The Ultimate Guide to Employee Empowerment in 2023
Employee empowerment is vital for any leader as he/she endeavors to unleash the best in every individual. Leaders also play a significant role in empowering employees by igniting enthusiasm and promoting continuous learning in their professional lives.
Let us see how employee empowerment is central to maintaining the organization's essence by getting a detailed understanding of it.
- A detailed understanding of employee empowerment
- How employee empowerment occurs at organizational, managerial, and individual levels.
- Why employee empowerment is beneficial for an organization's upliftment.
- What are the best methods to promote employee empowerment in an organization
What is Employee Empowerment?
Employee empowerment is a continuous practice of encouraging employees to undertake authority, autonomy, and responsibility in their workplace. The practice involves providing employees with the necessary information, resources, equal voice, and support to contribute to the organization’s objectives.
Employees, when empowered, develop a sense of ownership toward their work. They receive the encouragement and trust to innovate and make suitable decisions that align with the organization's interests.
The very essence and importance of empowering employees lie in the fact that it will gather better outcomes for the organizations in the long run. A certain degree of autonomy and responsibility will make the employees confident in their day-to-day decision-making.
A sound work culture is only established when employees get the power to step ahead, make decisions, and build their path to success.
What are the Levels of Employee Empowerment?
Employee empowerment as a practice takes place at different levels. These levels function independently, yet they cooperate with each other to develop a work culture for the employees. It is essential to create a work culture that is both fulfilling for the employees and the organization.
The levels of employee empowerment can be categorized as follows:
- Organizational level
- Managerial level
- Individual level
Let us delve deeper into each category.
1. Organizational Level
Keeping a particular purpose in mind, people come together to form, what we call, an organization. An organization is built and sustained by its people, who are its employees. Hence, it becomes important for the organization to cherish its employees by empowering them.
An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.
– Stephen Covey
An organization can take several measures to empower employees. Some of them include-
- Open to adapting transitions to the changing trends.
- Recognizing and appreciating the employees for their efforts and contributions.
- Extending support to all forms of collaboration in the workplace.
2. Managerial Level
Empowering employees begins at the leadership level. A manager can make the best use of its leadership qualities to come up with employee empowerment initiatives. These initiatives should be such that they bring out the best in every employee.
Here are some initiatives which managers can consider to boost employee empowerment.
- Supporting and assisting team members to reach their targets.
- Making communication accessible to everyone.
- Aiding in work processes and providing information.
- Open about the business goals and long-term vision.
- Apart from delegating tasks, they can encourage teams to work independently in the workplace.
- Conducting one-on-one sessions with employees to understand their idea about the workplace.
3. Individual Level
Employee empowerment is a two-way practice. If a leader is trying to improve employee empowerment, the employees should also consider doing their share of the work. They also need to be proactive in their approach and support the leader in the cause.
Some approaches included at the individual level are as follows:
- Becoming more accountable
- Involving more in brainstorming and pitching ideas.
- Expressing a willingness to make extra efforts to uplift the business.
- Self-motivating and becoming enthusiastic about fulfilling responsibility.
- Committing towards the company’s vision and goals.
- Volunteering for extra assignments.
As per Harvard Business Review's Research Summary, companies that are actively involved in promoting employee empowerment have more productive employees who deliver highly creative work with job satisfaction.
What are the benefits of Employee Empowerment?
Employee empowerment is a storehouse of benefits. It not only caters to the upliftment of employees, but organizations also witness overall growth. When you explore these benefits closely, you will see how they connect to one another, with each factor leading to the next.
Let’s explore some of these benefits together.
When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.
– Simon Sinek
1. High Levels of Motivation
In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, author Daniel Pink wrote,
Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected. When that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.
The book’s words capture the desire for autonomy and freedom among humans. Likewise, employees seek autonomy in their workplace.
Organizations prioritizing employee empowerment give their employees their fair share of autonomy and liberty. This autonomy factor in empowering employees works as a catalyst for increasing motivation to work harder.
With workplace empowerment comes autonomy and the chance to make more significant contributions. It creates a sense of accomplishment in employees and increases job satisfaction. As a result, this motivates them to excel, offer, and achieve better results.
2. Enhancement in the Quality of Work
The quality of work performance is directly linked to the workplace environment employees are exposed to. An environment that allows employees to use their freedom and flexibility to work sees quality-driven results.
Therefore, organizations can take the initiative to empower employees with genuine intentions. Doing so will enable them to take pride in their work for a longer period of time.
3. Increased Loyalty and Retention
Building commitment and loyalty requires an investment of time in every circumstance. Similarly, organizations aiming to cultivate employee loyalty must proactively empower their workforce to make meaningful contributions.
As organizations deepen their commitment to empowering employees, employees become more inclined to align with organizational goals and extend their tenure.
Research by Harvard Business Review reports that when employees feel empowered at work, it improves job performance, job satisfaction and commitment, and reduces turnover.
What are the Best Methods for Employee Empowerment?
The most suitable way for an organization to practice employee empowerment is by developing efficient methods. These methods should be curated in a manner that fuels the growth of the employees.
My job as a leader is to make sure that everybody in the company has great opportunities and that they feel they’re having meaningful impact to the good of the society.
– Larry Page
Let us understand them in depth, which will help you boost your efforts.
1. Foster Open Communication
It is no secret that communication is the foundation of any form of relationship. And sustenance of a relationship depends on open communication among people. Likewise, professional relations cannot survive until and unless employees find a way to express themselves.
Therefore, it becomes necessary for the leader to ensure open communication in an organization. Leaders can develop measures to foster good communication channels. You can take actionable steps to foster open communication in the following ways:
- Making communication accessible and easy for everyone.
- Training managers to make them approachable.
- Willingly listening to the ideas and concerns of the employees
- Establishing a safe work environment where employees feel comfortable expressing themselves.
As per 2018's Research Summary in Havard Business Review, companies that are actively involved in promoting employee empowerment have more productive employees who deliver highly creative work with job satisfaction.
These steps ensure an environment where employees become comfortable delivering, sharing ideas, and challenging one another. Open communication from all directions will strengthen the bond by empowering the employees.
2. Embrace Mistakes and Mentor them
To err is human.
– Alexander Pope
This phrase serves as a reminder to all that humans are bound to make mistakes. Employees will likely commit mistakes when given the autonomy to work and experiment with several things.
Not making mistakes would mean not challenging oneself or moving out of the comfort zone. Hence, leaders must embrace and accept the employees' mistakes as a learning process. This very act is perceived as empowering.
Employees should be supported in a way that empowers them to become accountable.
The organization can also provide them with the necessary guidance to develop their own working strategy.
You can also work on mentorship programs that will help them improve their learning curve. This way, you can establish a work culture of continuous learning and growth.
3. Involve Employees in the Decision-Making Process
Employees are part and parcel of an organization. Their involvement in decision-making plays a crucial role in determining the organization's success.
Thus, giving employees decision-making responsibilities over areas they control is essential. The organizations should allow them to make recommendations for larger, enterprise-level decisions. Involving the employees in decision-making will give them a clear picture of the organizational structure and how it works.
People want guidance, not rhetoric; they need to know what the plan of action is and how it will be implemented. They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it.
– Howard Schultz
Therefore, the organization must be mindful of its approach and support the workforce when needed. A balanced coordination between the organization and the employees will pave the way for the organization to achieve the right goals and objectives.
4. Building a Culture of Trust
Based on research by consulting firm Great Place to Work, organizations flourishing in high-trust cultures will likely–
Trust is one essential factor for the success of any organization. Without trust, there will be no coordination between the workforce and the management, and the chances of conflict will increase with time.
But here is the challenging part. Building trust is not an easy task. One needs to take concrete measures in developing a culture that revolves around trust.
An organization can take the following steps.
- Leading by example by becoming transparent, consistent, and reliable with the actions.
- Creating opportunities for the employees to express their thoughts and ideas without being subjected to any judgments.
- Seeking and listening actively to feedback and working on them.
5. Ensure Learning and Growth Opportunities
Learning is always associated with growth, be it on a personal or professional level. Likewise, the opportunities for learning and growth are significant factors for employee empowerment.
Josh Bersin, a global Industry Analyst, conducted interesting research with LinkedIn. The research found that employees who dedicate their time to learning at the workplace have reported the following:
The statistics speak volumes about organizations playing a huge role in helping employees develop professionally. Organizations need to invest in learning and development.
As a leader, you must show genuine interest in the employees’ growth and development by helping them enhance their skills with paid courses and learning tools. Urging and encouraging employees to attend conferences and industry events will also open them to gathering practical exposure to their skills.
A leader’s crucial support to employees' growth can help them feel more competent and valued in their respective roles. This will also ensure stronger job performance.
6. Offer Employees Greater Flexibility
Empowerment in the workplace is not only limited to their growth or trust building. It goes beyond that. One key factor is that you should have the capability to offer flexibility to your employees.
It is about workplace flexibility. It’s about giving our associates the opportunity to be who they are as an individual, whether that is a community member, a spouse or parent, or anything in between.
– Amy Freshman
As a result, employees can focus more on their work-life balance in such a professional setting. A few things that fall under flexibility at work are as follows:
- Adjusting the work schedule based on the priority of the work.
- Focusing on creating a hybrid work culture.
- Offering employees to work remotely from anywhere around the world.
In a nutshell, offering flexibility in the workplace will make the employees feel valued.
7. Showing Employees that their Feedback Matters
Employee feedback is a key factor in a company’s success. A robust feedback system where employees can raise their concerns makes them feel valued.
It showcases that a company is putting in efforts towards understanding their employees and creating a work culture that fits their needs. This makes the employees feel more confident about their workplace.
Moreover, managers can improve employees' skills, strengths, and weaknesses with a good feedback loop. This will enable you to motivate them to give their best and ensure organizational success.
We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve.
– Bill Gates
Let us see how organizations can ensure a smooth feedback process by taking actionable steps.
- Listening to what employees have to say to improve the work culture.
- Conduct specific surveys to pinpoint the areas of concern.
- Hold one-on-one conversations with employees to understand their perspective of the workplace.
Now the question is how organizations can ensure smooth feedback processes. It is safe to say that with technological advances in professional settings, gathering feedback have become easier.
Surveys are the best ways to collect feedback. And one of the best survey platforms for organizations is pulse surveys.These surveys help to keep a check on the organization’s pulse.
The survey covers questions from different areas. Compared to traditional survey methods, pulse surveys are simple, fast, and easily accessible.
Recommended Resource: Employee Pulse Surveys: The Ultimate Guide
8. Timely Rewards and Recognition
Timely recognition of employees for their unwavering commitment and dedication is a great way to enhance employee empowerment. The idea is to make them feel valued, boost their confidence, and increase their self-efficacy.
However, it should be noted that rewarding and recognizing is not a one-time affair. It should be done consistently without the bias factor coming into play. In the long run, the employees appreciate such behavior from the organization and become more loyal.
Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.
– Sam Walton
Technology has made reward and recognition much easier and less time-consuming with R&R platforms. The R&R platform is a one-stop technological solution that allows recognizing and rewarding easy through peer recognition and multi-platform access.
The R&R platform, such as Vantage Rewards and Recognition powered by Vantage Circle, offers a comprehensive solution for organizations seeking to integrate rewards and recognition seamlessly. This platform ensures timely acknowledgment and appreciation of employees through smooth and efficient ways of recognizing and rewarding them instantly.
By making rewards and recognition an integral part of the organization's culture, the Vantage Rewards and Recognition platform enables organizations to foster a culture of appreciation and motivation.
9. Inspire Creative Thinking
Creative thinking is a key factor for any organization to thrive. Without creativity and innovation, an organization would not sustain itself at all.
Given its significance, the employees should be encouraged to think outside the box. And leaders, the torchbearers of innovation, should take the initiative to impart and encourage creativity among their employees, incentivizing good ideas.
An organization cannot stand just by a leader’s contribution, but he/she needs a team of creative employees to help him/her grow.
Hence, employees need the inspiration to develop their creativity and problem-solving abilities to cultivate in their day-to-day work.
In technology it's about the people: getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment and helping to find a way to innovate.
– Marissa Mayer
Now the question is, how can the leaders take the lead in inspiring creative thinking in their employees? Some actionable steps can be considered below-
- Not limiting the employees to explore different areas.
- Emphasizing collaboration with team members for brainstorming.
- Promoting different sorts of experimentation and accepting failures.
- Igniting curiosity among the employees and asking them to chase it.
- Creating a work environment where employees take part in idea-sharing.
The fundamental way of working is going through continuous change. People no longer see their work as a way of earning money. They see it as a part of their lifestyle and don’t like others bossing them around. Empowering employees is a steady process that does not occur in a day. It is rather a regular and perpetual process.
Employee empowerment is the leading global buzzword. It has the potential to help organizations in many ways. From improving the quality of work to increasing loyalty and job satisfaction, empowerment covers it all.
1. Why is employee empowerment important?
Empowering employees is crucial to building the strength of the company. Employees will invest their dedication to the company’s mission. They will not hesitate to take on additional responsibilities. They will contribute meaningfully to growth.
2. What are the types of employee empowerment?
The types of employee empowerment include:
- Decision-making empowerment
- Financial empowerment
- Time management empowerment
- Shared information empowerment
3. What are examples of employee empowerment in action?
Some of the examples are:
- Vantage Circle
4. How can you figure out if your employees are empowered?
Empowered employees are more active, confident, and committed. Hence, you can always look for signals that bring improvements on the work front. Look for improvements in the quality of their decisions and performance metrics level. Also, be vigilant of whether they seek feedback for work and request more learning opportunities.
5. What is the difference between delegation and employee empowerment?
Delegation is when you get instructed for your work and have a little autonomy and freedom to glide things your way. But employee empowerment works the other way. An empowered employee is given all the autonomy and freedom to experiment and make decisions independently.