Why Help Employees Become Self-reliant

by Jul 19, 2021

Business Innovation Brief Best Article

Companies who want to make sure that their employees keep working with them long term, must take steps to create a positive and memorable work environment.

What people really want, besides competitive compensation, is a sense of autonomy, and belonging. They want their work to have meaning and want to feel empowered to make an impact.

A good onboarding process might be an excellent first step, but what happens in the first year of employment shapes the future of the overall relationship.

A study conducted at Aberdeen amongst 230 organizations found that around 90% of their employees decide to either stay at the company or leave it during the first year of their employment.

Let’s go over a few ways companies can help employees become self-reliant and why this will increase retention and create a better environment.


The real work and learning happen on the job, not during the onboarding. That is to say that when new employees are hired, the work that they will be doing in the organization is laid out to them in their onboarding briefing, but not implementable unless they see how the work takes place in real life.

Assigning a mentor from the company to each new hire makes it easy for both the company and employee to acclimate to each other. It helps new employees make their way around their duties in an unfamiliar environment.

If misunderstandings come up, a mentor can be a guide to help the new employee navigate through the culture, reducing the risk of that employee leaving because they suddenly feel like they don’t belong.

A mentor doesn’t have to be a member of the leadership team, it’s best if it’s a peer. This creates a safe space for new employees to open about their needs, and it creates opportunities for employees who sign up to mentor to practice leadership skills.

“Peer-to-peer mentorship enables people to step into leadership and creates a network of people learning self-reliance.”

Growth Opportunities

Studies show that only 15% of organizations extend their onboarding beyond six months. This number also falls as time passes. The number drops drastically to 2% for a year-long onboarding.

Conventional onboarding processes don’t last very long, but to make employees more self-sufficient and reliable, the extension of these processes is necessary.

After the initial levels of the onboarding process are complete, companies should continue to offer new employees relevant training programs to make them more efficient in their work.

However, the onus to train employees does not fall completely on the employers. Employees must be proactive in their approach towards their work and must strive to seek out new avenues for learning constantly.

Meetings, seminars, and training sessions help spread the learning of one or two to the entire team. These meetings also act as great platforms for spreading new ideas, perspectives, and insights within the organization.

If your company does not have a training team, you are likely suffering from higher churn and less engaged employees. Training can be a shared task among employees seeking to develop those skills and creates opportunities for growth.

One of the key roles of the training team, should also include helping new hires understand possible career paths, and how to get there. Most organizations spend considerable time defining policies, but not enough time charting growth opportunities for employees.

“Let career paths, become a peer-to-peer level conversation, further enhancing a self-reliant environment among employees.”

Automate Everything

This may come as a shock to some, but most people don’t like administrative tasks. Reports after reports and overly aggressive metrics, make people feel like machines and assets instead of human beings. Organizations who are very metrics and admin driven show up as distrusting, and that puts employees on guard, causing them to not engage, and leave.

The key here isn’t to eliminate metrics, rather it is to reduce the dependence of employees on the administration of trivial tasks or efficiency-related tasks.

In the age of the internet and digitalization, you as an organization must strive to make everything automated and digitalized for the convenience of employees.

This also reduces the substantive training period and time that people need to get adequately acquainted with the setup of the organization.

Automating the administration’s side of processes makes onboarding simpler for everyone involved. Implementing technology to automate mundane and repetitive tasks saves work hours and focuses human innovation on the things that require a mindful touch.

“Efficiency and productivity skyrockets by automating tasks because it allows employees to focus on things that really matter instead of useless formalities.”

Welcome Feedback

New hires are often people right out of school or right out of an environment entirely different from that of your organization. In terms of their experience, they have something newer and better to offer, which might make your organization more productive and efficient.

It is important to keep an open mind and ear to suggestions from new hires. You never know when you might encounter an idea that could either save your company a large sum of money or increase your profits in ways you never thought were possible.

The rigid mindset of “this is how we do things” is counterproductive to creating an environment where people can have an impact and give meaning to their work.

Be Unavailable

To help people become more self-reliant, hang up some “Do Not Disturb” signs around your office. This way, they don’t become co-depended on executives for constant support for every little thing.

Learn to say, “I don’t know… how do you think we should do it?” even when you know. The truth is that when people feel empowered to make an impact, they not only take ownership of the task at hand but take ownership of the fate of the company.

Let people learn to figure out independently how to solve an issue, and when they do, even if it’s contrary to how you as a leader would do it, don’t block them… let them do the work on their own terms.

“When people are asked to bring their own way of doing things to solve challenges, they become owners of the fate of the company, and active contributors to its ongoing success.”

To be effective at this, companies need to treat everyone as adults and expect everyone to act accordingly. Adults don’t need their hand held, or to be told what to do. Adults make things happen through collaboration and mutual respect.

Autonomy and ownership make better employees and a more valuable teammate. 

Business Innovation Brief

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