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Let go of control for more engaged employees

Sarah K. White | Jan. 7, 2016
If you want more engaged employees, trade micromanagement for autonomy and show confidence in your workforce.

After evaluating technological needs, managers should look at the culture in their department. This means you should look at how employees collaborate and consider if it's effective or broken. Harder also suggests evaluating the decision-making process with a critical eye to figure out if it runs smoothly and efficiently. It's also important to look at whether or not employees are allowed flexibility with working from home, time off or even breaks from their inboxes. You might also consider if the group needs blocks of time for concentration, which can be hard to come by in modern cube farms.

For example, "knowledge workers," as Jabra calls them, may need more long stretches of focus. In fact, 46 percent of respondents said that noise levels in the office were the biggest distraction during the day. The study found that these workers are interrupted, on average, every 10 minutes, and it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus on the task at hand. That means a lot of these employee are going home and getting the work done that they couldn't get done during the day so they don't fall behind, all because of their working environment. Giving these employees a quiet office space or the ability to work from home is an easy fix that can go a long way in improving productivity and feelings of autonomy.

Open spaces are over-rated

You might need to consider giving employees more individual space. Four out of 10 respondents said that open space working environments - which are common in the modern workplace - are the least productive way to work. It doesn't mean you need to get every employee an office, but you could consider cubicles that have walls high enough to give some sense of privacy. Essentially, the study said that after evaluating the needs of each department, business leaders can strike a balance between offering collaborative environments and quieter environments to suit the needs of each project or department.

After business leaders address culture and technology, they need to look at where value is created is in the organization. Harder says that many managers think they know, but the reality is that most don't. Once business leaders have a clear picture of where value creation truly lies, they can effectively review the autonomy of those workers.

As with most efforts aimed at reorganizing or improving the workplace, there are some initial costs. But the return on this investment is happier more productive employees who feel in control of their jobs and future. In the long run, happier employees can positively influence the bottom line of your company by driving better sales, customer service and innovation. "Less constraint means more output in today's world," Harder says.


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