Empowerment is a heavy word. It takes a lot to empower someone, but not much to realize that they were ill-equipped to handle the power. Employee empowerment has multiple benefits as long as it is done the right way, backed by data and optimized strategies.
What Is Employee Empowerment?
Employee empowerment at the surface level is about making employees accountable for their decisions. Giving them the power to feel in control is empowerment. It is about uplifting them from treating work as organizational tasks to ‘my job’, ‘my work’.
Empowering means that employees are responsible for the outcome, whether good or bad. Not just that, they are also liable to clean the mess around and are answerable if things do not go the desired way.
What Is Empowerment in Business?
It is a methodology of empowering employees by following tried-and-tested employee development methods, recognizing and rewarding employees, and entrusting autonomy to employees.
Some examples that can help understand the concept better are providing training to the employees, prioritizing communication, involving employees in making company-related decisions, offering flexible working hours, and more.
How To Empower Employees in The Workplace?
Before understanding the benefits of employee empowerment, it is crucial to check how to empower employees. Handing them innovative technology and tools is enough? Probably not. Much more has to be done than merely allocating resources.
Another aspect of employee empowerment is not necessarily about additional expenses. There are simple ways to incorporate empowerment in the psyche of your workers. Some of these methods are:
- Inspiring and motivating team members to express their opinions and ideas is one step towards empowerment. However, simply inviting employees to express their thoughts is not enough. Team leaders should show genuine interest and try to consider the ideas genuinely. Simply pretending to listen and throwing the ideas into a bin is not recommended.
- Let your employees develop their skills and expertise. Investing time and money in employee development is another way towards employee empowerment.
- Employee recognition and rewards are the best ways to instill confidence in employees and motivate them to do better.
- Ensure to properly train your leaders well so that they are well equipped to build a team and gain their trust and good rapport.
- Work to create a positive work culture where employees are respected and valued for their work—ensuring that the work environment is devoid of conflict points, communication gaps, and distrust factors.
- Giving employees the power to decide helps put them in the driver’s seat. With the right kind of training and the right person doing the job, leaders can trust decisions made by team members.
Types Of Employee Empowerment
There are three types of employee empowerment:
- Suggestion Involvement: In this model, employees are encouraged to contribute and suggest ideas through formal suggestion methods.
- Job Involvement: Employees choose to use various skills and methods to get the work done.
- High Involvement: in this case, information is shared horizontally from top to down so that even low-level employees feel involved and empowered. Alongside, corporate options like employee stock option, or ESOP, and profit-sharing are introduced for high Involvement.
Why is Employee Empowerment important?
The crux of empowering employees is that it leads to overall organizational empowerment. Here are some reasons for employee empowerment:
a. Empowering employees is directly linked to employee motivation. Empowering gives greater autonomy and control to employees. It puts employees in the driver’s seat, and therefore, it makes them put their best foot forward to showcase their skills and know-how.
b. Empowering employees to build trust in the team. Team members are more likely to trust their leader when they have more power and control over their jobs. In such a case, members feel they can express themselves and look upon leaders as coaches who will help them accomplish jobs more productively. Leaders, too, take pride in accomplishing jobs rather than feeling sidelined in such cases.
c. Empowering employees encourages creativity and innovation. This is because there is enhanced collaboration and sharing of novel ideas. In addition, team members come forward to take up additional work and assignments and offer support to their peers in their day-to-day work.
Employee Empowerment Examples
1. Microsoft: the company carried out extensive surveys to receive employees’ opinions about varied aspects like employee career advancement, layoffs, development programs, etc. The feedback was used to fine-tune development programs, re-assess satisfaction levels and create new career route maps.
2. Whole Foods: It is an organization that enriches employee empowerment with appreciation programs. These programs offer employees a platform to upload their reports, be involved in self-recognition, and self-acknowledging their efforts. It also involves their efforts being acknowledged by peers and colleagues.
3. Deloitte: The company offers exclusive employee development classes. The objective is to help employees pick new skills. They are also encouraged to strengthen their professional networks.
Employee empowerment translates into employee engagement. And with higher engagement, profitability also increases, as pointed out by Gallup, which says that organizations with engaged workers are 21% more profitable.