Employees bring value into a company with their creative ideas and fresh perspectives. However, in order to create a positive work atmosphere, foster innovation, and retain talent, it is essential these employees feel empowered.
What is Employee Empowerment?
The American Society for Quality defines employee empowerment as the level of independence and autonomy employees are given to complete their daily responsibilities by their employers. Essentially, this entails that employees who feel empowered believe they have the necessary resources and support to complete any task delegated to them. They know they are making a meaningful contribution to the organization. They have the confidence to succeed. They are empowered.
And it’s vital to a company’s own success to empower its employees.
The Importance of Employee Empowerment
Higher Job Satisfaction
When employees know their manager believes in their decision-making abilities, trusts their intuition, and values their presence, job satisfaction increases greatly. This leads to happier employees, those that are happy to do their job. Additionally, this leads to a higher level of employee retention.
Increased Productivity & Engagement
When employees feel empowered, they are more motivated to work toward a company’s mission, vision, and values. Knowing that their hard work and dedication will be encouraged gives employees the motivation to take initiative.
Encouraged Collaboration & Creativity
Empowering employees means giving them more autonomy over their work, as this demonstrates the level of confidence you have in them. Trust allows for employees to have the freedom of deciding how to best complete a task. Rather than feel constricted to a certain methodology, the trust between employees and managers fosters creative and out-of-the-box thinking. Along with this, employees will be more open to sharing ideas and working together, as they know they will be supported in their endeavors.
As mentioned, when employees are empowered, they are highly motivated and engaged. And highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable than those who are disengaged. With a more empowered workforce, your business can reach new heights.
So, how can organizations start empowering employees in the work environment?
How to Empower Your Employees
There are 4 main qualities that can be implemented in a way that is tailored to your company culture.
- Tools and Resources
- Set Clear Expectations
What are the business’ goals? What are the employee expectations? What is the company culture? The earlier these questions are answered, the quicker your employees will feel empowered to make the right decisions to support the business. And if employees know what is expected of them, managers can give them more autonomy, prompting the creative thinking mentioned earlier.
- Be transparent
Allow employees to understand the whole picture. When they are given all the context for a given scenario, they will have the information necessary to solve the problem or task at hand. Along with this, promote free flowing, non-judgemental communication. When employees are encouraged to ask questions, they will develop a deeper, more clear insight into the business’ goals and how to best support them. Employees will be able to make stronger decisions as well.
Tools & Resources
- Provide Opportunities for Professional Development
Professional development opportunities show employees that you are invested in their growth. In fact, 87% of millennials say development is vital in an occupation. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor market—making up over a third of the workforce. For this reason, it is essential to understand their needs. This investment needs to start from the beginning, as 40% of employees who receive the necessary training will leave their job within 5 years. When HR establishes a defined path for career advancement, employees have a goal to be working toward, empowering them to exert more effort into their everyday tasks.
- Invest in technology
Give your employees all the necessary tools to properly complete their work. In this digital age, this often entails the use of technology. Invest in different work platforms and devices depending on its necessity for the job. This shows that rather than simply assigning a task, you are willing to provide support, empowering employees in their completion of their work.
- Be receptive to feedback from employees
When employees feel as if their voice is valued, they are 4.6x more likely to be empowered to perform their best work. Listening to your employees shows your dedication to their success. When an employee provides a manager with feedback on a task, the team, or anything related to the company, it is important that the manager actively acts upon that input and informs that to the employee.
- Solve Problems Instead of Assigning Tasks
Delegating tasks can be micromanaging at times. It also hinders creative freedom and individual autonomy. However, when a manager asks an employee to solve a problem rather than complete a task, the manager shows their confidence in the employee. The employee is also more likely to feel as if they are trusted within the company and feel as if they are making an impact on the organization. This will empower them to heighten their dedication.
- With Autonomy Comes Accountability
However with autonomy comes accountability, and it is important that managers teach their employees how to take ownership of their mistakes in the workplace. Along with this, however, it is essential that managers support their employees in the recovery of that mistake. If employees are only punished for making mistakes, they will be less likely to take risks and think innovatively, hindering company growth.
- Recognize Hard Work
Holding employees accountable also entails recognizing their achievements. 69% of employees say they’d work harder if they were better appreciated. When employees are recognized, they are motivated to keep pushing themselves and bring additional value to a company that values their contributions.
Ideas on How to Start Empowering
Here are some simple ways to start empowering your employees.
- Create a mentorship program for employees to gain additional support.
- Provide compensations for employees pursuing higher education, certification courses, and other skill development programs.
- Applaud employees work through a “kudos” slack channel, employee awards, or a bonus.
- Send out an employee feedback survey and make changes accordingly.