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Section 3: Additional actions to engage your employees

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As you engage in discussions with your team members, you may find yourself wondering what more you can do to help employees regain their energy and passion. Given the degree of uncertainty created by so much disruption, one of the ways you can help employees reclaim a sense of control is to empower them with greater autonomy and agency in their work and life. Providing even small opportunities for them to influence the direction of the team and exercise more decision-making power over their work can increase resilience and productivity. 

Woman working on a laptop with quote beside her: "Simply giving employees a sense of agency - a feeling that they are in control, that they have genuine decision-making authority, can radically increase how much energy and focus they bring to their job"

Increased autonomy does not work for every situation, so take care to balance opportunities for autonomy with compassion and support, particularly for employees who are feeling more overwhelmed or struggling in their tasks. Still, increasing autonomy, even temporarily, can demonstrate that you trust your team’s abilities and that their input is valuable as we all strive to establish new norms of working.

Here are some areas in which you can engage your team to promote agency and autonomy. These prompts can be used in a group setting or in individual 1:1’s.

1. Involve them in the decision making

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Meaningful Work, Positive Work Environment, Trust in Leadership (See Employee Engagement Chart for icon reference)

Priority Setting

Ask your team:

  • What should be our top priorities as we move forward?
  • What issues are most urgent to address?
  • If you could reprioritize your/our work, what changes would you make?​

Project Assignments

Ask your team:

  • What are you most interested in working on right now?
  • What projects/tasks would you prefer to focus on?


Ask your team:

  • How often do you want to meet right now?
  • What do we need to spend more (or less) time on?


Ask your team:

  • What skills are needed on this team?
  • What qualities do you think are most important for this role and our team culture?
  • Are there any changes you would recommend for our hiring process?

2. Provide enhanced flexibility for when and how they complete their work

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Positive Work Environment (See Employee Engagement Chart for icon reference)

Work/Life Schedules

Ask your team:

  • Is your current schedule supporting your needs in work and life?
  • Are there adjustments we could make that would improve you experience and success?

Work Styles

Ask your team:

  • How do you like to organize your workday?
  • How do you prefer to be interrupted?
  • Are there any changes you would suggest for how we share information and collaborate?

3. Support self-determination for their development and careers

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Growth Opportunity (See Employee Engagement Chart for icon reference)

Foster Development Opportunity 

Ask your team:

  • What tools or resources are most helpful in your daily work? Is there anything missing?
  • Are there any learning opportunities you'd like to pursue?
  • Would you like to create a development plan?

4. Promote communication and feedback (bi-directional)

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Trust in Leadership, Positive Work Environment (See Employee Engagement Chart for icon reference)

Expectations and Alignment

Ask your team:

  • Are the expectation of you job/ assignments clear?
  • What can we do to improve communications within the team and dept./unit?
  • What information would you like to hear more about?​

Recognition and Support

Ask your team:

  • How do you prefer to be recognized?
  • How am I doing as a manager in supporting recognition within our team?
  • What can we do differently to adapt recognition to a remote environment?

In Summary

By giving employees enhanced autonomy and control over their workday, you can increase their capacity to move through uncertainty with renewed energy and focus.  Even when teams experience disruption, you can foster employee success, development and engagement through compassion and trust.

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