Enable autonomy to boost revenue – download the research report

Giving your team the freedom to make choices and self-direct can increase revenue growth and improve efficiency.

The pandemic didn’t just fundamentally change where we work. It has also changed attitudes – as more and more of us work from home, this has translated into a desire for greater autonomy in the workplace, a new research report has revealed. Yet there is a fundamental disconnect between most Australian SMEs’ current style of leadership and the autonomy their employees would like.

“50 per cent of managers believe it is more important now that employees are informed and aligned to their business’ goals.”

So, what is autonomy and how does it differ from empowerment, an often used term in employee engagement?  If empowerment gives people the authority to make decisions in certain aspects of their role, it is still limited and conditional.

Autonomy is bigger, broader. It’s a shared understanding of a business’ goals and business context, it gives people the trust to make decisions based on this understanding, and is backed up by management styles which judge on outcomes aligned to the goals, not simply outputs.

If having autonomy at work is the criteria through which employees will decide on their future employers, businesses which embrace this way of working are going to have the edge over their competitors.

The new business case for autonomy

The good news is that there is a clear business case for autonomy, too. The research examined three management styles control and command, empowerment and autonomy and found autonomy was the best model to achieve four out six important business outcomes.

“The starkest finding is the disconnect between managers’ view of their style and their perception of their business’ operations.”

Despite this, most SME businesses are twice as likely to work with a “command and control” model than an autonomous one. It is clear there is a growing disconnect between the way businesses operate, and the way their employees want them to. Successfully bridging this divide is what we call “the autonomy opportunity” for SMEs like yours.

You can find out more by downloading the research report Autonomy to the People. It covers:

  • Why autonomy is good for business.
  • Where employees want more autonomy.
  • Managers’ perception vs current organisational state.
  • The impact of the pandemic on employees’ expectations.