What is workplace autonomy and why is it so important
Autonomy at work means giving employees space and freedom to work in their own way. This can look different from one organisation to the next, but when done correctly it can have a significant benefit on employee performance and wider company culture.
What is workplace autonomy?
Autonomy in the workplace means trusting employees to get the job done without micromanagement. It specifically relates to the pace at which work is completed, the order work is completed and giving employees space and freedom to work with their own approach.
Workplace autonomy embraces the fact that everyone works differently but no approach is invalid.
Why is workplace autonomy so important?
Strict rules and micromanagement can damage leadership trust, stifle creativity of employees, and produce unnecessary performance pressure. However, encouraging autonomy through putting trust in the team brings many benefits including improving the workplace environment and team confidence.
More specifically, the benefits include:
Improved job satisfaction
Employees that can function at their own pace and in their own way are more likely to feel satisfied. Each task they complete and is completed well provides a feeling of achievement, and so provides more opportunity to feel fulfilled.
Engagement and motivation naturally increase when people need to make their own decisions.
Working within a predefined set of strict rules and being punished for deviating from them is a draining way to work. Whereas, tackling tasks with freedom is refreshing and stimulating, providing more opportunities for using problem solving and creative thinking.
Employees working with freedom typically deliver above expectations as they want to prove they deserve the trust they’ve been given.
Improved employee retention
Increased workplace autonomy and job satisfaction creates happier employees. Happy employees are less likely to seek new roles at different companies, therefore employee turnover is reduced.
Higher employee retention rates also decrease workplace distractions through teams staying whole and less time invested into recruiting and onboarding. Additionally, teams that have worked together for a longer period of time are more likely to work efficiently due to existing rapport and awareness of each team member’s work approach.
An employee that is given autonomy has increased motivation, more desire to achieve, and is more likely to engage with work, this inevitably leads to an improvement in productivity.
Employees that are empowered through autonomy can be creative and set out to achieve professional goals in their own way. Reaching these goals will advance the entire business.
Developed leadership qualities in employees
Environments where employees have freedom are the most effective for skill development. Giving employees autonomy results in them developing self-reliance and resilience to get the job done. These are 2 very crucial leadership skills.