Flexible schedules and shorter workweeks can lead to more productive, healthy and loyal workers, according to a new report on work-life balance by the United Nations’ International Labour Organization.

It found that giving employees flexibility in terms of where and when they work can be win-win for both employees and employers. The U.N. agency said flexible work schedules can improve workers’ job satisfaction, performance and commitment to an organization, while reducing recruitment costs and increasing productivity.

It found employers that enforce strict work arrangements or schedules, such as a nine-to-five office workweek, could see a drop in productivity and job performance and an increase in turnover and absenteeism.

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Jon Messenger, lead author of the report, says new work arrangements during the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing ‘Great Resignation’ have placed work-life balance at the forefront of social and labour market issues. He adds lessons learned during the pandemic can improve both business performance and work-life balance.

The report echoes the findings of other recent studies and surveys. While salary and benefits have historically topped the list of sought-after incentives, multiple post-pandemic polls have found employees are prioritizing work-life balance.

A survey by recruitment firm Robert Half International Inc. conducted in November asked nearly 800 LinkedIn users about what topped their work goals for new year. The No. 1 response was work-life balance (39 per cent), followed by remote working options (28 per cent).

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