10 Tips to Boost Productivity at Work.
How did one manufacturing plant raise its productivity by 20% in two months? They let their employees design their own uniforms. Well, that’s half of it. We all know that autonomy is a huge motivator. People desire to have control over their job’s and lives. What we sometimes don’t realize is that helping an employee enjoy a greater sense of autonomy doesn’t require a massive initiative. In Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit he cites a 2010 study at a manufacturing plant where employees were allowed to have authority over the scheduling of their shifts and were allowed to design their own uniforms. Everything else remained the same. After two months workers were taking shorter breaks, making fewer mistakes, and the productivity in this plant rose by 20%.

When people are allowed to exercise their autonomy it can have immediate positive benefits. As seen in the manufacturing plant, even little opportunities to exercise control can lead to staggering benefits.

Here are some quick ideas on how to help your employees enjoy more autonomy at work:

  1. When you give a task to be completed let your employees come up with how to do it.
  2. Seek their input on a pressing problem.
  3. Let employees design their work environment (layout or uniforms etc)
  4. Instead of purchasing equipment for them, give them a budget and let them research and choose themselves.
  5. When possible, give them the authority to hire and fire.
  6. Ask them to research and find a charity your company can partner with.
  7. Ask them to design their own rewards system for exceptional performance.
  8. Give them their own training budget and then let them decide how to spend it.
  9. Challenge your employees to find three ways they can bring some of their natural strengths to work which they currently don’t use.
  10. Give each employee the challenge of becoming a “go-to expert” in a specific area.

One last thing. Giving employees more autonomy sometimes means more mistakes. As employees try new things and new approaches they are bound to experience some failures. Be careful not to punish failure. Instead, reward the effort, the initiative, and the lessons learned from it.