If you want your business to thrive, you need to attract and retain excellent talent. The people in your organization have a huge impact on your ability to succeed. Whether you have a handful of people on your team or you work with hundreds, it’s important that your employees are motivated to work toward your company’s vision and goals.

Many companies try to outshine competitors by offering higher salaries or more attractive benefits. But according to Valerie Schlitt, an entrepreneur and marketing consultant, companies can offer something completely free that has an enormous impact on employee retention: autonomy. In the workplace, autonomy involves time management, work management and having a voice.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we discuss Schlitt’s strategy for bringing autonomy to your organization.

Time management. A huge part of feeling autonomous is getting to determine and set your own schedule. Consider how you could give employees some control over their schedules, whether you let them work remotely sometimes or allow flexibility in their start and end times. Working parents especially appreciate this perk. When it comes to scheduling, you could also allow your team members to work longer hours in the beginning of the week so they can enjoy half-day Fridays or Fridays completely off work if they wish.

Work management. This type of autonomy is about feeling in control of the work you do – both how you do it and what exactly you do. Schlitt says this type of autonomy is sometimes tricky in the workplace and may require some trial and error in order to incorporate it into your business in a healthy way. Some ideas include focusing on outcomes instead of processes by allowing your employees to determine how they will achieve particular results. You could also allow employees to determine a course of action to achieve an overarching goal or allow some flexibility within work management. For example, an employee decides when and how they will accomplish certain tasks by the end of the week.

Having a voice. Schlitt notes that if you want employees who are engaged and intrinsically motivated to accomplish your vision, they need to feel more than just a part of it; they need to feel like they can take some ownership of it. Try seeking the advice of your employees to help achieve goals. If you have a company culture in which employees feel comfortable to offer up ideas and criticisms, you have a business where employees feel they have a voice. Plus, you’ll benefit from the input of intelligent individuals who can help you make better business decisions.

If you want to hang on to your best people and boost your team’s overall job satisfaction, try giving them some autonomy.

Source: Valerie Schlitt holds an MBA from The Wharton School. She started her business career at American Express and also worked at Travelers, CIGNA, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG Consulting. After a successful corporate career in marketing and consulting, she created VSA in 2001, a high-end B2B lead generation and appointment setting firm with more than 100 employees.