Satisfaction, inclusiveness, or even improving work-life balance: flexibility at work has many advantages. But the latter have until now never been correlated with health status. This is now done, since a study reveals that this method of organization could reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases among certain employees.
Does office flexibility have an impact on employee health?
A team of researchers from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Pennsylvania State University conducted a workplace experiment with 1,528 employees to improve work-life balance personal. Managers were trained in strategies to promote this balance among their employees, and all teams, managers and employees alike, also participated in practical training to determine new ways to increase their autonomy. An intervention which therefore encourages flexibility in the office, a mode of organization which became democratized during – and after – the health crisis.
Published in the American Journal of Public Health, this work was carried out at the sites of two companies: an IT company, with 555 employees participating, and a long-term care unit, with 973 employees participating. To carry out their research, the scientists measured systolic blood pressure, body mass index, glycated hemoglobin, smoking, HDL cholesterol and total cholesterol of all participants at the start of the study. , then twelve months later.
So many markers that make it possible to know the risk of each employee of developing, or not, cardiovascular disease within the decade. Something made possible thanks to the calculation of a so-called cardiometabolic risk score.
Lower risk among certain employees
At the end of their work, the researchers found that flexibility at work helped reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases among certain employees. Not all, but mainly those who had a higher baseline cardiometabolic risk, as well as older employees. “Study shows working conditions are important social determinants of health“, explains Lisa Berkman, eminent epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, in a press release. And adds: “When stressful working conditions and work-family conflict were reduced, we saw a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease among the most vulnerable employees, without any negative impact on their productivity.“.
According to the researchers’ conclusions, the program implemented did not really have any significant effects on the cardiometabolic risk score of all employees. But it fell, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, in those who had a higher risk at the start of the study. “Employees (…) saw a reduction in their cardiometabolic risk score equivalent to 5.5 and 10.3 years of age-related changes“, we can read. Note that this conclusion was all the more convincing among employees aged over 45.
“We now know that such changes can improve employee health and should be implemented more widely“, concludes Orfeu Buxton, professor at Pennsylvania State University and co-author of the study.