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Empowerment is a powerful term. It is defined as the process of becoming stronger and more confident by taking one’s rights into one’s own hands. This term has become quite powerful in the recent past, and terms like women empowerment and minority empowerment are being used widely for all the right reasons.
One such term that deserves the right focus is employee empowerment. What does employee empowerment mean, and why is it important? Why are CXOs of top brands talking about empowering employees wherever they go? Keep reading to know more.
Employee empowerment is the act of providing employees the tools, resources, and independence to function autonomously, and to make their own decisions, wherever applicable.
Human beings innately want to be independent. All those stories of fights for independence are a strong indicator of this point. And since employees spend a significant part of their lives at the workplace, being empowered there adds to their satisfaction, enrichment, and experience with commensurate benefits in terms of enhanced performance.
To empower employees means giving them a voice in the workplace, letting them make everyday decisions themselves, without a lot of micromanaging, recognizing the abilities and capabilities of the employees, and helping them to nurture the same.
David E. Bowen and Edward E. Lawler III came up with a paper titled ‘Empowerment of Service Workers’ that is still referred to while talking about empowerment. The paper mentions three basic types of employee empowerment.
Suggestion involvement involves creating formal programs and meetings where employees are actively allowed to put forth suggestions to the management on various aspects/issues. Do note that the employees can’t pass such suggestions. The acceptance still would lie with the management. However, the employees will have a say in suggesting important decisions, making them feel empowered.
Job involvement is the second way to empower employees by giving them the freedom to decide how they want to do a job, the resources they can choose to do a task, and how they want to approach their everyday tasks. This does not mean there will be no monitoring or feedback offered. It means that employees will still be given enough feedback and mentoring wherever needed to get their tasks done. However, they will not be continuously micromanaged or ordered around.
Imagine a junior employee given an opportunity to suggest a change that affects the entire organization. This is the kind of high involvement that features on the list of types of employee empowerment. For this to happen, communication needs to flow both from up to down and down to up, and an atmosphere of trust and transparency needs to be built.
Organizations that regularly practice high involvement use tools like profit-sharing and stocks-sharing to motivate their employees to participate.
There are many measurable and intangible benefits organizations achieve when they empower employees. Here are the top five benefits of empowerment you should be aware of.
Trust is one of the most vital yet hard-to-achieve factors in a management-employee relationship. When you help your employees to stay empowered, they learn to trust you. Harvard Business Review (HBR) published a study that was a meta-analysis of 105 studies and responses of more than 3000 employees.
According to this study, leadership that empowers employees encourages trust in subordinates. Organizations, where leaders empowered employees, saw improved trust within the workplace. Also, an empowering environment encouraged mentoring and support, and both these features also helped improve trust.
Building trust is not easy, and empowerment of employees is a sure way to achieve this.
Creative employees are real assets to organizations. By constantly checking and controlling the activities of an employee, the management leaves no room for improvement or creativity. The same HBR study mentioned above talks about how an empowered leadership works wonders in improving the overall creativity of the organization. This study concludes that empowerment can positively influence employee creativity, making a difference to the complete business functioning. In fact, such employee empowerment-affected creativity may be one of the KPIs the organization has been missing so far.
Without a doubt, a person feels confident and motivated when they realize they are trusted to act autonomously and independently. Employees get the correct dose of motivation when they are encouraged to stay empowered. Also, when you let employees show you what they are capable of, they do their best and feel more satisfied with their work. If this is not the right reason to practice employee empowerment, what else is?
All experts, HR and otherwise, agree that transparency is an important factor in improving employee engagement levels and overall happiness. A 2013 survey by Tiny Pulse states that one of the main factors contributing to employee happiness is transparency in the workplace.
By letting employees take control of their actions, you encourage them to be transparent and honest. Empowerment of employees also reduces problems like partiality towards specific employees and managers taking undue credit for their employee’s work.
An empowered space is ‘the’ place to be in, to grow, engage proactively, and enjoy an amazing work experience. An empowered space means that employees engage in continuous feedback and communication, problems are identified and fixed in the nascent stages, and employees enjoy going to work every single day. All these, put together, improve employee engagement and experience scores over time.
Employee empowerment is definitely a handy tool to help employees stay engaged, active, and happy at their workplace. However, there are a few pointers to keep in mind when you work to empower employees.
Here are some of the best examples of employee empowerment that you can use to kick start the initiative.
Timely rewards let employees know that their efforts are noted and appreciated. You can start by tweaking your existing rewards and recognition system to identify and celebrate the right efforts, skills, and attitudes/behaviors at the workplace. PossibleWorks brings you exceptional R&R tools that can work to empower employees the right way.
Click here to read our blog on how to build the right rewards and recognition programs to change your workplace for the better.
Let your employees choose the right time to work if that is possible in the industry you operate in. This is one of the easiest ways to encourage empowerment.
Let employees be a part of decision-making processes whenever possible. This means making employees feel like they are an actual part of the system and allowing them to contribute as stakeholders instead of being mere workers.
At the end of the day, an organization that practices employee empowerment functions better – both financially and holistically. Empowerment helps improve employee engagement levels and keeps employees motivated, directly affecting the business.
If you have any questions about employee empowerment and tools that can support this, contact us.