A fairly ubiquitous principle in life is that happiness requires freedom. The same is true when it comes to work. To feel overly constricted or reliant on the permission of others simply isn’t conducive to job satisfaction. And not only do employees benefit from being afforded personal autonomy; employers will reap the rewards, too – we all know that a happy workforce makes for a productive workforce. Whether it’s the freedom to choose when to take their lunch breaks, or having more control over the sort of tasks they complete or role they occupy in the business, we’re finding more and more that this sort of employee autonomy results in improved workplace fulfilment and, therefore, a boost in output. Such a sense of independence will also reduce the likelihood of talented staff jumping ship, which is high on all HR teams’ agendas!
Levels of autonomy
The degree of autonomy you give your employees can vary dramatically, so it doesn’t mean giving staff free reign over all aspects of their jobs. Often, it simply comes down to avoiding micro-management. Rather than telling staff what to do, a manager should set the objectives, deadlines and overall direction, and allow members of the team to work out how to accomplish the job. Not only will this allow employees to grow; it also leaves you to concentrate on higher level activity that will help the organisation achieve its objectives. One of the simplest and most effective methods of granting employees a degree of autonomy is to give them increased authority when it comes to their time and attendance. Feeling like your own boss when it comes to organising your shifts could be the difference between enjoying your job and not. If shift patterns are unwavering, you could allow them to manage shift swaps or book holiday without going to a line manager. However, if it is feasible, allowing employees to decide how, where and when they work by offering flexible working will boost morale considerably by instilling them with a sense of trust.
Software to the rescue
If putting your employees in the driver’s seat when it comes to rostering seems unfathomable, perhaps it’s worth exploring how technology can help. Time and attendance software doesn’t just give employees the opportunity to clock in and out easily and book their annual leave. They can also monitor their own absence records and swap shifts seamlessly, sorting it among themselves – which, of course, cuts out the need for HR teams to act as a ‘middle man’. And if this can be done remotely, even better! Equipping employees with control over their working lives demonstrates a level of trust and a confidence in your team members’ abilities to make good decisions. As a result, you’ll see staff morale skyrocket and staff turnover subside.