What Business Leaders Should Know About Employee Empowerment

employee empowerment

As research continues to reveal higher rates of success and better financial outcomes in workplaces practicing employee empowerment, many organizations are reevaluating the roles their structure and culture play in their business. Learning about the philosophy behind employee empowerment and the strategies used to implement empowerment in the workplace could help your business take the next crucial step toward long-lasting success.

What Is Employee Empowerment?

At its core, employee empowerment is the practice of giving workers more autonomy and control over their working environment. Empowered work cultures encourage employees to make meaningful decisions, take accountability, and exert more control over their work. This means managers need to relinquish control over the minutiae and focus less on delegating and giving permission. Instead, they must encourage the growth of employees’ knowledge, skills, and experience and enable employee success. 

Why Employee Empowerment Matters

Empowerment in the workplace isn’t good just for low-level employees—it also benefits managers, leadership, and the organization as a whole. Employees who feel empowered are more likely to take initiative, implement creative solutions, and develop loyalty to their workplace.

Employee empowerment helps workers feel secure, and customers feel cared for. It also directly improves financial success by retaining talent, developing customer loyalty, and accelerating employee growth.

How to Promote Empowerment in the Workplace

1. Increase Employee Autonomy

At the heart of employee empowerment is the everyday autonomy and independence of each employee. Micromanaging decreases morale, and requiring manager approval for small decisions slows down an employee’s pace, all while making the employee feel dependent on someone else’s decisions to do their job.

By building trust with the employees and teaching them the process and skills necessary to make decisions on an everyday basis, a company can vastly improve their employees’ sense of empowerment.

2. Promote Transparency

In order to give workers this kind of autonomy, it’s crucial for a workplace to practice transparency and clear, consistent communication. Employees need to know what their goals are and how those goals serve the organization’s mission. They need to understand how their decisions impact the greater picture and know what they’re doing well and how to improve. This requires transparent feedback, thorough training and procedures, and a constant line of open communication between all levels.

3. Reward and Encourage Creativity

Empowerment in the workplace means increased creativity, experimentation, and innovation. However, employees will be reluctant to exercise their creativity without explicit and frequent affirmation. Rewarding employees for creativity is crucial, and not just for experiments that succeed. Failure is a natural part of experimentation and growth, and employees need to know that their ambition will be rewarded.

Organizations can also promote creativity by shaking things up. When you have an unusual problem to address, put together a task force of people from different teams. Give employees the chance to work outside their normal routine and offer opportunities for cross-training.

4. Actively Develop Skills

Your employees are all likely to be highly adept people, and the skills they use for their everyday tasks are only a small subset of what they have the potential to excel at. Be proactive in helping your employees develop skills within and beyond the scope of their work. Cultivating a wide variety of skills in employees helps keep them engaged while also strengthening the company at large.

An organization’s managers should be vehicles for professional development, encouraging their direct reports to seek out new skills and providing resources to do so. Doing so increases the knowledge of the workforce, helps employees stay dynamic, and improves morale. 

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