As Stress Awareness Month comes to an end this week, a research report by the Institute of Leadership & Management, the membership body for leaders, managers, coaches and mentors, demonstrates how crucial flexible working can be to reducing stress and increasing general wellbeing.  
  • 4 in 5 (85%) managers feel that allowing staff to work flexibly enhances staff wellbeing and reduces overall stress 
  • 65% of managers believe flexible working encourages more commitment and motivation amongst staff
  • 78% of managers say flexible working helps to retain staff
The Institute of Leadership & Management believes stress can manifest through a combination of factors; the core of which is how people manage their work-life balance. Speaking to over 1,026 managers, the Institute of Leadership & Management’s study found that flexible working increases, rather than decreases, productivity and wellbeing. The study also found that learning the tools or techniques of how to be happy in one’s working life can empower major breakthroughs for people and their wellbeing. 
The Institute research found that there needs to be broader communication in the workplace regarding flexible working policies from senior management. Openness and honesty about flexible working policies can alleviate worries and uncertainty. This has been further corroborated in related research highlighting that many staff become stressed about asking for help at work*.
Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards of The Institute of Leadership & Management says:
“By 2020 the 9 to 5 office will be something older workers may only remember with nostalgia. Flexible working patterns and the benefits to wellbeing and work productivity is proven.  If organisations get this right, the flexibility to attract highly skilled staff, exploiting all the benefits of digital communication and artificial intelligence is very beneficial.
It’s important to note though, places of work may change but we’ll still need to connect, to meet personally and form relationships with co-workers. Keeping meaningful and trusting relationships central to the working relationship will have competitive advantage whatever the sector.” 
The Institute of Leadership & Management’s magazine Edge recently interviewed management expert Thibaut Bardon, who argued that managers who prioritise happiness at work are at the forefront of managerial innovation. He also commented that freeing up organisational structures or creating playful workspaces promoted positive feelings**.
The Institute of Leadership & Management also partners with Business in the Community on its mental wellbeing research, which focuses on employers taking a proactive approach to embedding wellbeing into their organisational culture; providing a framework for employers to create the conditions where the ‘whole’ person can flourish***.
Using the hashtag #FlexMyHappy, The Institute of Leadership & Management are encouraging workers to seek happiness breaks throughout their working day- whether it be going to the gym, taking a walk in the sunshine, attending a meditation class, or simply taking a tea break. Tell us if you're taking a happiness break @InstituteLM.

Notes to editors:

Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards of The Institute of Leadership & Management is available for interview. Please contact or 07870226967 for set up and any other query.

The report on Flexible Working can be read here:

*New research from HEC Paris published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes suggests.

**The Challenges of Looking After Your Employees Happiness: 

***Business in the Community Resources: 

Leading on mental wellbeing: transforming the role of line managers:

BITC Work Well Model: