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Does flexible working improve our health?

Is flexible working beneficial to our health?

New laws were introduced earlier this year, meaning that all UK employees are now entitled to request flexible working if they’ve been with a business for 26 weeks or more.

But are there really any links between flexible working and improved health and wellbeing?

Many studies have shown that there is a link, with a number of researchers claiming to have found evidence that changing work patterns can reduce stress and enable employees to fit more healthy habits such as exercise and cooking healthier meals into their daily routine.

As a health insurance company, we certainly welcome any changes that have a positive effect on Britain’s workers and, at Westfield Health, we already give our staff the opportunity to tailor their contracted hours to work either part time or from home, depending on their circumstances and the requirements of their role.

But before a real link between flexible working and better health can be established, more needs to be done to help employers put systems in place to help them adapt successfully to a culture of flexible working.

Last year, our own Big Work Survey found that more than a quarter of senior decision makers thought that their organisation tended to discourage, or strongly discourage, flexible working as an option for employees.

But flexible working is rated alongside health cover as the employee benefit that makes workers feel most satisfied and valued in their role. So the introduction of the flexible working legislation presents an opportunity for health insurers to work more proactively with employers - not only to improve the health and wellbeing of their workforce, but also to boost staff morale and productivity.

What’s your experience of flexible working? Has going part time or changing your working hours improved your health and wellbeing? Join the conversation on Twitter and let us know your thoughts @westfieldhealth

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