Want to improve retention? Give your employees freedom!

AHRI has found in their research that since 2012, turnover rates have been on the rise once again. Despite this rise, there is one thing that gets employees to stay - freedom.

What kind of freedom do employees want?

There are so many areas in each employee's career that can be overhauled with a bit of freedom:

Freedom in when and where they work

Many years ago it wasn't possible to work from home or to work while you were travelling. Now everyone can work wherever and whenever they want through the power of technology. Of course, this doesn't need to be quite as drastic as working while travelling interstate but it can give employees a certain amount of freedom when it comes to needing to be at home with their family while they work. 51.16% of respondents in AHRI's study said that flexible work options were something that their workplaces were putting into place to improve retention - so it's clear that this is important to plenty of employees.

Work doesn't have to be limited to the office anymore - nor does it need to be limited to the hours between 9am and 5pm. To give employees real freedom and a feeling of control over their work, employers can stop asking whether an employee is sitting at their desk for 8 hours straight and start asking whether the work is being completed both on time and to a high quality. The focus then goes off the 'rules' of a workplace and onto simply 'getting the job done'.

Freedom in how they work

Everyone works differently and communicates differently; giving employees the freedom to work in the way that they find effective can make employees feel as though they have a certain level of autonomy over their work. It can be rather disheartening for many employees to feel like they are not able to inject their own touch into their work so giving them the option to work in the way they find best can be a huge factor when it comes to retention and boosting employee engagement. After all, not everyone thrives when they need to give a presentation, standing in front of a group of people. Letting employees use their skills and creativity can help them to be satisfied with their job.

Of course, it's not always possible to give full freedom in every area, but it's important to provide freedom where you can and to clearly establish this freedom during employee onboarding.

Freedom to pursue passions

Providing opportunities for the career development of employees is extremely important. In fact, in AHRI's study, they found that 61% of workplaces were actively seeking out these opportunities to retain their employees.

Allowing employees to pursue any areas of interest they may have means that they feel valued, appreciated and they know that their employers care about their future. Instead of becoming stagnant in a job after a year or so, they can be continually learning and developing and having an employer that cares about their future is a huge draw card for many employees. Atlassian and Google do this with remarkable success - their employee engagement scores are renowned as higher than industry benchmarks.

Bring some freedom to the table to improve employee engagement and keep your employees for longer.

All these areas of freedom are important on their own but together they contribute to the general happiness and success of your whole team. After 'good relationships with colleagues', 'job satisfaction' was cited as the second highest reason people stay with their employer and this job satisfaction can be greatly improved by giving employees freedom in all of these areas.

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Greg Weiss is one of Australia’s most renowned career coaches. He is the author of “So You Got A Job, WTF Is Next”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7 step guideline for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at https://www.wtfisnext.wtf/

He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.

Greg also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.