Employee Empowerment: Are You Doing It Right?
There is much evidence that empowering employees is directly linked with increased productivity. Not only that, job satisfaction and loyalty to the company are also improved.
For sure, the success of your company is directly linked with the success of your employees. When your employees are successful, so is your company.
So, let's get down to basics, shall we? What do we exactly mean when we say empowering employees?
Empowering employees is simply giving your employees more freedom and making them more accountable in every task they handle. It means giving your team members and your employee's permission to take decisions and actions that affect your company.
So What is an Empowered Organization?
Business dictionary probably summed it up in the best way.
An empowered organization is one where individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to the organization's success.
Human beings have a natural craving for power. As managers, they are tapping what makes employees more productive in their job is extremely crucial. Employees want to have a certain degree of freedom, which you must give to them.
If employees don't see a fast-rising graph in their career path, they lose interest at work, and productivity falls. On the other hand, when you empower them, they become more responsible, more invested. And hence more efficient at the job.
Let's take the example of the World's leading online retailer, Amazon.
While Amazon's company culture is nowhere near perfect, they have got one thing right. And that is empowering employees. Amazon's motto is to "Make employees think like owners."
Their 14 Leadership principles put emphasis on “taking ownership” and autonomy at work. The idea of offering stock options at Amazon while hiring puts another feather on the cap.
We know our success will be largely affected by our ability to attract and retain a motivated employee base. Each of whom must think like, and therefore must be, an owner.
6 Hidden Benefits of Empowering Employees
Before going any further, let us take a step back. We know what employee empowerment means. But how does empowering your employees to translate into better organizational performance?
Let’s have a look at a few ways empowering employees benefits your company.
1. More Productivity
This is one of the direct benefits of employee empowerment. Your employees become much more productive when they are involved in all the critical decision-making issues.
You will never feel motivated to work for a company with little autonomy and are often ordered what to do, right? In the same way, your employees don't enjoy it when you call them to work on a specific project or work in a certain way.
When employees make decisions on their own, they generally achieve a sense of empowerment and increase their productivity and improve the work environment with their positivity and energy.
2. Employee Satisfaction
It is a proven fact that we tend to be more satisfied when we make our own decisions. Having an environment of accountability encourages your employees to make more decisions on their own.
This trickles down into them being happy and satisfied. And of course, satisfied employees are likely to be more productive, energetic, and more loyal.
When a project goes well, your employees feel accomplished as they had autonomy over the project. This encourages your employees to take on even more bold decisions and projects in the future. When your employees are satisfied, you automatically make a case for dynamic employee branding.
3. Improved Employee Branding
One of how empowering employees can help directly is making a case for employee branding. When your brand is known for empowering its employees, you can make an excellent case for superior employee branding.
Wait, what is employee branding you ask?
The core idea of employee branding is that you have such a superior work culture that your employees act as brand ambassadors and present your company in the best light possible.
When employees feel empowered, your company becomes an ideal place to work for job seekers. Having an excellent employee brand serves various purposes. First of all your company becomes desirable for all the top talents.
Also, since you have bustling employee branding, you don't have to invest too heavily in recruitment processes. Making your company desirable also serves the purpose of reducing employee attrition. Since your employees are already working for a hot company, they are less likely to leave.
4. Flattening the Hierarchy
One of the hidden benefits of empowering your employees is flattening your hierarchy. In a flat order, there is little to no micro-managing.
A flat structure can eliminate the excess management layers to improve communication and increase transparency in the workforce. Fewer management levels can improve productivity and decision-making among your employees.
Of course, there is some risk of flat hierarchy too. There is a good chance for generalization and confusion if the desired results are not achieved. It becomes unclear who would be responsible for the failure of a particular project, the guy who worked on the content or the guy who worked on the voiceover, etc.
What you need to do is understand the level of "flatness" you want. If you have a huge company, maybe going too flat might not be the best idea. If your company is small, then a flat hierarchy can give you optimum results.
5. Career Development
Career development is one of the most crucial factors for employees when they consider a job.
In fact, according to a 2018 survey, 75% of employees are looking for opportunities for skill development. Empowering your employees is one of the most efficient ways to develop their skills. Since they will be making most of their work decisions, they would likely put extra effort into the project.
When employees are empowered, it gives them a sense of accountability and responsibility for developing their skills. They usually go to lengths to optimize their efforts and nailing their work.
One less worry for the human resources department when employees are fueling their skills and developing themselves.
6. Customer Handling
Good or bad customer experience is largely dependent on one thing, which is what is happening inside an organization.
One of the major advantages of empowering employees can be seen in the quality of customer service. According to a Gallup study, organizations that empower employees experience 50% higher customer loyalty.
Empowered employees take personal pride in their work, and they take responsibility for doing a good job. As a result, organizations reap the benefits of empowered employees as they deliver superior products and services.
Additionally, empowered employees can address day-to-day challenges of customer handling much more efficiently. For example, while dealing with an unsatisfied customer, if your employees have the tools and authority to make a decision, they can fix the issue there and then.
How can we make employees feel empowered?
1. Build Trust and Respect
Foster a culture at work where employees feel respected and trusted. Attitude is an important part of the environment. Empowerment is not a one-step process but a continuous one. It requires nurturing and grooming of employees from the very beginning.
Trust provides a secure place for people to share their struggles and achievement. It helps them unlock their full potential and thrive as individuals and teams.
2. Facilitate Robust Communication
Communication is the most crucial element to spark empowerment. Employees shouldn’t feel they are last to know about any development in the company. When the management makes sharing information a norm, it makes all the difference.
People love to be let in on important issues. It enhances the feeling of belongingness in the company.
Simultaneously, the management should also be receptive of inputs coming from the employees. Listening and making them feel heard are proven boosters of employee morale. And hence empowerment.
3. Be Clear about Company Core Values and Goals
Alignment is an important part of empowerment. The goals and objectives of the company should be clearly spelt out to the employees. Your employee should be aware of what is expected of them.
They can then align their personal objectives with their job role. It will boost their confidence in contributing to the ultimate goal of the company. Hence enhancing empowerment.
4. Provide Tools and Resources
If you want to empower your employees, you must also give them the means to grow.
One of the biggest challenges that employees often face is the lack of tools and resources. It is necessary that these are readily available for employees to deliver their best.
Moreover, companies that are early adopters of technology are better at dealing with changes. Both the employees and the company become better prepared for future obstacles. It creates an empowering work environment.
5. Offer Feedback
The role of leadership in employee empowerment is huge.
To facilitate empowerment, feedback should become a day-to-day affair in the workplace. Empowerment is all about supporting and guiding employees in their journey. It includes helping them in their growth and success.
With frequent and timely feedback you can tap into their performance graph.
Constructive feedback, offering suggestions and encouraging good work are building blocks of a supportive work environment.
6. Timely Rewards and Recognition
Empowerment is a slow process that unfolds eventually. One that needs culture-building from the very beginning. Offering rewards and demonstrating recognition is a proven way to uplift employee morale and boost confidence.
On the other hand, when employees feel ignored they will never feel empowered. Timely recognition and meaningful rewards give employees the much-needed push. It motivates them to put in their extra effort and take ownership at work.
7. Inspire Creative Thinking
Innovative thinking is a key trait of a good leader. You must encourage your employees to explore their potential and think out of the box. It unlocks the opportunity for business innovation and growth. Creative thinking boosts problem-solving, a quality that any future leader must have.
It improves the overall workflow. It helps in finding alternative solutions to problems and break assumptions.
The catch here is that the problem is not lack of creativity but the fact that the ideas are not heard. As managers, you should promote a work environment where employees proactively participate in idea sharing.
8. Foster Employee Engagement:
Employee engagement and empowerment go hand-in-hand. Empowerment boosts engagement and engaged employees often feel empowered. The very premise of employee engagement is to nurture an environment where employees feel emotionally invested. It promotes a degree of autonomy at work and attaining job satisfaction.
When both empowerment and engagement come together in a workplace, they lay a pathway for profitability and productivity.
9. Include Empowerment in the Culture and Vision of your Company
It takes time and commitment to change your corporate culture so that it emphasises employee empowerment. To bring about change throughout the firm, you must consistently practise listening to and praising employees.
Every team member should be empowered at all levels of your organisation, including HR, managers, higher-level leadership, and employees. Consider ways for current employees to mentor new hires through orientation, establish mentoring circles or idea exchanges. And come up with novel and engaging ways for employees to interact with other departments to make sure no one is left out of your empowerment activities.
10. Offer Chances for Career Advancement
Learning and development must be a priority for every company. Employees can learn and develop their abilities by being encouraged to share their knowledge, accept new tasks, and go to industry conferences or events.
Additionally, allowing staff members to take charge of their own initiatives and develop their critical thinking skills makes sure that they are prepared for new chances. Employees feel like valued members of the workplace community when they are given access to these possibilities.
Ample coaching, mentorship, and training programmes must be made accessible to individuals who want to succeed by their employers. More junior employees can benefit from mentoring and coaching, which can give them a clear sense of direction and raise morale. But focus on developing mentor ties as well.
The fundamental way of working is going through a continuous change. People no longer see their work as a way of earning money. They see it as a part of their lifestyle and obviously don’t like people bossing them around. Empowering employees is not a one day process but a perpetual one. You need to set it motion progressively and not with a giant leap.
Employee empowerment is the global buzzword at the moment. Empowering employees can help an organization in many ways. And its impact in improved customer experience notable.
Allocating empowerment to the right individuals can help in improving productivity and cost reduction.However, like every other concept, it has its own limitations. Empowerment can sometimes lead to additional stress and burden among employees. It can also cause arrogance and abusing of power by some. It is important to find balance while implementing the above mentions points.
If you have any more suggestions and inputs, do let us know in the comment section below. We're excited to hear from you!