Freedom and flexibility. These aren't just buzzwords among today's workforce--they're highly sought-after commodities that can be used to attract and retain the best talent from around the world. Offering remote status and flexible hours can help your company tap into the global workforce while enhancing employee satisfaction. But how can you be sure your flexible staff is performing at the level you expect?   

It all comes down to accountability. When people can connect their daily tasks to the advancement of the company's purpose and priorities, they feel personally invested in their job. However, fostering that connection can be rather elusive. Even huge companies with seemingly unlimited resources struggle with this issue. As one CEO put it, "We've been working for years on getting our people to take accountability for results, but we can't get it to stick. And now we've got a third of our workforce working remotely or in some sort of a flex work arrangement."

In a recent Global Workplace Accountability Study involving 40,000 employees in a broad range of industries, Partners In Leadership found that only 24% of people can link what they do every day to their organization's key results--the deliverables most vital to success. Moreover, 74% of business leaders feel that their organization's key results are not clearly understood or actively pursued throughout the organization.

These findings are particularly troubling for companies with remote and flexible workers who, without daily reminders in the workplace, are largely responsible for generating their own sense of accountability. And if they lead a team, they're in charge of their team's commitment to key results as well.

To increase workforce engagement, companies need to develop and communicate a crystal-clear definition of desired results, as well as a common language and framework for discussing accountability. And when employees are feeling ineffective or unsure about how to proceed, they should be encouraged to ask themselves the following questions:  

1. What do I need to See? What reality am I not acknowledging?

2. What must I Own? How am I contributing to the problem and/or solution?

3. How can I Solve the problem?  What else can I do?

4. What can I Do to make more progress? What do I need to do, by when, and with whom?

Accountability needs to be woven into the daily activities of everyone in an organization, regardless of how, where, or when they work. Those who feel a deep sense of personal commitment to the success of the team and the organization possess the conviction to get things done.