When companies think about flexibility for employees, they often think about flexible work arrangements, such as different schedules or the ability to work remotely. But there’s more to flexibility than where and when employees spend their time. Flexibility can also address how employees spend their time working toward their job goals.
Explore how flexibility works for your company.
Research on employee empowerment as a tool for engagement dates to the 1990s, where employee empowerment became a buzzword for companies across the United States. Empowerment through flexibility is more important than ever for employees and for employees who manage others. Identify points of stress for employees and explore how flexibility around these stressors can lead to a decrease in burnout and support employee empowerment. In addition, train managers on the value of flexibility and develop methods to evaluate how managers are encouraging flexibility.
Promote employee autonomy but provide guidance.
Management style is a key factor influencing workplace culture. Different management styles influence the degree to which employees play a decision-making role, how information is exchanged between management and employees, and how employees receive support from management. Management styles impact how employees perceive themselves and their workplaces, and these perceptions impact their behaviors. Micro-managing employees (spending an exorbitant amount of time controlling details and processes) makes employees feel less engaged. Not managing employees at all can make employees feel aimless and checked out. Managers should strive for a middle ground, where they set goals and offer resources to help employees accomplish goals without prescribing exact ways to do that.
Allow employees to have input on decisions.
Employees who participate in decision-making are more engaged, motivated, and productive. In addition, they strengthen their communication and problem-solving skills. Employee participation in decision-making also means exposure to information that will inform their daily decisions and performance. Employees overall feel a sense of inclusion and self-efficacy when they have some influence on their workplace outputs, policies, and practices (high involvement practices). Employers should consider implementing a shared decision-making process in which supervisors and their direct reports clearly define and negotiate their roles, responsibilities, and support needs in writing on an annual basis.
Use 360 reviews to evaluate managers.
Employees should have the opportunity to provide feedback on their managers and how they have supported them in the past year. It varies from traditional performance assessment tools—where managers only provide feedback to direct reports—and allows for more employee flexibility and engagement.