Employee burnout has snowballed into a bigger problem for the everyday workplace--including yours. What's the consequence of burnout? Effects include negative performance, tense and disengaged work cultures, and an even higher risk of death for overworked employees. What most companies try to do is ignore it. 

When you think of more traditional workplaces, say within the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, even companies like Humana and Allergan are supporting options like flexible hours, and part or full-time remote work. At our company Delivering Happiness, we've implemented both remote work along with a self-managed schedule. It grants our teams the opportunity to structure their lives around other things besides work like traveling abroad, tending to loved ones, and allocating time to just about anything that's important to them. 

We do it to sustain the wow-worthy talents and skills of our employees for the long-term, and workplace burnout plays opposite to that strategy.

Don't think that burnout is happening at your company? A 2018 study from Yale University found that 20 percent of your top performers may be feeling mentally or physically drained. 

Flexible work options can help alleviate burnout for your organization. Here are three major effects they might have on your employees:

1. Fewer interruptions in their workflow

One of my earlier reads in positive psychology was from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of the best-selling book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. His concept of 'flow' can be likened to an athlete or artist feeling 'in the zone', when you're churning through work in a way that feels good, and almost nothing can stop you. In my early days of consulting at Zappos and in our happiness model, we attribute flow as a commonly found habit in happier, more productive cultures. 

Workplaces should focus on ways to support employees to get into their optimal flow of productivity, and that can be through flexible or remote work.

It takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task flow after you've been interrupted. If you're lucky as a leader or manager to have only ten interruptions a day, you're still losing out on about two hours of productivity. 

What you end up with are offices full of people who are continually playing catch-up instead of reaching a state of 'flow'.

2. A realistic and achievable work/life integration

It becomes impossible to juggle a positive work/life integration when you feel pressed for time. According to a 2015 Deloitte survey of over 1,000 full-time employees, 32 percent say they've consistently placed work commitments over personal ones in the past six months.

At Delivering Happiness, we encourage our team to make use of their flexible schedules. Parents can be on-call for their kids, sick employees can go to their doctor appointments without worry, and we all can make time for dinner plans.

This flexibility gives employees the opportunity to put more time into other parts of their lives more consistently, not just when they're caught up on work. When employees can invest energy in areas that support their well-being, they can be up to four times less likely to feel burnout at work.

3. Motivation to 'show up' and stay

If your employees feel like the only reason they're at work is for a paycheck, then it's going to be extremely difficult to motivate them for the long haul. Incentives like bonuses or perks are useful to re-engaged your teams for the short-term. To sustain innovation, people want more time.

A 2015 Flexjobs survey found that a staggering 82 percent of employees say they would be more loyal to their employers if they offered flextime, while half of your employees would change jobs for it.

We've seen the payoff of flexible time manifest in significantly lower turnover rates and higher profits. If flexible work options can support a healthier work/life integration, improve productivity and focus, and motivate your people to want to work (and stay at their jobs), then your company culture will thank you for it.

Published on: Feb 1, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.