What is employee empowerment?
If we want organizations to become places where employees can thrive, then it's crucial to consider empowerment as a factor. This means that companies allow and give their people the space to make autonomous decisions. As a result, employees gain confidence and increase their willingness to go the extra mile. Simply put, if you endow people with the tools and trust to succeed, they will. Here's what employee empowerment can look like within a team structure:
- Organizing regular feedback sessions where team members can review the company
- Implementing solutions based on the employees' feedback
- Ensuring they have access to training and other growing resources
- Offering them the foundation and confidence to make autonomous decisions
- Fostering opportunities to take on more responsibility and career development
Challenges of not having an employee empowerment culture
Companies that don't have an employee empowerment culture in place might actually be doing themselves more harm than good on different levels. Seems logical but given how many companies overlook it, it bears stating that disempowered team members are not as engaged as empowered ones, a study revealed. In other words, if employees can't voice their opinions, don't have the resources, and/or lack the authority to bring change, it's likely that they won't be as satisfied with their jobs. Not having an empowering work culture can damage a company’s growth, dropping employee engagement, productivity, and retention rates. And while many organizations fear the change, they needn't: it will only do good.
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There's no reason to fear employee empowerment
Many companies are scared of the time and money they'll need to invest in training and development. They might think employees don't want the extra responsibility, thus making the investment is a waste of resources. On the other hand, organizations might assume that giving employees more decision-making power will create an unwelcomed power dynamic. Will leaders lose control over their team members? These scenarios are unlikely. To implement a successful employee empowerment strategy, both managers and employees have to adjust to a new power dynamic – that much is true. But it doesn't mean chaos: albeit not always easy to accomplish, it simply requires team members to establish a workflow based on trust and be more comfortable with risk-taking. Collaboration is a vital part of the process. And so it is betting on good managers who support and enable their teams to succeed in the face of unforeseen circumstances, much like the one we are now collectively living through.
Benefits of having an empowered workforce
As mentioned, an empowered workforce makes decision-making more effective and boosts engagement, leading to overall business growth. Other benefits include:
- More competency
- Increased self-determination
- Improved trust between employees and managers
- More commitment to the organization
- And improved communication
These benefits come through because greater autonomy equals better productivity. When team members are allowed to control how and when they do their jobs, chances are they will find it more engaging and will put their best work forward. And it reflects on the company, too: organizations with satisfied and motivated workers profit 21% more.
How to achieve employee empowerment in your organization
If your team lacks motivation, retention rates are dropping, and growth looks stagnant, it might be time to empower your employees. But how can it be done?
1. Implement a good feedback culture
If empowerment comes from having a voice, then implementing a good feedback culture is the first step in that direction. Give everyone an equal chance to review the company and its managers. Afterward, take their opinions into serious consideration – or better yet, let them take the necessary actions to bring more positive change to the organization.
2. Let go of control
Are your employees allowed to think for themselves or is every decision put through a bureaucratic process? A Harvard analysis discovered that managers who let their team members think freely and collaborate autonomously across departments, generated innovative ideas more frequently. And more: those same team members were more likely to volunteer for extra tasks and support the organization beyond their job description. Creativity – and empowerment – need space to run wild and free. The less control managers impose (including micro-managing teams), the more commitment and dedication employees will show.
3. Make sure everyone has clear goals
Even if employees are empowered, they also need clear and obtainable goals to remain motivated. Moreover, are in-house team members being promoted? If not, they might think that your organization can't offer them a long-term career path. Career development programs, for example, are also an excellent way to help employees define achievable goals within the organization, and so are mentoring and other training programs. Show your people a clear direction, motivating them to grow, and your business will grow too.
4. Recognize their efforts
Praising and noticing your team members goes a long way in the route to empowerment: they are intrinsically linked. In fact, recognizing their efforts can deliver more than double engagement, according to a Brandon Hall Group’s Culture of Recognition Pulse survey. Support them with praise, encouragement, and acknowledge their accomplishments. Show them you are invested and trust their success. That's not limited to junior team members – C-level executives can also benefit from it, driving leadership capabilities.
5. Develop a personalized coaching program
Empowered employees make better decisions and have better problem-solving skills, says a McKinsey survey. However, that's not always something they can develop alone. Personalized coaching can help the team develop the strategies they need to:
- Communicate better
- Become better leaders
- Increase performance and motivation
- Cultivate a growth and performance culture
Empowerment, after all, is a holistic approach to long-term growth: both at the individual and organizational levels. With this guidance, you can now start working on strategies to promote employee empowerment in your organization.