Employee Freedom: What Works?

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If Google are anything to go by, employee freedom is the way forward. At the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, employees are made to feel like their jobs are less like work – free food, fitness facilities, massage rooms, hair dressers, laundry rooms and on-site medical care. And it pays off, making them the fourth best company to work for according to Fortune.

It’s no longer just about the paycheck for employees – they want to trust in leadership, have pride in their work, enjoy their colleagues, and see their company as fair and transparent – according to research by the Great Place to Work Institute. But how can you make your employees feel this way and make their wellbeing your priority?

Embrace new attitudes to working for starters. Rather than follow the inflexible approach taken by Yahoo, let your employees work from home if they want to. Studies have shown that employees who work from home tend to be more productive and have better morale. Not surprising really – they’re freed from the daily commute, spend more time with their families and work in an environment that is familiar and relaxing. If you’re planning on having a large remote workforce it’s work checking out Ericom.com for some great remote desktop access software.

Also, don’t forget to sit down with your employees and ask what they want. They might like to work slightly different hours or work on certain projects. Google famously give their workers the freedom to spend 20% of their time on ‘passion projects’ and, given that Gmail, Adsense and Google News were all products of these projects, it clearly wasn’t a bad idea. Think about ways you can harbour this creative potential to your company’s benefit.

Shortening the working day and playing with the standard vacation model can also help your staff feel freer. Netflix for example don’t focus on how many days people work but how much they get done when they are there. Shorter days can motivate people to get more done in less time rather than procrastinating for periods over the day. The New Economics Foundation has advised that the working week be cut from 30 to 40 hours to reduce time poverty and improve relationships and mental health.

Not all these solutions will work for every business but listening to your employees will be the best place to start.



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