It might seem counterintuitive to say that giving employees more freedom helps them to be more productive. Indeed, it certainly makes some logical sense that being more strict about work hours and other aspects of job performance would maximize employee input into company success. However, that assumption is problematic.
Challenging the status quo and giving employees room to grow and develop is not as difficult as it might seem. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Everyone Needs to Take a Break
One blogger recently asserted that people are more productive if they take more breaks at work. How is this different from wasting company time mindlessly clicking around on Facebook, you ask? Ali Luke, a writer for the productivity blog Dumb Little Man, asserts that it is not humanly possible for anyone to stay fully focused for eight full hours. Instead, she suggests that employees would benefit from regular planned breaks that help energize them, such as short breaks for exercise in the middle of a work day. Figuratively chaining employees to their desks thus backfires as a strategy to improve either company efficiency or personal accountability, since it does not allow employees the freedom to clear their heads and refocus on their tasks.
Work Can Happen Anywhere
Instead of relying on strict, outdated management policies, many experts recommend challenging the status quo to increase productivity. One recent study, for example, revealed that 38 percent of the workforce feels that they are at their most efficient when they are working from home. Without flexibility, such employees are unable to increase their personal accountability by working where they work best.
Timing isn’t Everything
Surveys have shown that “77 percent of employees report that they are sometimes or always burned out in their jobs” (read more here). Denying flexibility to such employees is likely to make them more burned out, and consequently less effective. Increasing employee freedom through such initiatives as flexible scheduling is likely to improve employee performance and personal accountability as well as departmental and company-wide success.
Freedom Fuels Innovation
Perhaps the most important connection that managers can make is the link between employee freedom and innovation. Whitney Johnson asserts, in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post entitled “Disrupt Yourself,” that great risk is the most fertile ground for innovation. If employees do not have freedom to make their own choices, then they do not have the opportunity to innovate. Johnson’s use of the buzz phrase “disruptive innovation” is telling. Perhaps allowing increased employee freedom is disruptive in some ways, but in the long term, many experts agree that it is the best way to improve the personal accountability of your employees and the growth of your company.