Support Workplace Autonomy with InsightfulWhat Does Autonomy in the Workplace Look Like?
For some, the idea of total freedom in the workplace still evokes an image of chaos; but the reality is that this style of working has already been implemented throughout many organizations. The arrival of the COVID pandemic shook up our priorities. Suddenly people found themselves at home in quarantine under a cloud of uncertainty, struggling to maintain work, their health, childcare, and the health of their entire family.
During this time employers had little choice but to grant employees more flexibility and greater autonomy, making it an unintended experiment. Both employers and employees rose to the challenge, and as pandemic restrictions continue to die down, we can see the push to make remote and hybrid working models permanent. In fact, 6 out of 10 workers say they would not work for a company that requires them to come into a physical office five days per week. These flexible working models require more autonomy to function effectively.
For those still fearing chaos, it’s important to understand that workplace autonomy still has an overarching structure. Employees are still focused on their personal goals and team objectives, the difference lies in their ability to choose when and how they manage their workload. They still need to meet their targets in a certain timeframe, but they achieve these goals with less micromanagement and in a way that is most suitable for their independent working habits.
Working in this fashion replaces the traditional work hierarchy with a sense of community. This changes employees’ relationship with work. It allows them to feel more connected to the work they do and more of a sense of ownership for it.
How to Empower Your Employees
According to empowerment theory, intrinsic motivation to complete tasks is driven by four pillars: feelings of competence, autonomy, purpose, and impact.
With this in mind, how can your organization support these pillars and empower employees?
Increase Employee Competence
Naturally, employees feel more confident in their work when they know what they are doing. It may seem obvious, but according to research conducted by Gartner Inc., 70% of employees have not mastered the skills they need for their jobs today. This is pretty disconcerting. For employers to ensure their employees are equipped with the skills they need to do their jobs they should implement a systematic training model.
A good training scheme is absolutely essential to support workplace autonomy. For employees to work independently, they have to at least be confident in their ability to carry out their tasks. In addition, strong training programs boost productivity, increase employee engagement, and increase employee retention. According to a 2019 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if there is investment in their learning and development.
Increase Employee Autonomy
During COVID, micromanagement was rendered impractical by remote working setups. To compensate, many employers scheduled frequent meetings to check up on employees and their work status. While some regular meetings are important to maintain relationships and touch base on progress, employees can quickly become overwhelmed by an onslaught of unnecessary meetings.
Of 182 people surveyed by the University of North Carolina: 65% said meetings keep them from completing their work, 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient, and 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. Micromanagement in this case reduces productivity, increases stress on employees, and prevents them from having the time they need for deep and insightful thinking - exactly the type that spurs innovation.
Once competency through solid training programs is implemented, employers can have faith that their employees have the skills they need to do their jobs without constant check-ins.
Ensure a Sense of Purpose
When employees feel a sense of purpose connected to their work, it provides the energy and direction they need to continue to drive their work forward and improve on it. When employees feel connected to their work they are able to execute tasks with better intent, which in turn manifests better outcomes, not to mention better employee satisfaction.
Companies who don’t neglect their intangible assets end up with employees with better wellbeing, who are more resilient and engaged. These attributes are connected largely to an employee’s sense of purpose. Since COVID has entwined our work and personal lives more than ever, it is becoming increasingly more important for employees to feel that the work they do is meaningful.
One way to do this is to make sure your employees are able to see the bigger picture. It’s important that all employees understand not only their personal and team targets and goals, but also how they fit into the company’s larger objectives. This demonstrates to employees how their work is contributing to the overarching goal of the company. By implementing a culture of continuous improvement, employees are given a sense of ownership for their work, are motivated to improve practices, and can clearly see how it affects the system as a whole.
This goes hand in hand with an employee’s sense of purpose. In order to sustain that sense of purpose, employees need to see exactly how their work has made an impact. They need to see that they are making a difference. Again, implementing a culture of continuous improvement allows employees to see the entire cycle of their work and how it affects the mission and vision of the company.
Performance monitoring is an important factor of continuous improvement. It is necessary to clearly see the effectiveness of changes made to procedures. This is how best practices are developed. Digital tools for metrics and visualization are essential to this process. Business intelligence tools and even work from home monitoring tools provide valuable insight into the impact of employee performance. These insights are presented in a simple and visually appealing way for all employees.
In addition to metrics, employee recognition programs are important to demonstrate employee impact. Sixty-three percent of employees report that managers do not recognize their achievements. Establishing clear incentives help drive motivation and are a staple for maintaining engagement and morale in the workplace.
It's important to note that these four pillars are interconnected, all of them help to support one another to create a cohesive foundation for employee empowerment that supports greater workplace autonomy.
How Can Greater Workforce Autonomy Benefit Your Business?
More Satisfied, Engaged, and Productive Employees
Greater autonomy in the workplace really adds value to intangible assets. Employees with more autonomy feel a greater sense of satisfaction and are more engaged. Engaged employees experience the purpose and motivation they need and are more productive.
Better Work Life Balance
When employees have the autonomy to manage their workload in a way that is suitable for them, they are better able to balance their work lives and their personal lives. In addition, this does wonders at preventing employee burnout, which can be severely detrimental to both employers and employees.
Increased Retention Rates
When employees feel empowered and productive at work they are more likely to stay with the company. The combination of learning and development with a sense of purpose and impact increases the likelihood that employees will stay loyal to the company and develop within the organization rather than without.
Encourages Innovative Thinking and Leadership Qualities
Evidence shows that innovation is higher when employees have more autonomy. They are more persistent in overcoming problems for projects that they have full ownership over. Often managers are nervous about handing over control to employees out of fear that they may neglect their tasks. But when you have a culture based on organizational trust and work to empower your employees, they have the motivation necessary to put forth the effort and take control of their own projects.
Employee autonomy encourages independent thought, problem-solving, creative thinking and productive teamwork. All of these skills are foundational leadership skills. By giving your workforce the freedom to work autonomously, you’re also giving them room to grow within the company, boosting internal mobility.
Empower Your Employees with Digital Tools
For employees to work autonomously they need to be supported by the right tools. It’s important to balance autonomy with communication, feedback and ownership. Luckily, there are a variety of tools and software available that can help you empower your workforce.
For increasing workforce competence, a good onboarding system and/or learning and development platform is key to ensuring your employees are equipped with all the skills they need to perform their jobs with as little intervention as possible. A good LMS allows you to create and deliver course materials, provides easy registration for students, tracks and analyzes user data, provides performance-based tasks, and has sufficient communication channels for the instructor and learner.
Increase workforce competence with these tools:
- Absorb is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) engineered to inspire learning and fuel business productivity.
- Knolyx is a cloud-based training system which allows companies to create and manage online and offline training courses for their employees, partners, and customers.
- Looop is an online learning platform (LMS) that makes it easy to create and publish learning resources for your workplace or organization.
Employee engagement is the glue that holds the company together, so having effective employee engagement software is essential for your workforce to work autonomously while staying connected and collaborating with colleagues.
Employee engagement software often includes a variety of tools like: training tools, employee recognition and incentives, surveys and feedback, notifications, communication channels, and performance evaluation.
Support workforce collaboration with these tools:
- Lattice transforms your people strategy by connecting performance management, employee engagement, and career development in one unified solution.
- You can also empower your teams and fuel positive change with employee engagement, performance, and development tools with Culture Amp’s all in one intuitive platform.
Employee autonomy and wellbeing are interdependent. For employees to do their best work they need to be happy, healthy, and in a good frame of mind. Company wellness programs boost morale, increase productivity, and decrease absenteeism. Employers can support employee wellbeing by implementing wellness initiatives within the company.
Support employee wellbeing with these tools:
- Wellable's wellness platform helps organizations build engaging employee wellness programs, elevate employee experience, and transform cultures.
- Limeade's employee well-being programs are tailored to your culture and grounded in science to create happier, healthier workforces.
The goal of workplace autonomy is to have high-performing autonomous teams who work in alignment with business goals. For employees to maintain self-governance and justify organizational trust, it's important to have good performance measurement tools. This allows employees to track their own performance and make adjustments as needed.
For companies with employees who already work from home employee monitoring software can be leveraged further to give employees more flexibility and autonomy at work. For example, time tracking for remote employees is a useful feature that automatically documents employee hours. For many companies who have already implemented remote or hybrid working models, software for employee time tracking is already a staple.
Support employee self-governance with Insightful.
Insightful is workforce analytics & productivity software that helps organizations unlock operational efficiency through the power of work data. Insightful also allows employees to work in a more informed way with their own work data and drive improvement from the ground up.
By providing insight into employee productivity, managers can rest assured knowing that employees are able to self-govern and manage their workloads in a way that works for them - with the data to back it up. Insightful’ working from home software efficiently tracks effort, supports daily performance and professional growth, and leverages the playing field for hybrid employees.
Work from home monitoring software and similar tools have evolved beyond only supporting employers in managing remote employees. These tools now provide employees with the peace of mind employers need to offer permanent flexibility. The tools can now be leveraged for remote, hybrid, and in-office employees to provide your entire workforce with more autonomy.