Workplace Autonomy (Part1)

Have you ever known anyone who likes working for a micromanager?

I didn’t think so.

Experts agree that workers who feel free to make choices, while still being held accountable for the results, are happier, more productive and are more likely to remain working for their employer for a longer period of time. There is also ample behavioral research to support the positive outcomes that result from increased workplace autonomy.

Autonomy means many different things depending on the circumstances in which organizations and leaders must deal with each day. Clearly, not everyone can allow all team members to set there own work schedules or decide if they are always going to work from home. However, there are many benefits that organizations will experience by effectively and thoughtfully incorporating more autonomy for team members into their culture, including:

Higher levels of employee satisfaction – A 2004 study by Deci and Ryan found that employees at an investment bank found greater job satisfaction when they were given more choices over what to do and how to do it. Autonomy has a powerful effect on performance and attitude.

Increased productivity – The same research showed a direct correlation between higher job satisfaction and higher performance. This is especially true when the work is more complex or requires more creativity.

More passion and creativity – Research has also shown a direct connection between higher levels of passion and increased creativity. Google screens its hires for passion, which combined with its much-touted culture that emphasizes creativity has generated astounding results.

Lower turnover – Organizations that have a reputation for encouraging and embracing worker autonomy are able to attract and retain better talent, which has a direct result on….

A better bottom line – A recent study of 320 small businesses by Cornell University showed that businesses that offered worker autonomy grew at four times the rate and had one-third the turnover compared with those that did not give workers as much freedom.

In my next post, I’ll offer thoughts on determining the state of autonomy on your team.