Despite all of the studies and statistics, American businesses will continue to micromanage employees into the ground in 2016. A 2014 study from Bamboo Human Resources showed that one of the top reasons employees left a previous job was due to poor work/life balance, which stems directly from poor management.
The traditional values of business — wear a suit, sit in a chair from 9 to 5, do what the boss tells you and don’t ask questions — are slowly creeping back into the 20th century where they belong. A successful CEO in Brazil even fired his managers and empowered his employees to hire their own superiors. Another CEO raised his company’s minimum salary to $70,000.
Maybe you’re not ready for such drastic measures, and that’s okay, but there are some easy, effective ways to empower your employees and greatly improve your company’s performance for the new year.
Support Personal Development
While poor work/life balance is one of the top reasons employees will leave a company, a lack of advancement and personal development opportunities is the number one reason workers will walk. Some of your employees will retire from your business, but most will eventually move on to other ventures. The sooner you acknowledge and support this, the happier and more productive your employees will become (and will likely end up staying much longer).
Send employees to conventions and conferences where they can learn industry practices and network with others. Encourage them to learn skills outside of their role with your company, or organize a schedule where workers can cross-train in other positions. Well-rounded employees are better for the workforce and your retention will improve as a positive side effect.
Give Them Autonomy
If you knew your employees could accomplish eight hours of work in only six, why make them hang around the office for the extra two? Does a workday have to start at 8 a.m. or 9? Why?
Listen, it’s your company and you set the rules, but don’t enforce them because “that’s the way it is.” Give your employees the opportunity to find the best practices and processes and implement them accordingly. Autonomy does not equal chaos; it simply gives power to the people on the ground floor who know the ins and outs better than any manager could see from his or her corner office.
As Heidi Grant Halvorson discusses in Forbes, you can still have control over your workforce and give employees autonomy and freedom at the same time. It all comes down to letting them come to you with the best process, not the other way around.
Enforce Fearless Feedback
Let’s face it, your employees are not telling you what they really think, and it’s obvious why: fear of consequence. No one in your company can improve if they don’t have the freedom to give and receive honest, specific feedback.
It’s time to implement a policy of fearless feedback, where employees and management are encouraged (even expected) to give specific positive and constructive feedback every day. This goes beyond “good job” or “I don’t like this.” The why is more important than the what, as it serves as a guide for improvement and continues to build a relationship of trust.