Today marks Independence Day, the most symbolic national holiday in the United States. More than two centuries ago we declared our freedom as a nation and began to live as a sovereign state. Of course, the conception of an independence day is not unique to Americans. Almost every country in the world celebrates one.
Why is self-governance so renowned? We all share a desire to be independent, self-directed and autonomous. Independence allows us the freedom to be ourselves.
Independence is also coveted among workers. Employees, specifically those whose work requires them to manage multifaceted tasks, or to step in and solve complex problems, cherish the flexibility to do their work their way. The modern-day worker will accept broader responsibilities and more accountability in exchange for a self-directed, autonomous work style.
That’s not to say employees don’t want bosses or the specific direction they provide. Of course, they do. But companies who balance organizational controls (what needs to get done and what standards the work needs to meet) against employee freedom (how the goals get met) create a work experience that’s significantly better. They win the battle for the same customers (and often the same job candidates).
Research shows that when companies give their people more autonomy and more decision-making power they become more profitable. To provide employees with the autonomy and independence they seek, businesses should provide freedom across two dimensions; 1/how employees do their work and 2/ where they do it from. Below are a few thoughts on why each is important along with the role a web-driven social recognition system can play in making each a reality.
How employees do their work
Employees are people, of course. They are more different than they are alike. Each brings different ideas, ambitions and workstyles to the table. Channeling uniqueness, not uniformity, is what drives efficiency. Groups of people with diverse expertise and different points of view are better at solving complex, non-routine problems. When companies cultivate (rather than stifle) the type of intellectual diversity that exists within any workforce, they are actively nurturing the collective contribution that group can make.
Social recognition is the catalyst here. It allows companies and all the people within to recognize more than results. It gives them a platform by which they can celebrate the different ideas, viewpoints and approaches other employees have brought to their work.
By using social recognition businesses benefit in two ways. They help employees to feel free in how they exercise their talents in support of specific objectives and in many cases they also pass along that fresh thinking. Other employees gain here, of course. They learn from those ideas and can quickly put them to use against their own assignments.
Where they work
Human beings have become accustom to living in a connected manner. The vast majority of us (95%) own a connected device. Three quarters of us own a smart phone (up from just 35% a few short years ago). For good or bad, mobile devices have redefined independence. We now equate freedom with the ability to stay in touch no matter where we are.
Mobile devices have not only impacted the way we manage personal relationships, they have changed our relationship with work. The workday is no longer a 9-5 concept contained within a fixed block of time. Today’s employees have a 24/7 mindset.
In exchange for an “always on, always connected” commitment, they want the freedom to do their work from wherever their lives take them. The mobility of a web-based, social recognition system gives employers the tool they need to reward and acknowledge employees from anywhere at any time.