By Keryn Gold, PhD-
Trusting employees to choose the work schedule and location that maximizes their productivity may be scary and require mutual trust, but the data shows the advantages far outweigh the risks. Organizations, leaders and employees can, with mutual trust, clarity of expectations and enabling systems and processes, empower each other to create win-wins and deliver transformational value while having the ability to make choices that optimize their productivity and well-being. The best versions of everyone show up to work—without having to clone anyone.
Accelerate Results with Less Burnout
Who among us hasn’t at some point felt like we needed to clone ourselves, or wished for more hours in the day so we could get everything done and still be present for our loved ones? Everyone has different personal and professional needs and obligations, and employers can’t possibly be expected to fully understand and come up with a single solution that meets everyone’s needs—unless they leave that determination up to each individual employee.
Mutual Trust is the Foundation
Mutual trust is the bedrock upon which effective communication, collaboration and productivity are built. While there are certainly challenges associated with employee-driven work arrangements like management mistrust, combating worker isolation, ensuring data security and concerns about career impact from “out of sight, out of mind” fears, they are all mitigatable and the benefits far outweigh the concerns.
Select Benefits for Employers
Enhanced productivity: Trusting employees to manage their own schedules and work environments allows them to optimize their productivity. Approximately 77% of remote workers report increased productivity versus working in person.
Talent attraction and retention: Flexibility attracts a wider talent pool that is geographically unbound, and 97% of employees want to work remotely when it suits them.
Reduced costs: Flexible work arrangements mitigate the $10,000-$30,000 per employee attrition cost ($300B+/year). Reduced turnover, fewer unscheduled absences and increased employee satisfaction also contribute to long-term cost savings. When employees feel valued, they get more done and are more creative, enabling more rapid innovation cycles.
Select Benefits for Employees
Work-life balance: Trust empowers employees to create a work-life balance that suits their individual needs. Flexible work arrangements provide the flexibility to accommodate personal obligations, leading to improved mental health, reduced stress and increased job satisfaction.
Autonomy and empowerment: Providing employees with the option to choose their ideal work environment fosters greater ownership of their work, a sense of empowerment, creativity and innovation, enabling individuals to thrive professionally and more rapidly achieve their (and the organization’s) goals.
Improved health: Roughly 80% of diseases have stress as a trigger. Flexibility reduces stressful commutes, exposure to ill coworkers and alleviates caregiver separation issues, and 25% of teleworkers report improved health. By having control and being able to be present and choose the work environment that best meets their needs, employees are enabled to thrive in a world that feels increasingly out of control, reducing stress and burnout.
Nurturing Mutual Trust
To establish a culture of trust, autonomy and ownership, leaders and individual contributors can:
- Clearly communicate expectations and goals, ensuring alignment and understanding.
- Foster meaningful connections through regular check-ins, virtual team meetings, asynchronous collaboration, brainstorming and training tools and technology.
- Establish systems and processes that promote transparency, consistency and fairness.
- Recognize and value employees’ contributions, empowering them to take ownership of their work.
Food for Thought
Employees at all levels of an organization are most effective when they feel heard, understood, trusted and empowered to make choices that optimize their productivity and well-being. Mutual trust unlocks employee potential, improves productivity, speeds innovation, enhances talent retention and reduces costs.
Creating a culture of trust requires a shift in mindset, but it’s the key to unlocking the full potential of employees and reaping myriad benefits to organizations, leaders and individual contributors alike. When companies get this right, they see that they and their people truly can have it all: accelerated success, engaged and motivated employees, and work/life balance, with only minor modifications in how they operate—but it can’t happen without mutual trust.