Autonomy at Work: Why Freedom is More Valuable Than Flexibility


And it spans everything from where and how people choose to work, to what they work on, when they do it, and how they deliver. Much as we welcome the current focus on flexibility, we think flexibility is the icing on the autonomy cake. At Runn, we encourage autonomy for every employee – and we reap the benefits. Your attempts to empower employee autonomy may go totally wrong if there is no clear direction and guidance on the decision-making process in your company.

  • This means delegating tasks and letting them handle them as they see fit.
  • An employee who is ready for more autonomy at work should meet or exceed, your expectations on a given task or project, every single time.
  • This might be why 6% of the employees surveyed named a sense of appreciation as the most important part of their happiness at work.
  • Listening can help to achieve autonomy because leadership is made aware of pain points and areas of success.
  • Case Studies See how innovative companies use BetterUp to build a thriving workforce.
  • The first step to creating a more autonomous work environment is to ensure your colleagues know the end outcome you’re aiming for.

Employees that are granted high autonomy by their organization by definition have greater access to flexibility because of the lack of geographic restrictions imposed on their work. Note that this does not mean that all high-autonomy employees will choose to exercise that flexibility by working in different locations, but simply that they could if they wanted to. The same cannot be said for employees granted a low degree of autonomy by their organization. One form of hybrid — working from home and the office, but with a mandated number of days per week in the office — is slowly becoming accepted as the most common version. Some of this may have to do with a high level of advocacy for this model by many large global organizations such as Adobe, Citigroup, and Google.

How to Implement Autonomy in Your Workplace

We know we get better results when people can choose their projects. So once we know what’s in the pipeline, we share it with the team and see who wants to do what. Then we use our own Runn software to schedule tasks, distribute work equitably, and make sure everything’s manageable. Our team works remotely all over the world so sticking to 9-5 working hours makes no sense.

  • Your attempts to empower employee autonomy may go totally wrong if there is no clear direction and guidance on the decision-making process in your company.
  • However, rather than watching over employees’ every move, granting autonomy at work will mean that employees gain ownership over what they do and how they do it.
  • This framework provides a great path toward energizing employees and making them feel like they belong.
  • As a project evolves, it may be necessary to adjust the original path.
  • The best use of money as a motivator in the workplace is to pay people enough so they don’t consider money an issue.

You’re giving your employees the freedom to pursue their passions and excel at them, leaving you with more time to do the same. Still, it will happen when you focus on creating more freedom for your workers. You will end up with the autonomy you’ve always wanted in the end. For the new rules and policies you adopt, think about how to create more trust and freedom.

Autonomy for One, Autonomy for All

Introducing daily practices to encourage accountability & transparency. We have a Slackchannel called daily check-in where we say hello, check how each other are doing and also, importantly, share what we are up to that day/week. As I have a portfolio career, I have the opportunity to work with different organisations in a variety of ways.

The resulting workplace culture of mutual trust is a setting for true innovation. The training manual focuses on how supervisors can help employees gain more control over their schedules while maintaining or improving productivity. Studies on employee autonomy have shown that workplaces that embrace it reap a multitude of positive outcomes. In the UK, the University of Birmingham found that employees with higher levels of autonomy in their work report positive effects on their overall well-being and higher levels of job satisfaction. Health Promotion International’s report shared similar findings but included that greater levels of autonomy often mean employees have fewer intentions to quit.

reasons to create autonomous teams

5 Ways To Give Workers More Autonomy engagement and work motivation naturally increase when team members have to make their own decisions. Learning a set of strict rules and sticking to them is a tedious way to work. This is even more true when employees are punished for deviating from the rules. Increased workplace autonomy embraces the concept that not everyone’s the same. Each member of a team may have a different approach, but that approach isn’t necessarily invalid.

A huge management challenge is the temptation to micromanage. You will have less visibility over their individual processes and their day-to-day progress. The first step to finding that right micro-to-autonomous managing balance is to trust your team. When managers asked their teams if they feel they are in control when it comes to the work they need to accomplish, 20% admit that they do not. Having an overall sense of agency over one’s day-to-day work is essential for employees to remain engaged. Managers need to look out for this stat because micromanaged employees can quickly fall on the dark path of becoming disengaged employees.

Focusing on enrichment can have some big advantages for your organisation and your employees alike — but there are some disadvantages too. Jobenrichmentis a method of job design that involves adding extra dimensions to a job to make it more interesting and motivating. The term was popularised by Frederick Hertzberg, a researcher working in the 1950s and 60s — but the same principles apply today. He median U.S. salary was $54,132 in the second quarter of 2022. Offering salaries much higher than that can help you attract employees. This article is for employers that are looking to maximize employee well-being.


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