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Behavioral Research In Accounting

Volume 14, 2002


Printed in USA

The Effects of Flexible Work


Arrangements on Stressors,
Burnout, and Behavioral Job
Outcomes in Public Accounting
Elizabeth Dreike Almer
Portland State University

Steven E. Kaplan
Arizona State University

)*564)+6
The majority of public accounting firms now offer flexible work arrange-
ments to their professional employees. Presumably these arrangements
help accommodate employee needs to manage work and family de-
mands, while also improving job satisfaction and retention. The ability
of flexible work arrangements to achieve these goals has received little
attention. The current paper addresses this issue by reporting the results
of a survey of CPAs working under a flexible work arrangement and a
similar group of CPAs working under a standard arrangement but who
appear to be plausible candidates for a flexible work arrangement. The
survey elicited information about several key employment variables:
job-related stressors (e.g., role conflict, role ambiguity, and role over-
load), burnout tendencies (e.g., emotional exhaustion, reduced personal
accomplishment, and depersonalization) and behavioral job outcomes
(e.g., job satisfaction and turnover intentions).
Results show that CPAs on flexible work arrangements report
higher job satisfaction and lower turnover intentions than those on a
standard work arrangement. CPAs on flexible work arrangements gen-
erally have lower levels of burnout and stressors, though the reduced
personal accomplishment burnout dimension may be conditioned upon
whether the CPA has a mentor. Finally, for professionals switching to
a flexible work arrangement, respondents indicated a significant im-
provement in job satisfaction and turnover intentions as well as some
decline in burnout and stressors.

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the AICPA Women and Family Issues
Executive Committee, participating firms and professionals, and the University of Miami
McLamore Summer Award and the SBA Summer Research Support. Comments from
Janet Samuels, Jeff Cohen, and Louise Single on earlier drafts of this paper are also
appreciated.
2 Almer and Kaplan

INTRODUCTION
The structure of the American workforce is changing and today
fewer than 10 percent of employees are part of a traditional family in
which the male partner is the primary provider (Rose 1998). While
families may need two incomes, they may also require more flexible
work arrangements in order to manage family demands when both
parents are working. Attempting to be responsive to their employees
family needs, while also trying to mitigate costly turnover and short-
ages of CPAs (Hiltebeitel et al. 2000), the vast majority of public ac-
counting firms now make flexible work arrangements available to their
employees (AICPA 1997). In general, excessive work-family stress has
been linked to high turnover rates in public accounting firms (Hooks
et al. 1997).
Despite the availability of flexible work arrangements, little evi-
dence is available to assess the extent to which such arrangements
are associated with key employee variables such as job stressors, burn-
out (e.g., a negative psychological response to interpersonal stressors),
job satisfaction, and turnover in the public accounting profession.
Research has not explored, for example, whether job-related stressors
might be affected by changing from a standard to a flexible work ar-
rangement. Further, empirical evidence is scant on the extent to which
flexible work arrangements are associated with burnout, job satisfac-
tion, and turnover intentions.
The purpose of the current paper is to provide evidence on the
extent to which employees use of flexible work arrangements are as-
sociated with key employment-related variables in the public account-
ing profession. This evidence contributes, in part, by extending the
work of Fogarty et al. (2000). Their study provides evidence on the
relationships among job stessors, burnout, and job outcomes among
members of the AICPA from five randomly selected states. However,
participants work arrangements were not reported or examined by
Fogarty et al. (2000). Our study examines whether flexible work ar-
rangements represent an antecedent to job stressors. Further, our
study also provides evidence on whether flexible work arrangements
are associated with burnout and job outcomes.
A questionnaire was designed and administered to public account-
ing professionals working under a flexible work arrangement as well
as to demographically similar professionals working under a standard
arrangement. The professionals working under the standard arrange-
ment were selected because of personal circumstances (i.e., recently
returned from maternity/paternity leave, with school-aged children,
etc.) that made them plausible potential candidates for a flexible work
arrangement. The questionnaire elicited information on the employ-
ees backgrounds, job stressors, burnout, job satisfaction, and turn-
over intentions. These variables are of interest to public accounting
firms attempting to assess the effects of flexible work arrangements
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements 3

and have been the focus of several previous studies of public account-
ing employees (Bamber et al. 1989; Collins and Killough 1992; Fogarty
et al. 2000; Rebele and Michaels 1990; Senatra 1980). Responses of
these two highly stressed groups of employees are compared under
the two work arrangements. A supplemental analysis compares flex-
ible respondents perceptions about flexible work arrangements to their
perceptions of their previous standard work arrangement. Responses
that take a backward look may be affected by hindsight, but they
provide useful information to firms about whether flex professionals
believe their situation is improved by having adopted a flexible work
arrangement.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows. First is a discussion
on the background of flexible work arrangements. Next, a research
question and hypotheses are presented. Third, the methodology and
results are provided. Last is a discussion of the results and limita-
tions of the research.

BACKGROUND
Flexible work arrangements began to gain popularity as an em-
ployee benefit in the early 1970s (Sladek 1995; Sullivan and Lussier
1995). Such arrangements can take a variety of forms from working
fewer hours or days, to working the same number of hours but with
greater flexibility over when the hours will be worked. Regardless of
the specific format, flexible work arrangements inject changes in the
professionals work environment as the professional is no longer work-
ing during the same hours and/or as many hours as is the norm in
their office (Hooks and Higgs 2000). Advocates of flexible work ar-
rangements contend that the use of a flexible work arrangement by
public accounting employees should improve their job satisfaction and
strengthen their intentions to remain with the firm (Mattis 1990). How-
ever, research that investigates these claims is scarce.
Public accounting firms have recognized the need to offer flexible
work arrangements to their employees. For example, the results from
the AICPAs Survey on Womens Status and Work/Family Issues in
Public Accounting found that among firms with 20 or more AICPA
members, 76 percent offer flexible work times to their professionals
and offer part-time work arrangements (AICPA 1997; Doucet and Hooks
1999). The survey also reports that since an earlier AICPA study in
1993, the prevalence of flexible work arrangements has increased sig-
nificantly and over this same time period, the percentage of new moth-
ers returning to work on a part-time basis increased from 27 percent
to 38 percent. The increasing availability of flexible work arrangements
to public accounting professionals is consistent with the results from
a Coopers & Lybrand survey that found quality of life issues were
more important than monetary rewards among new entrants (Rose
1998).
4 Almer and Kaplan

In one of the few studies specifically addressing flexible work ar-


rangements and public accounting, Cohen and Single ( 2001) examine
the perceived negative impact of flexible work arrangements on profes-
sional opportunities. Participants, who were seniors and managers from
one Big 5 firm, received a profile of a hypothetical employee who has
over the course of years been performing at or above expectations. The
study manipulated the employees gender (e.g., male vs. female) and
work arrangement (e.g., standard vs. flexible with reduced hours). The
results indicated that employees on a flexible work arrangement were
judged to have a lower likelihood of advancing to partner or being re-
quested on a future engagement, and a higher likelihood of being invol-
untarily counseled out or voluntarily leaving the firm. However, since
the study examines observer perceptions, the Cohen and Single (2001)
study is unable to offer insight into the employees perceptions of the
relative costs and benefits, such as reduced burnout feelings, of work-
ing under a flexible schedule or whether actual turnover intentions are
affected.

RESEARCH QUESTION AND HYPOTHESES


Stressors
There are competing reasons available suggesting that the job stres-
sors experienced by professionals working under a flexible work ar-
rangement may either increase or a decrease. One might expect that
differences in the flexible work arrangement environment may actu-
ally increase job stressors experienced by the flex professionals. For
example, anecdotal evidence suggests that accounting professionals
on a flexible arrangement experience stress from feeling like they are
not team players since they feel they are not working as hard as
others in their office (Almer and Kaplan 2000). The results from Cohen
and Single (2001) suggest that professionals under a flexible work
arrangement are disadvantaged (e.g., are judged to have a lower like-
lihood of being requested on a future engagement or advancing to
partner) and may also suffer from elevated job stress.
Alternatively, reasons may be offered suggesting a decrease in job
stressors among professionals working under a flexible work
arrangement. Typically professionals working under a flexible work ar-
rangement negotiate their job content and expectations, which takes
into account the needs of both the professional and the firm.1 One ben-
efit of open communication about job expectations may be reduced ad-
verse effects from the changed work environment (Women's Bar
Association 2000). That is, for a flexible work arrangement to be

1 Per conversations with Human Resources contacts at firms participating in this study,
because the firms only offer general guidelines for flexible work arrangements, dis-
cussions occur between the professional and the firm in order to establish the spe-
cifics of the arrangement.
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements 5

implemented, such factors as number of hours to be worked, num-


ber of clients, and the amount of nonbillable hours would likely be
specified, thereby reducing stress associated with ambiguous job
expectations.
Extending Fogarty et al. (2000), the current study explores the im-
pact of flexible work arrangements on three specific forms of job stres-
sors: role conflict, role ambiguity, and role overload. While Fogarty et
al.s (2000) study of members of the AICPA explored the relationships
among role stressors, burnout, and job outcomes, it did not consider
the sources of job stressors. The current study explores one potential
source of job stressorsthe use of flexible work arrangements.
Wolfe and Snoek (1962, 103) define role conflict as the simulta-
neous occurrence of two (or more) sets of pressures such that compli-
ance with one would make difficult or impossible compliance with the
other. Role ambiguity is defined by Senatra (1980, 595) as the ab-
sence of adequate information which is required in order for persons
to accomplish their role in a satisfactory manner. Beehr et al. (1976,
42) define role overload as having too much work to do in the time
available. Since it is unclear whether the effect of work arrangement
will be systematically related to each of these aspects of job-related
role stressors, the following research questions are posed.
RQ1a: Will professionals working under a flexible work ar-
rangement report lower role conflict than profession-
als working under a standard work arrangement?
RQ1b: Will professionals working under a flexible work ar-
rangement report lower role ambiguity than profes-
sionals working under a standard work arrangement?
RQ1c: Will professionals working under a flexible work ar-
rangement report lower role overload than profes-
sionals working under a standard work arrangement?

Burnout
The term burnout was first used by Freudenberger (1974), and
has been extensively researched in the occupational health and ap-
plied psychology literatures (Lee and Ashforth 1993). As discussed in
this literature, burnout refers to a negative psychological response to
interpersonal stressors and contains three separate dimensions: emo-
tional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment, and deperson-
alization (Cordes and Dougherty 1993). Emotional exhaustion is
characterized by a lack of energy and a feeling that ones emotional
resources are used up (Cordes and Dougherty 1993, 623). Reduced
personal accomplishment involves low motivation and self-esteem.
Depersonalization refers to detachment and an emotional callousness
toward others (such as clients). Sanders (1998) reports that burnout
6 Almer and Kaplan

symptoms occur in public accounting. More recently, Fogarty et al. (2000)


examine burnout tendencies among public accountants. As discussed
by Fogarty et al. (2000), the burnout construct is intended to capture
the cumulative effect of multiple stressors. That is, each of the stres-
sors may be manageable individually but, when occurring along with
other stressors in the professionals life, may overwhelm the individual.
In addition to the role stress experienced in their job, public ac-
counting professionals also experience stress due to work/home con-
flict (Collins and Killough 1992; Collins 1993). Advocates contend that
flexible work arrangements are intended to alleviate work-home stress
(Mattis 1990). By entering into a flexible work arrangement, presum-
ably the professional is able to alleviate some of the overall stress
created by work and family. This can come about if a flexible work
arrangement results in less stress attributable to family issues, work
issues, or both. To the extent that this occurs, the cumulative effect of
stressors from all sources will be lower, and consequently burnout
tendencies should be lower as well. This discussion leads to the fol-
lowing hypotheses:
H1a: Professionals working under a flexible work arrange-
ment will report lower levels of emotional exhaustion
than professionals working under a standard work
arrangement.
H1b: Professionals working under a flexible work arrange-
ment will report lower levels of reduced personal ac-
complishment than professionals working under a
standard work arrangement.
H1c: Professionals working under a flexible work arrangement
will report lower levels of depersonalization than profes-
sionals working under a standard work arrangement.
Job Outcomes
From a public accounting firms perspective, flexible work arrange-
ments are successful if employees utilizing them are more satisfied
and more likely to remain with the firm. Advocates of flexible work
arrangements allege that such programs will improve job satisfaction
and lower turnover (Mattis 1990). Research in a nonaccounting set-
ting concluded that simply offering flexible work arrangements to em-
ployees improves job satisfaction and organizational commitment
(Scandura and Lankau 1997). Among employees using a flexible work
arrangement, research has asserted that the arrangements help meet
employees needs for autonomy and independence, which should in
turn help to fulfill their self-actualization needs and job satisfaction
(Baltes et al. 1999).
Results from two public accounting studies (Collins 1993; Hooks et
al. 1997) also suggest that turnover among professionals should be lower
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements 7

under a flexible work arrangement. In a study based on a national sample


of AICPA members at the senior or manager rank, Collins (1993) found
that stress is more important in decisions by females to depart than
males. Females, more so than males, experienced high levels of stress
due to heavy time demands associated with work and family responsi-
bilities. The author speculated that greater flexibility in work arrange-
ments might represent an important mechanism to lower turnover
among public accounting employees, particularly females.
More recently, Hooks et al. (1997) examine the relationships among
work and personal life variables, gender, and turnover intentions.2
The study reports the results of a survey administered to male and
female seniors, managers and senior managers among five of the then
Big 6 firms. Overall, the study concludes that higher turnover among
females is not associated with gender per se, once differences in work
and personal life variables are controlled for. To the extent that a flex-
ible work arrangement helps professionals deal with personal life is-
sues, an implication of the Hooks et al. (1997) study is that turnover
should be lower among professionals under a flexible work arrange-
ment. This discussion leads to the following hypotheses.
H2: Job satisfaction among professionals working under a
flexible work arrangement will be higher than profes-
sionals working under a standard work arrangement.
H3: Turnover intentions of professionals working under a flex-
ible work arrangement will be lower than professionals
working under a standard work arrangement.

METHOD
A survey was distributed to public accountants employed among
five participating firms. Firm participation was enlisted through the
support of the Women and Family Issues Executive Committee (WFIEC)
of the AICPA. In offering their support, the Committee indicated that
little attention has been given to non-Big 5 firms and strongly recom-
mended that the study focus on this underresearched population. Thus,
none of the five participating firms are among the Big 5, though all
are among the 50 largest firms.3 Each firm agreeing to participate named
a liaison who was initially responsible for identifying potential partici-
pants. Two different groups of participants were sought from each par-
ticipating firm. One group, referred to as the flex group, was comprised
of employees working under a flexible work arrangement. The second
group was comprised of employees who were plausible potential
2 The work-related variables were values, expectations, satisfaction, commitment, and
intentions. The personal life variables were values, leisure preferences, spouse, and
family considerations.
3 The participating firms included one national firm, two large multi-office regional
firms, and two mid-sized multi-office regional firms.
8 Almer and Kaplan

candidates for a flexible work arrangement due to their personal situa-


tions, but who continued to work under a standard arrangement. Ex-
amples of employees fitting into this second group are those recently
returning from maternity/paternity leave, with school-aged children or
known to have care responsibilities for a parent or elderly relative. This
group is referred to as the potential flex group. In considering this sec-
ond group it is important to note that this group presumably is not
representative of all employees working under a standard work arrange-
ment. That is, not all employees are necessarily facing similar family
situations. Unlike the flex employees, however, these potential flex em-
ployees have limited flexibility in their work arrangements to deal with
family-related issues and problems. Thus, in our analysis, work ar-
rangement is a dichotomous variable where respondents were classi-
fied as having either a flex or standard arrangement.
The firm liaison sent a memo to identified employees requesting
their participation in the study. The survey was then sent directly to
these individuals by the researchers. The survey contained a cover let-
ter explaining the purpose of the study and assuring confidentiality of
all responses. Also included in the survey was a questionnaire address-
ing the individuals background followed by a series of questions used
to measure stressors, burnout symptoms, and behavioral job outcomes
(described below). Background questions, in part, collected information
on whether the individual had a mentor,4 the individuals position in
the firm, years of employment with the firm, years as a CPA, primary
functional area of work, gender, spouse description, and number of
children under 18 living at home. The statistical analysis takes into
account the potential influence of these background factors.
Respondents on a flexible work arrangement received a question-
naire requiring responses from a current perspective based on the
flexible work arrangement and a second perspective based on their
prior experience with a standard work arrangement. In discussing the
results below, the former is referred to as the current perspective and
the later is referred to as the noncurrent perspective. Potential flex
respondents simply provided a current response. Two weeks after the
initial questionnaire was mailed, follow-up letters were sent to all par-
ticipants encouraging them to complete the survey.
A total of 364 surveys were sent to the flex group and 173 useable
surveys were returned, representing a 48 percent response rate. Within
the 173 respondents in the flex group, apparently 73 were hired under
4 Following prior research (Scandura and Viator 1994; Viator and Scandura 1991),
whether the respondent had a mentor was measured using the question: Is there
someone in your firm who you have had a working relationship with that helped
your career and affected your mobility in the firm? Having a mentor is related to a
variety of job-related benefits including socialization (Dirsmith and Covaleski 1985)
and lower turnover intentions (Scandura and Viator 1994), but also can have nega-
tive consequences such as higher role conflict (Viator 2001). Accordingly, our study
controls for self-reported mentor relationships in examining job-related variables.
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements 9

a flexible work arrangement and did not switch to a flexible work ar-
rangement: forty-five flex group respondents stated on their question-
naires that they were hired under a flexible work arrangement; and
for 28 flex group respondents, it appears that they were hired under a
flexible work arrangement since their time on a flexible work arrange-
ment equaled the time employed by the firm. This subgroup is re-
ferred to as flexible permanent respondents. The remaining 100 flex
group respondents switched from a standard to a flexible work ar-
rangement. This subgroup is referred to as flex switch respondents.
For the potential flex group, 282 surveys were distributed and 140
useable surveys were returned, representing a 50 percent response
rate. Table 1 provides demographic information on respondents.
TABLE 1
Demographics by Work Arrangement
Potential
Flex Flex Significance
n = 173 n = 140 of Difference
Level in firm: Partner .5% 1%
Senior manager/
manager 27% 23%
Senior/supervisor 28% 35%
Staff 44% 41%
Administrative .5% 0% n.s.
Mentor: No 39% 36%
Yes 61% 64% n.s.
Years with current firm: 5.8 4.7 n.s.
Years as a CPA: 9.0 6.8 .004
Primary
Functional Area: Audit/Accounting 24% 43%
Tax 56% 26%
Consulting 14% 17%
Administrative 3% 7%
Multiple Areas 3% 7% .001
Gender: Female 94% 76%
Male 6% 24% .001

Spouse description:
Homemaker 3% 5%
Works at home 4% 1%
Works FT outside home 91% 85%
Works PT outside home 2% 9% .035
Number of children under
18 living at home: 1.5 1.1 n.s.
10 Almer and Kaplan

As shown in Table 1, responses to the survey were obtained from


employees with a range of experience levels, and the proportion of
respondents at the various levels did not differ between the two groups.
Also, the majority of respondents had a mentor, and again the two
groups did not differ on the proportion with a mentor.5 Several differ-
ences between the two groups exist, however. Compared to the stan-
dard group, the flex group respondents had been CPAs somewhat
longer, were more likely to work in the tax area and less likely to work
in audit/accounting, contained proportionally more females, and were
more likely to have a spouse working full time outside the home.

Measures of Stressors, Burnout Tendencies, and Job Outcomes


In order to be sensitive to respondent time constraints, some vari-
ables were measured using a subset of questions from previously vali-
dated instruments.6 Where subsets were used, questions were selected
based upon the strength of their factor loadings and applicability to
the population of study participants. Table 2 presents the questions
used in measuring the variable constructs. As shown, each of the items
was elicited on a seven-point scale.

Stressors
Rizzo et al. (1970) developed measures for role conflict and role
ambiguity applicable to those in managerial positions or those posi-
tions where the individual enjoys some degree of autonomy. These
measures have been used extensively and shown to exhibit accept-
able psychometric properties (see Jackson and Schuler 1985). For the
current study, a shortened version of the Rizzo et al. (1970) question-
naire was used containing three items to measure role conflict and
five items to measure role ambiguity. Role overload was measured
using a three-item scale from Beehr et al. (1976). For each measure,
higher scores indicate more stress. Fogarty et al. (2000) took a similar
approach to measure these three stressors, though their study did
not use subsets of these measures.

5 The proportion of respondents indicating they had no mentor was somewhat higher
than that reported in other studies of public accounting professionals (e.g., Viator
2001). One possible explanation for the lower level of mentors is that this research
focuses on flex professionals and candidates for a flexible work arrangement, whereas
other research focuses on public accounting professionals in general.
6 The measures reported in the current study are a subset of the entire seven-page
survey sent to participants. In accordance with the intent of the AICPA WFIEC Re-
search Assistance Grant under which this study was conducted, a wider range of
issues was examined in the survey than is reported in the current paper.
TABLE 2
Questions Used to Measure Model Variables and Means
All Respondents
Mean Cronbachs
Measure Questions (Scale) (Std. Dev.) Alpha
Role Stressors
Role Conflict (1) I have to work under vague directives or orders. 3.16 (1.78)
(Rizzo et al. 1970) (2) I work under incompatible policies and guidelines. 2.41 (1.52)
(3) I receive an assignment without the manpower
to complete it. 2.92 (1.76)
(1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree) 2.84 (1.36) .73
Role Ambiguity (1) I have just the right amount of work to do.a 4.12 (1.67)
(Rizzo et al. 1970) (2) I know that I have divided my time properly.a 3.37 (1.60)
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements

(3) There are clear, planned goals and


objectives for my job.a 3.88 (1.66)
(4) I know exactly what is expected of me.a 3.50 (1.60)
(5) I feel certain how I will be evaluated for a
raise or promotion.a 3.99 (1.74)
(1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree) 3.77 (1.19) .76
Role Overload (1) I am given enough time to do what is expected
(Beehr et al. 1976) of me on the job.a 3.59 (1.61)
(2) It often seems like I have too much work for
one person to do. 3.79 (1.76)
(3) The performance standards on my job are too high. 2.53 (1.31)
(1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree) 3.30 (1.22) .67

(Continued on next page)


11
TABLE 2 (Continued)
12

Mean Cronbachs
Measure Questions (Scale) (Std. Dev.) Alpha

Burnout Tendency Dimensions


Emotional Exhaustion (1) I feel emotionally drained from my work. 3.32 (1.68)
(Maslach and (2) I feel used up at the end of the workday. 3.50 (1.78)
Jackson 1981) (3) I feel burned out from my work. 3.12 (1.71)
(1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree) 3.31 (1.61) .93
Reduced Personal
Accomplishment (1) I deal very effectively with the problems of my clients.a 2.72 (1.18)
(Maslach and (2) I feel Im positively influencing other peoples lives
Jackson 1981) through my work.a 3.13 (1.45)
(3) I can easily understand how my clients feel about things.a 2.92 (1.18)
(1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree) 2.92 (1.04) .75
Depersonalization (1) I feel I treat some clients as if they are impersonal objects. 2.00 (1.18)
(Maslach and (2) I feel Ive become more callous toward people
Jackson 1981) since I took this job. 2.00 (1.31)
(3) I worry that this job is hardening me emotionally. 2.16 (1.46)
(1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree) 2.06 (1.11) .80

(Continued on next page)


Almer and Kaplan
TABLE 2 (Continued)
Mean Cronbachs
Measure Questions (Scale) (Std. Dev.) Alpha

Job Outcomes
Job Satisfaction
(McNichols et al. 1978) (1) Please indicate which of the following statements
describes how well you like your job.
(1 = I hate it to 4 = I am indifferent to it to 7 = I love it) 5.54 (1.15)
(2) Please indicate which of the following statements
describes how well you like your job.
(1 = Never satisfied to 4 = Satisfied half the time to
7 = Always satisfied) 5.29 (1.06)
(3) Please indicate how you think you compare with other
people in your firm.
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements

(1 = No one dislikes their job more than I dislike mine to


4 = I like my job about as well as other like theirs to
7=No one likes their job better than I like mine.) 5.10 (1.04)
5.31 (.98) .89
Intentions to Remain with Firm
(1) What are your current short-term (i.e., 3 years) career
intentions with your firm? 5.46 (1.53)
(2) What are your current long-term career intentions with
your firm? 4.68 (1.73)
(1 = Definitely Will Not Remain to 4 = Undecided to
7 = Definitely Will Remain) 5.07 (1.54) .87
a For ease in interpreting results, question is reversed scored for analysis purposes such that higher values reflect higher stress or
burnout.
13
14 Almer and Kaplan

Burnout
The three burnout dimensions were measured using subsets of
scales drawn from the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) (Maslach and
Jackson 1981). Each of the three burnout dimensions was measured
using three items from the MBI. For each of the dimensions, higher
scores indicate greater feelings of burnout.

Behavioral Job Outcomes


Three of four questions drawn from Hoppocks scale were used to
measure job satisfaction (McNichols et al. 1978). Two turnover ques-
tions developed by Harrell and colleagues (Rasch and Harrell 1990;
Snead and Harrell 1991) were used to assess turnover intentions. Each
measure was elicited on a scale of 1 = most negative to 7 = most favor-
able. Higher scores indicate greater job satisfaction and stronger in-
tentions to stay with the firm.

RESULTS
Descriptive Statistics
Table 2 presents descriptive statistics for the questions used to
measure each construct under study based upon current responses
for all professionals. Table 2 also presents Cronbachs alpha, an index
of internal consistency of a measure, to assess reliability. With the
exception of role overload, the Cronbachs alpha for each of the mea-
sures utilized in the study exceed 0.70, an acceptable standard for
the reliability of measures (Nunnally 1967).

Data Analysis
Multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) was used to test
the hypotheses and research question. MANCOVA is appropriate for
statistical analysis in this study because multiple items were used to
assess each dependent variable (Johnson and Wichern 1998). Fur-
ther, MANCOVA can accommodate the inclusion of background vari-
ables that might be associated with the dependent measure.7
Two steps were taken to determine which, if any, background vari-
ables should be included in the statistical analysis. First, the correla-
tion between each background variable and each dependent measure
was determined. Significant correlations (p < .05) were found between
having a mentor (e.g., yes or no), organizational level (e.g., partner,
senior manager/manager, senior/supervisor, and staff) gender, and
at least one of the dependent variables. Thus, mentor, organizational

7 We rejected structural equation modeling because two of the key independent vari-
ables in our study are manifest variables (e.g., flexible work arrangement and men-
tor status). The inclusion of manifest categorical variables requires the use of a much
larger sample size than we have. Specifically, when manifest categorical variables
are present in the model, a polychoric matrix must be determined (Loehlin 1998).
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements 15

level, and gender are included in the statistical analyses as control


variables. Second, the statistical models also included an interaction
term between each of the control variables and level of work arrange-
ment (e.g., flexible vs. standard). With the exception of the model in-
cluding the reduced personal accomplishment dimension of burnout,
the two-way interaction terms were not significant. Thus, the interac-
tion term is only included in the analysis of the reduced personal ac-
complishment dimension of burnout.8

Stressors
Research question 1 explores whether employees under a flexible
work arrangement will report lower role stress than employees under
a standard work arrangement. The study contained three constructs
related to role stress. These are role conflict, role ambiguity, and role
overload. For each construct a separate MANCOVA was conducted.
The results are presented in Table 3. As shown in Panels A, C, and D
of Table 3, work arrangement is significantly associated with role con-
flict, but not with role ambiguity or role overload. Table 3, Panel B
contains descriptive statistics regarding the effect of work arrange-
ments on role conflict. As shown, role conflict is significantly lower
under the flexible work arrangement for each of the three questions
used to measure role conflict.
As shown in Table 3, each of the control variables was signifi-
cantly associated with certain stressor variables. Mentoring relation-
ships significantly influenced role conflict and role ambiguity whereas
organizational level significantly impacted all three stressor variables.
Those with no mentor reported higher levels of role conflict and role
ambiguity. Regarding level, partners and staff reported lower levels of
role conflict than seniors and managers. Role ambiguity was inversely
related to level. No discernable pattern was detected for the effect of
level on role overload. Gender was significantly associated with role
overloadmales had higher levels of role overload than females.

Burnout
Hypothesis 1 predicts that employees under a flexible work ar-
rangement will report less burnout than employees under a standard
work arrangement. The study contained three dimensions of burnout:

8 Type of flexible work arrangement was also examined to determine if it affected the
behavioral outcomes included in the study. HR contacts at participating firms indi-
cated that the flexible work arrangements varied from person to person, to match
the needs of the local office and each professional. Typically they were structured to
vary on the following dimensions: hours and days worked during busy season(s) and
nonbusy season(s), work location during normal business hours, and if the profes-
sional was on-call during normal business hours. Each of these variables was cap-
tured in our instrument and none were significant covariates in our analyses.
16

TABLE 3
Effect of Work Arrangement on Role Stress
Panel A: MANCOVA on Role Conflicta
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .97 3 2.99 .0312 Lower when flex.
Covariates
Mentor .94 3 5.99 .0006 Higher when no mentor.
Level .90 12 2.82 .0009 Partners and staff lower than
managers and seniors.
Gender .99 3 .78 .5017 No difference.
Panel B: Adjusted Cell Means for Effect of Work Arrangement on Role Conflicta
Flex Work Standard Work
Dependent Measure Arrangement Arrangement p-value
Question 1a 3.45 3.96 .0148
Question 2a 2.74 3.10 .0402
Question 3a 3.26 3.80 .0095
Panel C: MANCOVA on Role Ambiguitya
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .97 5 1.63 .1494 No difference.
Covariates
Mentor .92 5 5.02 .0002 Higher when no mentor.
Level .87 20 1.99 .0060 Inversely related.
Gender .97 5 1.76 .1210 No difference.

(Continued on next page)


Almer and Kaplan
TABLE 3 (Continued)
Panel D: MANCOVA on Role Overloada
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .98 3 1.76 .1541 No difference.
Covariates
Mentor .98 3 1.59 .1913 No difference.
Level .91 12 2.39 .0047 No discernable pattern.
Gender .95 3 4.21 .0062 Males higher than females.

a See Table 2 for questions used to measure variables.


The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements
17
18 Almer and Kaplan

emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment, and deper-


sonalization. The results from this analysis are presented in Table 4.
As shown in Panels A and E of Table 4, work arrangement is sig-
nificantly associated with emotional exhaustion and depersonaliza-
tion. Table 4, Panel B shows that the mean for each emotional
exhaustion question was significantly lower under a flexible work ar-
rangement than under a standard work arrangement. Table 4, Panel
F shows that the mean for each depersonalization question was lower
under a flexible work arrangement than under a standard work ar-
rangement. The mean difference was significant for two of the three
questions. While a significant main effect for work arrangement was
not observed for reduced personal accomplishment, Panel C of Table
4 shows a significant two-way interaction with mentoring. To explore
this interaction, tests of simple effects for each question were con-
ducted. These results are presented in Panel D of Table 4. Among
respondents with a mentor, the mean for each question under a flex-
ible work arrangement was higher than under a standard work ar-
rangement. This difference was significant for two of the three
questions. However, this pattern was reversed among respondents
without a mentor, as the mean for each question under a flexible work
arrangement was lower than under a standard work arrangement.
Again, this difference was found for two of the three questions.
As shown in Table 4, each of the control variables was significantly
associated with certain burnout variables. Mentoring relationships sig-
nificantly influenced depersonalization and were marginally associated
with emotional exhaustion and reduced personal accomplishment. In
all cases, those with mentors reported lower levels of burnout. Organi-
zational level was significantly related to reduced personal accomplish-
ment and depersonalization, and marginally related to emotional
exhaustion. Level was inversely related to reduced personal accomplish-
ment, but positively related to the other two dimensions of burnout.
Gender was significantly associated with depersonalization. Males re-
ported higher depersonalization than females.

Job Outcomes
Hypotheses 3 and 4 predict that job outcomes among employees
under a flexible work arrangement will be more favorable than for
employees under a standard work arrangement. The study contained
two constructs related to job outcomes. These are job satisfaction and
turnover intentions. Similar to the above analysis, a separate
MANCOVA was conducted for each job outcome construct. The re-
sults from this analysis are presented in Table 5.
Panels A and C of Table 5 show that work arrangement is signifi-
cantly associated with job satisfaction and turnover intentions. Table
5, Panel B shows that the means for two of the three job satisfaction
questions were significantly higher under a flexible work arrangement
TABLE 4
Effect of Work Arrangement on Burnout
Panel A: MANCOVA on Emotional Exhaustiona
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .95 3 5.21 .0016 Lower when flex.
Covariates
Mentor .97 3 2.13 .0956 Lower when mentor.
Level .93 12 1.72 .0582 Higher at higher levels.
Gender .99 3 .17 .9152 No difference.
Panel B: Adjusted Cell Means for Effect of Work Arrangement on Emotional Exhaustiona
Flex Work Standard Work
Dependent Measure Arrangement Arrangement p-value
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements

Question 1a 3.94 4.42 .0129


Question 2a 4.12 4.84 .0005
Question 3a 3.81 4.51 .0004
Panel C: MANCOVA on BurnoutReduced Personal Accomplishmenta
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .99 3 .85 .4624 No difference.
Work Arrangement If mentor, higher when flex.
Mentor .96 3 3.87 .0096 If no mentor, lower when flex.
Covariates
Mentor .97 3 2.36 .0715 Lower when mentor.
Level .93 12 1.76 .0496 Lower at higher levels.
Gender .99 3 .53 .6572 No difference.
(Continued on next page)
19
TABLE 4 (Continued)
20

Panel D: Adjusted Cell Means for Effect of Work Arrangement and Mentor on Reduced
Personal Accomplishmenta
Mentor No Mentor
Dependent Measure Flex Standard p-value Flex Standard p-value
Question 1a 3.07 2.71 .0414 2.89 3.24 .1125
Question 2a 3.17 3.02 .4776 3.23 3.85 .0187
Question 3a 3.13 2.71 .0192 2.85 3.33 .0309
Panel E: MANCOVA on Depersonalizationa
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .96 3 3.34 .0196 Lower when flex.
Covariates
Mentor .95 3 5.66 .0009 Lower when mentor.
Level .92 12 2.12 .0137 Higher at higher levels.
Gender .96 3 3.67 .0126 Males higher than females.
Panel F: Adjusted Cell Means for Effect of Work Arrangement on Depersonalizationa
Flex Work Standard Work
Dependent Measure Arrangement Arrangement p-value
Question 1a 2.56 2.75 .1699
Question 2a 2.76 3.21 .0022
Question 3a 2.41 2.86 .0080

a See Table 2 for questions used to measure variables.


Almer and Kaplan
TABLE 5
Effect of Work Arrangement on Job Outcomes
Panel A: MANCOVA on Job Satisfactiona
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .91 3 9.66 .0001 Higher when flex.
Covariates
Mentor .90 3 10.82 .0001 Higher when mentor.
Level .97 12 .66 .7742 No difference.
Gender .99 3 .17 .5134 No difference.
Panel B: Adjusted Cell Means for Effect of Work Arrangement on Job Satisfactiona
Flex Work Standard Work
Dependent Measure Arrangement Arrangement p-value
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements

Question 1a 5.27 5.09 .1649


Question 2a 5.10 4.63 .0001
Question 3a 5.04 4.56 .0001
Panel C: MANCOVA on Intentions to Staya
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .98 2 2.86 .0585 Higher when flex.
Covariates
Mentor .93 2 10.63 .0001 Higher when mentor.
Level .96 8 1.54 .1381 No difference.
Gender .97 2 4.62 .0105 Females higher than males.

(Continued on next page)


21
TABLE 5 (Continued)
22

Panel D: Adjusted Cell Means for Effect of Work Arrangement on Intentions to Staya
Flex Work Standard Work
Dependent Measure Arrangement Arrangement p-value
Question 1a 4.88 4.72 .3681
Question 2a 4.40 3.98 .0354

a See Table 2 for questions used to measure variables.


Almer and Kaplan
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements 23

than under a standard work arrangement. Table 5, Panel D shows


that the mean for long-term intentions to remain was higher under a
flexible work arrangement than under a standard work arrangement.
As shown in Table 5, two of the control variables were significantly
associated with certain job outcome variables. Mentoring relationships
significantly influenced job satisfaction and intentions to stay. Not
surprisingly, those with mentors were more satisfied and were more
likely to remain than those without. Gender was significantly associ-
ated with turnover intentions. Interestingly, females reported they were
more likely to remain than males. Organizational level was not signifi-
cantly related to either job outcome questions.
The previous analysis of burnout did not control for the potential
influence of individual stressors. Nor did the previous analysis of job
outcomes control for the potential influence of stressors or burnout.
Research discussed earlier (Fogarty et al. 2000) suggests that stres-
sors are associated with both burnout and job outcomes, and burn-
out is associated with job outcomes. To examine the robustness of the
findings, alternative analyses were conducted on both burnout and
job outcomes constructs. In the alternative burnout analysis, stressor
constructs were included in addition to the independent variables used
previously. The value for each stressor construct was determined by
averaging the responses to the three questions comprising each stres-
sor construct. The results from these alternative analyses are pre-
sented in Table 6. As shown, the results are similar for emotional
exhaustion and reduced personal accomplishment. However, the work
arrangement construct is no longer significant in the alternative analy-
sis for depersonalization.
In the alternative job outcomes analyses, stressor constructs and
burnout constructs were included in addition to the independent vari-
ables used previously. The value for each burnout construct was de-
termined by averaging the responses to the three questions comprising
each burnout construct. The results from this alternative analysis are
presented in Table 7. As shown, the results are similar for job satis-
faction. However, the work arrangement construct is no longer sig-
nificant in the alternative analysis for turnover intentions.9

Supplemental Analysis
The above analyses utilize two demographically similar groups of
professionals who are experiencing similar life stressors (i.e., return-
ing from maternity/paternity leave, school-aged children, etc.), and
include a variety of covariates. However, it could be argued that de-
tected differences are not attributable to differences in work arrange-
ments, but to some other unspecified difference between the two

9 This analysis was also performed including job satisfaction as an additional covariate.
Work arrangement continued to be insignificant.
24

TABLE 6
Alternative AnalysisEffect of Work Arrangement on Burnout
Panel A: MANCOVA on Emotional Exhaustiona
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .97 3 2.86 .0371 Lower when flex.
Covariates
Mentor .98 3 1.42 .2356 No difference.
Level .94 12 1.31 .2076 No difference.
Gender .99 3 .11 .9485 No difference.
Role Conflictb .94 3 6.43 .0003 Higher when higher role conflict.
Role Ambiguityb .98 3 1.83 .1404 No difference.
Role Overloadb .82 3 22.06 .0001 Higher when higher role overload.
Panel B: MANCOVA on Reduced Personal Accomplishmenta
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .99 3 .80 .4907 No difference.
Work Arrangement If mentor, higher when flex. If no
Mentor .96 3 3.69 .0124 mentor, lower when flex.
Covariates
Mentor .99 3 .74 .5267 No difference.
Level .93 12 1.83 .0393 Lower at higher levels.
Gender .99 3 .55 .6422 No difference.
Role Conflictb .98 3 1.15 .3257 No difference.
Role Ambiguityb .94 3 5.96 .0006 Higher when higher role ambiguity.
Role Overloadb .98 3 1.18 .3156 No difference.

(Continued on next page)


Almer and Kaplan
TABLE 6 (Continued)

Panel C: MANCOVA on Depersonalizationa


Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .98 3 1.30 .2734 No difference.
Covariates
Mentor .97 3 2.80 .0402 Lower when mentor.
Level .93 12 1.85 .0366 Higher at higher levels.
Gender .96 3 4.33 .0052 Males higher than females.
Role Conflictb .86 3 16.55 .0001 Higher when higher role conflict.
Role Ambiguityb .98 3 1.55 .1999 No difference.
Role Overloadb .98 3 1.93 .1243 No difference.
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements

a See Table 2 for questions used to measure variables.


b Averages of questions used to measure variables.
25
26

TABLE 7
Alternative AnalysisEffect of Work Arrangement on Job Outcomes
Panel A: MANCOVA on Job Satisfactiona
Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .93 3 7.16 .0001 Higher when flex.
Covariates
Mentor .93 3 6.34 .0004 Higher when mentor.
Level .96 12 .80 .6432 No difference.
Gender .99 3 .44 .7202 No difference.
Role Conflictb .99 3 .93 .4260 No difference.
Role Ambiguityb .94 3 5.34 .0013 Higher when lower role ambiguity.
Role Overloadb .98 3 1.41 .2392 No difference.
BurnoutEmotional
Exhaustionb .91 3 9.44 .0001 Higher when lower emotional exhaustion.
BurnoutReduced
Personal .95 3 5.11 .0018 Higher when lower reduced personal
Accomplishmentb accomplishment.
Burnout
Depersonalizationb .93 3 7.51 .0001 Higher when lower depersonalization.

(Continued on next page)


Almer and Kaplan
TABLE 7 (Continued)

Panel B: MANCOVA on Intentions to Staya


Wilks
Factor Lambda DF F p-value Pattern of Results
Work Arrangement .99 2 1.28 .2778 No difference.
Covariates
Mentor .97 2 4.58 .0109 Higher when mentor.
Level .97 8 1.26 .2616 No difference.
Gender .97 2 4.16 .0165 Females higher than males.
Role Conflictb .99 2 .42 .6565 No difference.
Role Ambiguityb .96 2 6.56 .0016 Higher when lower role ambiguity.
Role Overloadb .99 2 .51 .5982 No difference.
BurnoutEmotional
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements

Exhaustionb .98 2 2.04 .1309 No difference.


BurnoutReduced
Personal
Accomplishmentb .98 2 2.00 .1363 No difference.
Burnout
Depersonalizationb .96 2 6.01 .0028 Higher when lower depersonalization.

a See Table 2 for questions used to measure variables.


b Averages of questions used to measure variables.
27
28 Almer and Kaplan

groups. To assess this possibility, we compared the before and after


switch responses of the 100 flex switch subgroup professionals. In
addition to providing further evidence for our hypotheses, this analy-
sis provides useful information to firms in assessing the benefits of
flexible work arrangements. This backward look provides evidence
on whether the flex professionals perceive an improvement by adopt-
ing a flexible work arrangement. Table 8 presents the results of the
comparison.
For each work-related variable, Hotellings T-square test was per-
formed comparing the change from noncurrent to current responses.
Table 8 shows the results of this supplemental analysis are consistent
with the main analysis for the effect of flexible work arrangements on
burnout and job outcomes, but not on role stressors. With regard to
role stressors, the main analysis showed that flex professionals had
lower role conflict, whereas the supplemental analysis indicates that
the switch to a flex arrangement only lowers role ambiguity. It should
be noted that the differences in these analyses could be attributed to
not controlling for potential covariates in the before and after analy-
sis of the flex switch respondents. However, consistent with the main
analysis, each burnout dimension, job satisfaction, and intentions to
stay were all reported to be significantly improved by switching to a
flex work arrangement.

DISCUSSION
Before discussing the results of the study, several limitations should
be noted. First, subsets of the originally validated measures were used
to measure role stressors, burnout, and job satisfaction. Accordingly,
the reduced measures may have failed to capture the relevant dimen-
sions of the constructs, and the results reported here may not be com-
parable with other research that used the complete validated measures.
Second, the study relied upon the responses from a questionnaire dis-
tributed to professionals identified by each participating firm. Reli-
ance upon the firm to identify participants does not represent a random
process and limits the generalizability of the results. In particular,
professionals who may have adopted a flexible work arrangement, then
still chose to leave their current firm, were excluded. The response
rate was quite high, but there is always the possibility that those re-
sponding may systematically differ from those who did not respond.
Of final note, the focus of our study was on sampling professionals at
large non-Big 5 firms facing both work and family responsibilities that
are likely to create a high degree of stress. The effect of flexible work
arrangements may differ at larger or smaller CPA firms.
The study found one of the role stressorsrole conflictwas sig-
nificantly lower among professionals under a flexible work arrange-
ment. This finding is important because it indicates that professionals
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements 29

TABLE 8
Supplemental Analysis on the Effects of Work Arrangement
Comparison of Flex Switch Noncurrent and Current Responses

Mean (Standard Deviation)


Hotelling's Flex Switch Flex Switch
T-square Noncurrent Current
Measure p-value (n = 97) (n = 97) p-value
Panel A: Role Stressorsa
Role Conflict .6300
Role Ambiguity .0040
Question 1 4.09 4.09 .8098
Question 2 3.67 3.05 .0028
Question 3 3.92 4.04 .5799
Question 4 3.57 3.66 .6307
Question 5 3.88 4.03 .2590
Role Overload .2830
Panel B: Burnout Dimensionsa
Emotional Exhaustion .0001
Question 1 3.93 3.31 .0009
Question 2 4.06 3.43 .0008
Question 3 3.98 3.06 .0001
Reduced Personal
Accomplishment .0290
Question 1 2.68 2.75 .4218
Question 2 3.55 3.24 .0083
Question 3 3.06 2.96 .1234
Depersonalization .0580
Question 1 2.04 1.89 .0054
Question 2 2.14 1.93 .0264
Question 3 2.32 2.04 .0262
Panel C: Job Outcomesa
Job Satisfaction .0001
Question 1 4.62 5.56 .0001
Question 2 4.56 5.38 .0001
Question 3 4.44 5.28 .0001
Intentions to Stay .0001
Question 1 1.88 5.52 .0001
Question 2 1.63 4.75 .0001

a See Table 2 for questions used to measure variables.


30 Almer and Kaplan

under different work arrangements experience different levels of role


conflict. This finding extends the work by Fogarty et al. (2000) by pro-
viding evidence on one source of differential stress among profession-
als. Recall that the role conflict questions dealt with vague directives,
incompatible policies, and necessary manpower. Professionals work-
ing under a flexible work arrangement assessed each of these ques-
tions significantly lower than professionals working under a standard
work arrangement. This result may reveal an unintended benefit of
flexible work arrangements. Discussion with the Human Resources
contacts in our study indicates that when entering into a flexible work
arrangement, professionals negotiate with their superiors the nature
and content of the arrangement. Future research may consider if this
process of negotiation leads to better specification of directives, iden-
tification and elimination of incompatible policies, and more appropri-
ate staffing for tasks. To the extent this is the case, professionals
working under a standard schedule presumably could also benefit from
engaging in greater communications with superiors.
Neither role ambiguity nor role overload was significantly influ-
enced by flexible work arrangements. Thus, while flexible work ar-
rangements reduce one aspect of role stressors, neither of the other
aspects of stressors showed a similar decline. Additional research might
be directed toward determining why flexible work arrangements dif-
ferentially affect the various aspects of role stressors. For example,
perhaps role overload did not decline because, as has been anecdot-
ally suggested, organizations may not sufficiently change their work-
load expectations to correspond with the reduced hours under a flexible
work arrangement (Almer and Kaplan 2000).
Consistent with H1a and H1c, professionals working under a flex-
ible working arrangement exhibited lower levels of emotional exhaus-
tion and depersonalization. Burnout research asserts that burnout can
be thought of as a process, in which emotional exhaustion is the first
step (Cordes and Dougherty 1993). In our study, professionals under a
flexible work arrangement report feeling less drained from work (e.g.,
emotional exhaustion question 1), less used up at the end of the work-
day (e.g., emotional exhaustion question 2), and less burned out by
work (e.g., emotional exhaustion question 3). Thus, since flexible work
arrangements alleviate feelings of emotional exhaustion, future research
may consider if further stages of burnout may be prevented. Addition-
ally, future research also could examine if professionals with lower feel-
ings of emotional exhaustion are better able to serve their clients than
those with stronger feelings of emotional exhaustion.
Unexpectedly, our analysis indicated that the hypothesized influ-
ence of flexible work arrangements on reduced personal accomplish-
ment occurred among professionals without a mentor, but was not found
among professionals with a mentor. In considering the pattern of means,
it appears that among professionals working under a standard
The Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements 31

arrangement, mentors serve to lower burnout due to perceptions of


reduced personal accomplishment. However, mentors apparently have
little influence on lowering burnout due to perceived reduced personal
accomplishment among professionals working under a flexible work
arrangement. This finding merits further investigation. Perhaps, this
finding suggests that mentors are less willing to devote time and en-
ergy to subordinates working under a flexible work arrangement.
Results for H2 show that job satisfaction among professionals un-
der a flexible work arrangement was significantly greater than among
professionals under a standard work arrangement. This finding cor-
roborates claims made by advocates of flexible work arrangements (Mattis
1990). Further research is encouraged to explore whether improved job
satisfaction is attributable to employees having more control over their
time or enhanced feelings of autonomy and independence. Results for
H3 showed the intentions to stay with the firm long-term were stronger
among professionals under a flexible work arrangement than among
professionals under a standard work arrangement. However, the alter-
native analysis showed no support when covariates were included for
stress and burnout. Recent empirical and theoretical associations among
stress, burnout, and turnover intentions (Fogarty et al. 2000) suggest
that including stress and burnout in the model lowers the ability of the
statistical analysis to detect an incremental significant effect for turn-
over intentions. Future research should be directed toward developing
and testing a more comprehensive model of the direct and indirect ef-
fects related to turnover and job satisfaction.
Supplemental analysis was conducted on the subset of profession-
als under a flexible work arrangement who also responded from a
perspective based on their prior experience with a standard work ar-
rangement. In the before and after analysis, the effect of flexible work
arrangement was insignificant for role conflict and significant for role
ambiguity. The turnover intentions responses are quite revealing. In
absence of a flexible work arrangement, the flex switch professionals
clearly intended to leave their firm, yet they report strong intentions
to stay with a flexible arrangement. This finding suggests that flexible
arrangements are an effective means to retain employees in public
accounting.
This study helps us understand how flexible work arrangements
operate to affect improvements in job satisfaction and turnover inten-
tions among CPAs. The results indicate that flexible work arrange-
ments can enhance the satisfaction and retention of valued employees.
Offering and supporting the use of flexible work arrangements is an
antecedent to job satisfaction and turnover that can be controlled by
a firm. Given the current shortages of experienced CPAs, this studys
validation of the success of flexible work arrangements is particularly
important for public accounting firms.
32 Almer and Kaplan

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