This article was originally published on the WorkForce blog. 


How to make your employees happier, more passionate, and more productive without spending a dime on payroll.


Marnie didn’t feel like waiting for the elevator. She took the stairs.

She
made
her way
down the
steps quickly.
Two flights and a
walk-down-the-hallway later, she was where she needed to be, right on time.

Marnie walked into her manager’s office, closed the door, and sat down.

“I’m sorry, Lisa,” she said. “I have to put in my two weeks.”

“You’re resigning?” Lisa said, surprised. “Marnie, you just got a raise…”

“I know, and I appreciate it, but it’s not about the money.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

Lisa didn’t want to lose Marnie.

She received that raise for a reason…

But did Marnie want the raise?

Or did money take a backseat to other employment factors?

Was Marnie after something else, something less tangible yet equally—if not more —valuable?

Like most modern professionals, Marnie was eager for a workplace shift. Specifically, she wanted more:

1. Autonomy

Lisa was good at giving Marnie goals to achieve, but failed when it came to giving her the freedom to accomplish those goals independently, on her own terms.

Marnie resented working in a box. She resented the micro-management, the constant check-ins. It robbed her of the intrinsic drive she needed to be happy at work, engaged. It made the job less rewarding.

That’s no way to make an employee feel. In Marnie’s case, a little autonomy would’ve gone a long way. As a manager, you can provide your employees some autonomy by:

Explaining every goal’s intended value.

Although it’s often overlooked, the path to autonomy begins with this conversation.

Before asking someone to commit themselves to a goal, be sure to expound on the consequences of being successful. Intrinsic motivation, after all, is born out of passion, which can be hard to come by if you don’t understand the impact of your efforts—on yourself, your company, or even your community.

Creating a blueprint, then stepping back.

As a manager, you’re the architect. You set the parameters of each project, the deadlines and the end-goals. It’s your strategy, your vision.

Your autonomous employees, then, should be trusted to fill in the blanks any way that works for them. As long as their approach is within your parameters and accomplishes the goal, there’s no harm in relinquishing control.

Letting employees tailor a unique, individual approach to their goals.

Give your people a chance to develop their own strategies, their own approach. An employee’s autonomy will empower him or her while also providing you with a fresh perspective to inform your decisions moving forward.

“Empower your people by giving them a chance to develop their own strategy, their own approach to achieving a goal.”

2. Flexibility

Marnie, like most millennials, wanted to work for a manager that considered her work-life balance. Having a clear personal and professional divide was a priority for Marnie, who felt more productive, less stressed, and generally happier if she could “turn off” after each work day.

Working under Lisa, however, left Marnie feeling anything but balanced. The demanding, unpredictable schedule made her miserable, stunting her creativity, ambition, and potential.

That’s why, if possible, it’s important to give your employees a degree of control when it comes to when, where, and how they work. You can do this by:

Focusing on the results.

As a manager, you’re a professional communicator; you know how to clearly articulate goals and objectives to your team members. You’re the quarterback—and to be efficient and effective, you have to trust your receivers to get to the ball.

Don’t become overly concerned with how your people achieve the goals you set out for them. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter as much as the end result, the final product. Try not to worry about where they’re doing the work, either.

Instead, focus on creating a culture that values the destination more than the journey.

Breaking their 9-to-5 chains.

We’re all unique snowflakes, right? Some of us are more productive in the morning while others come alive at night. Some of us work better from home while others like the office, with its swivel chairs and free soda.

As a manager in today’s uber-connected professional landscape, it’s important to capitalize on employees’ individual differences, not suppress them. In that sense, offering flexible hours and telecommuting options could help you increase output.

Allowing hourly staff to choose and trade shifts.

Hourly workers, perhaps more than any other type of employee, fall victim to rigid, inflexible schedules. But plans change and emergencies happen—and when they do, should an experienced, valuable, engaged hourly worker be forced to choose between their life and their livelihood?

No, of course not, because it’s detrimental to both the employee and the business. It’s a lose-lose spurred on by antiquated policies that were put in place before technology made it easy to swap shifts, give them away, or bid for empty ones.

Hourly employees need workplace flexibility as much as their salaried counterparts—and managers who deliver on this need will quickly realize the engagement and productivity benefits that may have been eluding them.

Happy, productive employees get that way thanks to autonomy and flexibility, not more money.

We work to make money, and along the way, we grow. We find ourselves, slowly, almost subconsciously, through our experiences on the job. Our work seeps into us, into our daily reality, until one day, we stop thinking about the paycheck and we start considering all the other ways work affects our lives.

We consider the impact work has on our families, our ambitions and personal goals. And that’s when we begin craving more than money: we desire time, freedom, control, and choice.

Marnie, of course, is human like the rest of us—and after a certain point, autonomy and flexibility were simply more valuable to her than a raise.

Do you manage a Marnie?