Flexible working and happiness in the NHS

  • Atkinson C
  • Hall L
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Purpose -- This paper aims to explore the influence of flexible working on employee happiness and attitude, and the role of this within a high performance work system (HPWS). Design/methodology/approach -- A case study of flexible working within an NHS Acute Trust is presented. A qualitative study is undertaken based on 43 employee interviews across a range of directorates within the Trust. Findings -- Employees perceive that flexible working makes them "happy" and that there are attitudinal/behavioural links between this happiness, discretionary behaviour and a number of performance outcomes. Research limitations/implications -- This paper presents a single case study with a relatively small sample which uses an inductive approach based on emergent data; it explores one element of a HPWS rather than an entire employment system. Respondents were volunteers, which raises the possibility of sample bias. Practical implications -- There may be a need for organisations to focus more on employee happiness to encourage performance. HR practitioners could reflect on the impact of HR practices on happiness and which features of a job role are likely to promote happiness. Originality/value -- This paper contributes a much-needed employee perspective on the effect of HR practices, specifically that of flexible working, and explores the neglected employee attitude of happiness. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Author-supplied keywords

  • Attitudes
  • Flexible working hours
  • Individual behaviour
  • Performance management

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  • Carol Atkinson

  • Laura Hall

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