Employee autonomy as a key driver for employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity.
Employees' motivation has a high impact on their actual job performance and is, therefore, key to an organization's success. Besides extrinsic motivation through compensation, benefits, or feedback, also intrinsic motivation has a high impact on employee performance and job morale.
Within the self-determination theory, Ryan and Deci (2000) point out that one of the key drivers that boost intrinsic motivation is autonomy. Job autonomy is defined as the ability of employees to decide where, when, and how the job is to be done (Clark, 2001). The findings of multiple studies provide strong evidence for the importance of job autonomy in the lives of employees. It was revealed that employees with higher levels of autonomy at work reported positive effects on their overall well-being, job satisfaction, job retention, work commitment, work productiveness as well as less stress and work-family conflicts (Thompson and Prottas, 2006; Wheatley, 2017).
One of the main factors that influence the employees to work autonomously is the management strategy. Managers who psychologically empower employees through supporting and motivating them have, as a result, employees that are eager to take ownership and strive for excellence (Gagné and Bhave, 2011). To highlight the importance of Leadership in this matter, Bill Gates once said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others” (Hocine and Zhang, 2014).
Next to the psychological enablement by the management, another important aspect of workforce enablement is the availability of the right tools, resources, equipment, skills, etc. Making sure that your organization provides the resources employees need to do their job is the main requirement to allow them to do it autonomously and effectively.
Even though companies are facing several challenges, empowering employees and supporting their autonomy is essential in order to ensure sustainable organizational motivation in this highly competitive market economy (Stone et al., 2009).
To gain valid insights on how employees perceive their autonomy and enablement at work and to make data-driven decisions, we recommend using Leapsome’s Autonomy and Enablement Survey. The survey is based on the scientific concepts which were described above and consists of 13 Items that are differentiated into three categories: Autonomy Resources, Autonomy Responsibility, and Autonomy and Enablement.
- The information I need to do my job well is available.
- Due to the equipment and training provided by [Company], I feel enabled to deliver exceptional results.
- I have the methods and tools I need to do my job well.
- I have the skills that are required to do my job well.
- I am given enough freedom to decide how to do my daily work.
- I have the opportunity to decide how to schedule my tasks.
- I have sufficient authority to make necessary work-related decisions myself.
- I feel responsible for the success of my projects/tasks.
- My manager trusts me with a high level of responsibility.
- My manager gives me the support I need to successfully complete my tasks.
- My manager clearly explains tasks and expected results to me.
- My manager encourages me to come up with ideas to improve processes.
- How can your manager support you to work more self-sufficiently?
To evaluate the results, we recommend using the various analytics tools you can find in Leapsome’s survey module. Further guidance on how to effectively use the tools can be found in this article.
Based on the findings from your surveys, you have the chance to take action (for example, using action items) to increase your employee enablement and autonomy at work.
As a result, scientists agree on the fact that your company will benefit from intrinsically motivated employees that are more productive and creative. Also, they will have developed an increased sense of belonging to your organization and strive to contribute to your company's growth and success (Hocine and Zhang, 2014).
Clark, Sue Campbell. “Work Cultures and Work/Family Balance.” Journal of Vocational behavior 58.3 (2001): 348-365.
Gagné, Marylène, and Devasheesh Bhave. “Autonomy in the Workplace: An Essential Ingredient to Employee Engagement and Well-Being in Every Culture.” Human autonomy in cross-cultural context. Springer, Dordrecht, 2011. 163-187.
Hocine, Zakaria, and Jian Zhang. “Autonomy Supportive Leadership: A New Framework for Understanding Effective Leadership through Self-Determination Theory.” International Journal of Information Systems and Change Management 7.2 (2014): 135-149.
Ryan, Richard M., and Edward L. Deci. “Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being.” American psychologist 55.1 (2000): 68.
Stone, Dan N., Edward L. Deci, and Richard M. Ryan. “Beyond Talk: Creating Autonomous Motivation through Self-Determination Theory.” Journal of general management 34.3 (2009): 75-91.
Thompson, Cynthia A., and David J. Prottas. “Relationships among Organizational Family Support, Job Autonomy, Perceived Control, and Employee Well-Being.” Journal of occupational health psychology 11.1 (2006): 100. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-89184.108.40.206
Wheatley, Daniel. “Autonomy in Paid Work and Employee Subjective Well-Being.” Work and Occupations 44.3 (2017): 296-328.