Hitting a wall is one of the worst feelings in the world, especially at work. Employees can tell when they have the potential to do more but lack the authority or resources to make it happen or a voice to ask for them.
In fact, a study of more than 7,000 employees showed that those who felt disempowered were rated at the 24th percentile of engagement while those with a high level of empowerment came in at the 79th percentile.
Before I go further,
What is Employee Empowerment in the Workplace?
Employee empowerment is defined as the ways in which organizations provide their employees with a certain degree of autonomy and control in their day-to-day activities. This can include having a voice in process improvement, helping to create and manage new systems and tactics, and running smaller departments with less oversight from higher-level management.
A key principle of employee empowerment is providing employees the means for making important decisions and helping ensure those decisions are correct. When deployed properly, this should result in heightened productivity and a better quality of employee work and work life.
Empowered employees are loyal, committed, and potentially more productive. When employees have the tools and resources to successfully manage or lead their own projects, work toward their goals and drive their own careers, the benefits are endless.
As an employer, empowering your employees will give you the following;
1. Quality of work produced: when given the liberty that allows staff to make a difference in product or service outcomes, employees will produce higher-quality work. The finished product becomes a matter of personal pride, and the benefits for both the customer and the employee will become self-evident. The real benefit to the organization of increasing quality is a respective upturn in customer loyalty, which directly leads to increased revenues.
2. Greater trust in leadership: a meta-analysis published in Harvard Business Review states that leaders who empower their employees are more likely to be trusted by their subordinates compared to leaders who do not empower their employees. This is not to say that empowering employees involves pushing work onto underlings that managers don’t feel like doing themselves. Leaders who empower their employees act as coaches, pushing their employees to do their best work and supporting them along the way. Empowered employees felt that their leaders would not take advantage of their hard work. Instead, they would recognize and celebrate their wins.
3. Improved creativity: in the same Harvard meta-analysis, leaders who were perceived as empowering had direct reports who were more likely to be rated by their colleagues as being highly creative. Unsurprisingly, subordinates who allowed their employees to think for themselves and collaborate across teams generated more novel ideas. Not only that, direct reports who felt empowered were more likely to volunteer for extra assignments and support their organizations outside of their day-to-day job function. Psychologists suspected that empowered individuals were more committed to meaningful goals, and used their creativity to achieve them.
4. Employee empowerment reduces costs: An empowered workforce is more satisfied with their job and career path, and staff turnover falls accordingly. Retention rates rise, training costs fall, and experience remains in-house. Operations become more efficient and productivity rises. Solutions to customer complaints are found proactively, and customer loyalty increases. This reduces the costs of marketing and finding new customers.
5. Collaboration grows: with increased confidence, employees are more willing to share information and best practices with others. Honesty and openness increase and this directly impacts the ability of people to work as part of a team. Participation becomes more active and proactive, and this greater collaboration will, in itself, feed through to organizational capability to achieve strategic goals.
Therefore, having known the importance of employee empowerment, how do you then empower them?
Below are 3 tactics for leaders to empower their employees;
1. Show them that their feedback matters: encouraging your employees to frequently provide honest feedback and actively changing your organization to fit their needs empowers employees by giving them a real voice in how the organization functions. In the Achievers’ Engagement and Retention Report, 90 percent of workers said that they are more likely to stay at a company that takes and acts on feedback. HR and engagement leaders agree that 64 percent say an always-on feedback tool is essential to an engagement listening program.
2. Let them understand that they do meaningful work: today’s employees are less likely to be satisfied by completing tasks in separated silos. They want to know that their role within your organization adds value and helps to achieve its goals and objectives. Use one-to-ones and team meetings to emphasize individual and team contributions, and to improve understanding of how work fits in with the big picture.
3. Increase confidence by making it OK to make mistakes: erase the fear of failure and improve innovation and creativity by ensuring that employees are not fearful of making mistakes. By empowering people to make decisions, it follows that you should also accept that mistakes will be made. The important thing is to ensure that mistakes do not become elements for blame, but rather that they become learning experiences from which individuals and the team should benefit. Employee empowerment should help to innovate more rapidly and productively. If people are afraid to make mistakes, the willingness to try new things and innovate will deplete.
In conclusion, companies need to find ways to empower employees in order to encourage and excite them. This makes employees feel as though they are meaningfully contributing to the company’s success and improves their emotional well-being.