplace? Head on over to our LinkedIn page and let us know your thoughts!   

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