Autonomy: The Key Ingredient in Job Satisfaction

Posted by Talent Intelligence on Mon, Aug 16, 2021 @ 22:08 PM
Are you looking to improve job satisfaction? Employee autonomy can be what your organization needs to keep employees happy. Here's how to make it happen.

richard-bagan-IRJHnNzGBRQ-unsplash-1As employers continue to think about the future of work, hybrid teams and remote work, thoughts about employee autonomy often come up. Autonomy can lead to a high level of job satisfaction, but employers often struggle to give up control. Keep reading for insights into what employee autonomy is, the benefits of autonomy and how it leads to job satisfaction.

Micromanagement Vs. Employee Autonomy

As we think about autonomy, it's great to start the conversation by discussing its opposite.

Micromanagement is a form of management where company leaders have an issue letting go of small work details that employees should control. Micromanaging leaders often find themselves working long hours or being unable to scale their teams effectively. These leaders want frequent check-ins with their employees or take on many job duties and burn out easily.

Employee autonomy gives company leaders their lives back while giving employees more control over their day-to-day lives. Workers with autonomy are able to make key decisions (and sometimes mistakes) that advance their careers and propel the company forward. Autonomy helps employees feel like they have ownership over their careers and job functions, making them more excited about their work.

As you think about micromanagement vs. autonomy, consider who these two styles have played a role in your time at your current organization. Do you need to take stock of your organizational culture to reduce micromanagement across your company?

5 Benefits of Employee Autonomy

Now that you are aware of what autonomy does let's cover some of the benefits of giving your employees autonomy over their work lives.

Improves Employee Trust With The Organization And Company Leaders

You've probably heard the phrase trust is a two-way street once or twice in your life. Autonomy and trust go hand-in-hand. There are even books on the importance of trust in the workplace. Employers need to trust employees and vice versa.

Autonomy enables employees to trust and grow with your organization.

Creates Innovation and New Idea Generation at Work

Are you giving your employees an opportunity to do things their way? If you are always telling them what to do, they can't innovate and generate new ideas. Giving employees autonomy allows them to create new ways of thinking and accomplishing workplace tasks. You may have been doing an activity longer than an employee, but a new set of eyes can help you create efficiency gains you wouldn't have thought of.

Builds Learning Opportunities that Excel Your Organization

If you're like most people, a parent or guardian probably told you about the potential of failure to discourage you from taking risks. You may have decided to forego their warning and ended up making the mistake they warned you about anyways. As hard as that was on your parents, they had to let you make that mistake.

Mistakes make employees better. Mistakes create some of the best learning opportunities, even if they aren't easy to watch. As long as employees aren't making million-dollar mistakes, it's okay to give them a level of autonomy to learn and grow in the job.

Creates Future Company Leaders

Autonomy gives you the ability to see employees in the best light possible. Company leaders need to be organized and think on their feet. When you allow for workplace autonomy, you get to see the clearest version of who your employees are and how they will react.

Mixing autonomy with opportunities to lead small team efforts, you will quickly see who the best people to invest in are. Succession planning isn't easy, especially when turnover happens quickly. With autonomous employees, you'll quickly be able to spot the leaders who can take over after a leader exits the company.

Increases Feelings of Ownership From Employees

We want employees to feel like they own their job duties. Ownership ensures that employees work smarter to get the best results for the organization. When employees feel like they are being micromanaged, they may not be as likely to go above and beyond for their organization.

you-x-ventures-1609785-unsplash-1How Autonomy Leads to Job Satisfaction

Now let's move into the next stage of today's discussion. How does autonomy impact job satisfaction? Employees want to feel like their employers trust and value them. Giving them the ability to tackle workplace issues without jumping in and casting employee value aside is a pivotal part of showing them that you trust them.

When employees feel like they are more than just a number or a cog in a machine, they can truly begin to feel job satisfaction.

Think about Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs as it relates to employees. To get to the highest part of the hierarchy (self-actualization), where employees can maximize their truest potential, employees need to have esteem. Esteem dictates that employees feel appreciated and valued in their work, and that starts with autonomy.

Create a Guiding Light (And Let Employees Find Their Way to It)

Your company can have a mission, vision and values that guide how you interact with customers and each other. You have the ability to create a structure in which employees feel like they are contributing to the company's great good.

Create that guiding light, but give employees the autonomy to accomplish it in their way. Employees don't have to practice gratitude for their colleagues or celebrate customers the same way that you do. Provide the framework, then step back and let them do the rest of the work. Giving this freedom will help you feel in control while leaving the bulk of the work to employees.

Job Satisfaction Is Ultimately the Most Important

If we think about the big picture of micromanagement vs. autonomy, we have to think about the importance of job satisfaction. Employees want to feel satisfied with their work. As company leaders, we have to let employees do the job in the way that they know how or risk employee turnover or disengagement.

It can be hard to give up control in the workplace, but we should be willing to do so to improve employee tenure and job satisfaction.

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Topics: Employee Engagement

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