Gone are the days of reporting to the manager with files and folders after a work is completed. The pandemic has set every employee free from the stern eyes of the bosses, allowing them the space to make their own decisions about how to perform the assigned work and when.
In the words of Ranjith Menon, SVP – HR, Hinduja Global Solutions, “the work-from-home mode may have initially seemed a great option, but with time we have all realised that this is not something that can help maintain work-life balance. On the contrary, this has led to work-life integration, due to which people have started working according to their personal convenience, balancing work with their personal life. This, in turn, has led to increase of the decision-making authority and ability of people.”
Chandrashekhar Mukherjee, Sr. president – HR and CHRO, Bhilosa Group
Autonomy and innovation
Menon believes that a company moves ahead only with innovation, and innovation can happen only with autonomy. Therefore, autonomy has to be allowed to a certain set of people in certain roles. To initiate the innovation of ideas among the employees, the employer should be open enough. However, Menon also agrees to the fact that only people with the highest calibre should be allowed limited autonomy, the extent of which has to be defined by the openness of the company in welcoming creativity.
Autonomy vs productivity
Mansij Majumder, HR head, UNext Learning, adds, “In many cases, we have seen that employees have embraced the autonomy that a hybrid workplace has provided. At the same time, there are employees who have expressed the need for some mentoring and direction setting.” He further explains, “Too little direction can be confused with disorganisation, instead of freedom. It is better if autonomy is not forced – it is something that comes naturally and should be taken on the same way. At the same time, it is important to set boundaries, to prevent it from overwhelming employees and hindering productivity.”
Ranjith Menon, SVP – HR, Hinduja Global Solutions
When it comes to productivity, Majumder feels that autonomy is often confused with lack of control and accountability. This, in turn, leads to overall loss on the part of both the employees and the company. While the employees may lag in terms of creative thoughts, the company may suffer from decreased productivity and failure in terms of achieving the set goals over a period of time.
In order to tackle such situations, Chandrashekhar Mukherjee, Sr. president – HR and CHRO, Bhilosa Group, opines, “Goals and responsibilities have to go hand in hand with the autonomy of employees. However, how much autonomy has to be given depends on the functional role of the concerned employee and the structure of the organisation.
Mansij Majumder, HR head, UNext Learning
Employee autonomy gives a structure to the administration. It can be bestowed on people in certain roles, such as creative or operational. Creativity cannot shine without allowing some level of autonomy. It not only leads to improvement of creative thinking, but also enhances the team-building capacity of the employees. However, it is highly crucial to choose the right employee to hand over autonomy to, and also to determine whether that employee is competent enough to handle the same with induced productivity and efficiency.”