Why you should allow staff to have more autonomy over how they do their work

Work isn’t always easy. If forced into a schedule or working style that doesn’t suit them, employees can find themselves overwhelmed, overworked, and underperforming.

One of the best ways to help your staff cope with the demands of their job is to give them more control over how they get their work done. A lack of control over work is one of the six causes of workplace stress that can have a negative impact on employees, teams, and the business as a whole.

Many managers worry that giving staff too much freedom will result in a loss of productivity, but studies have shown that allowing employees more autonomy makes them feel more in control. This has been shown to boost motivation and productivity, as well as overall happiness.

Autonomy doesn’t mean employees are given complete free reign, rather employees are given freedom to choose how to approach tasks, and can do so in ways that suit them best, while still meeting the needs of the business.

Benefits of letting your employees have more control over their work

Giving your employees autonomy over their work can increase overall job satisfaction. When someone chooses how to engage with a task and sees positive results, it affirms they are capable, that their skills and methods were right for the job.

Increased productivity and performance

Giving your employees autonomy over their work also gives them ownership and accountability. They decide for themselves how to approach a task, and whether they succeed or fail is entirely up to them. This is a big motivator, and often propels employees to work harder, increasing their productivity.

Increased motivation

Once an employee has seen that their methods have yielded good results, they’re motivated to continue. Some will find a routine that works best for them, others will continue to innovate and try new approaches. But both methods help reinforce to your employees that they are in control, that they can make a difference, and that their success comes as a direct result of their choices.

This motivation is hugely important, not just for your bottom line, but for your employees on a fundamental level.

Increased wellbeing

It’s no surprise that giving your staff more control over their day can help them feel better. Knowing they have the ability to change their hours based on childcare needs or prior commitments helps lower stress, which has a big impact on our performance at work.

Increased job satisfaction also leads to lower turnover, so there are benefits for both the employee and the business.

Building a culture of autonomy requires trust and respect, so here are three ways to begin building those qualities.

How to give your employees more control over how they work

Changing workplace culture to allow for more autonomy might be a significant shift, but it shows your employees you appreciate them, giving them the freedom and flexibility to work in a way that is best for them.

Given that 79% of employees leave jobs because they don’t feel appreciated, knowing that the business trusts them and wants them to succeed on their own terms can play a huge role in staff retention.

Allow your staff to choose their own career paths

Companies will often look at their needs first, instead of what their employees want to learn or achieve.

When employees are given the freedom to choose how they work, and what they ultimately work towards, it can result in a dramatic increase in productivity and motivation.

Only 29% of employees are very satisfied with their current career opportunities in their roles, yet 30% considered career development opportunities very important.

Businesses have the ability to give their staff more power over their career development, without necessarily having to invest in additional training. There are branches to any job that don’t require a qualification or certificate.

Marketing staff may want to practise coding, or video editing. HR staff may want to learn project management. These skills can always help drive a business forward, even though they may not have been on the job description.

Giving your staff control over how they learn and develop puts them in the driver’s seat of their careers.

Offer flexible working

81% of employees polled by Sage placed importance and value on flexible working.

Giving your staff flexible working is beneficial for both them and the company.

Firstly, it gives employees direct control over one of the most important elements of concentration, productivity, and overall mood: sleep. If you can control your schedule, you can control when you sleep and when you wake up, allowing staff to begin work when works best for them.

Different people function at different levels at different times, so giving them the ability to choose when to start work can make a huge impact on how they tackle their day.

Rather than focusing on when and where people work, look at the results. Giving employees the ability to better control their schedule will allow them to work at the time that is best for them, resulting in better work, happier employees, and reduced turnover.

Give your staff control over their workspace

We work better in spaces that we enjoy being in. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and yet many businesses still insist employees work in rigid spaces they have no control over.

If you can, consider allowing your staff to pick where they work in the office. This gives them control over their immediate surroundings, and can then alter them to better suit their preferences, needs, and habits.

As you implement increased levels of autonomy in your workplace, it’s likely you’ll notice employees working harder, performing better, and being happier.

As we begin to return to the workplace, more and more businesses will implement flexible working, give their employees more control over their work, and support them with their overall wellbeing moving forward.

If you want to learn more about improving the workplace for your staff, get in touch with us today.


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Posted on: 8th November 2021