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Goodmorning BSN!

How Autonomy and Task Significance Revolutionise Staff Retention

In goodmorning bsn! door Business School Nederland

In a recent installment of the Goodmorning BSN! Zoom event, Marianne Huijskes-Nagel, an accomplished alumna of Business School Netherlands and the Manager at Dutch Regional Water Authority De Stichtse Rijnlanden, took the stage to share her expertise on a subject of paramount importance in today’s dynamic workforce – staff retention.

A Journey through Workforce Management

Marianne’s wealth of experience, spanning over two decades at the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service, set the stage for a presentation that delves into the complexities of employee retention. Her journey, from leading various departments within the public prosecution system to earning an Executive MBA at BSN in 2020 and subsequently an MSc in Human Resource Management and Development at Salford University, has equipped her with a unique perspective on the intricate dynamics of workforce management.

The catalyst for Marianne’s deep dive into employee retention was her experience witnessing a significant number of colleagues leaving the public prosecution office in 2019. Struck by a lack of understanding about the reasons behind these departures, Marianne embarked on a mission to explore the subject of retention, ultimately leading her to present her findings to the Goodmorning BSN! audience.

Marianne highlights the vital role that autonomy and task significance play in staff retention. Drawing on the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and the Job Characteristic Model (JCM), Marianne sheds light on the psychological factors that drive intrinsic motivation and job satisfaction.

Self-Determination Theory (SDT): Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness

The SDT posits that autonomy, competence, and relatedness are fundamental psychological needs crucial for intrinsic motivation. Marianne emphasises that autonomy is not about doing whatever one wants but, rather, about influencing the social work environment in a way that aligns with one’s professional judgment. Competence, recognising and acknowledging an individual’s skills, and relatedness, fostering meaningful relationships in the workplace, round out the trio of psychological needs highlighted in the SDT.

Job Characteristic Model (JCM): Key Characteristics for Employee Motivation

Marianne seamlessly connects this theory to the practical aspects of the JCM, emphasising the significance of the task itself in employee motivation and job satisfaction. The JCM identifies five core job characteristics – skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback – that, when satisfied, lead to higher internal work motivation, improved work performance, and increased job satisfaction.

Of these characteristics, Marianne zeroes in on autonomy and task significance as having the most substantial impact on increasing job satisfaction. Autonomy, defined as the freedom to plan one’s working day and establish new procedures as a professional, enhances the sense of responsibility, thus benefiting motivation. Task significance, according to Marianne, is about having a substantial impact on the lives of others within the organisation and society as a whole, leading to a sense of meaningfulness.

Real-world Application: Turning Theory into Action

Marianne’s insights are not confined to theoretical frameworks. She shares a practical example from her tenure at the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service, where she organised sessions focused on high-profile criminal cases. These sessions not only showcased the impact of each employee’s contribution to the cases but also instilled a sense of pride and motivation, embodying the concept of task significance.

As Marianne concluded her presentation, she left the audience with actionable takeaways. Urging leaders to recognise the urgency of retention, she advises a focus on autonomy and task significance as powerful drivers. For autonomy, Marianne advocates for trust and letting go, allowing employees the freedom to shape their work tasks and choose their working environments. Task significance, she suggests, can be fostered through pride and contribution, encouraging employees to see the impact of their work on others.

In essence, Marianne Huijskes-Nagel’s insights serve as a thought-provoking guide for leaders and organisations seeking to enhance employee retention. By incorporating autonomy and task significance into the fabric of their leadership practices, businesses can create environments where employees not only stay but thrive, contributing meaningfully to the success of the organisation.

Take part in our Goodmorning BSN!?

Join the discussion every Tuesday morning at our weekly global webinar Goodmorning BSN! at 08:15 am (CET).

If you would like to replay other webinars, check out our Goodmorning BSN! YouTube Channel.

Business School Nederland


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