Ever since the Covid lockdowns, employee empowerment has been the word on everyone’s lips. Initially facilitated by the necessity of employees needing to work from home, empowering your employees is proven to benefit your organisation.
But employee empowerment isn’t just a buzzword designed to look good on a job advertisement. It is a tried and tested method of improving company productivity and happiness, and delivering a better bottom line.
Today we’re delving into what empowerment means for modern workers, what benefits it can bring to your organisation and how you can implement it. Let’s get started.
What is Employee Empowerment?
Employee empowerment is a management style that prioritises giving employees increased autonomy in their roles. It comes in a range of forms and helps to foster an environment of passionate, hard-working employees.
One of the main causes of dissatisfaction in the workplace is when employees experience barriers in fulfilling their potential. When employees do not have the authority to innovate and make decisions on their own work, it can lead to demoralisation and decreased productivity.
Empowering employees seeks to rectify this issue by giving everyone the capacity to make the choices that affect their working lives.
How does Employee Empowerment Work?
The methods of empowering employees vary from business to business based on size and industry. But the basis of employee empowerment is founded upon trust between employees and management.
Empowerment demonstrates that you trust your workers, that you value their opinions and that you encourage unique ways of working. These principles allow employees to take greater control and ownership of their work, and help to foster a wide range of benefits for your organisation.
What are the Types of Employee Empowerment?
Employee empowerment comes in many forms, but almost every type falls into these four categories.
1) Financial Empowerment
Financial empowerment refers to empowering employees at a certain level to make budgetary decisions that relate to their work. This allows certain individuals to decide upon the best uses of funding for achieving their team’s goals.
Providing financial empowerment will result in greater diligence and care being taken on where money is spent. Often, it will result in more informed decisions being made by the people whose work it directly affects.
Employees will be less likely to overspend, take more responsibility, and are more likely to ensure careful financial decisions are being made for their work.
2) Decision-Making Empowerment
Perhaps the biggest contributor to employee empowerment is giving your staff the ability to make high level decisions. Typically, employees have the authority to make some decisions about their workspace or tasks.
Delegating certain big decisions to employees will instil a greater amount of trust and appreciation from them towards your organisation. Allowing employees to make certain calls will make them feel trusted and appreciated, but also invested in the work they do, and will encourage better decision making.
Through this, employees may also increase their sense of loyalty to the organisation and its goals.
3) Time Management Empowerment
Allowing workers to manage their own time is another signal of trust and appreciation. When a role requires a wide range of tasks to be completed, it is only fair to allow that employee to prioritise and schedule their own tasks. This results in a greater ownership of their work.
Many organisations have shifted from a traditional 9 to 5 working day to one of more flexibility. Greater flexibility changes the focus to outcomes rather than time spent at work, which has some proven benefits for organisations as well as improving your employee’s work life balance.
It is a major perk of modern working that has seen a surge since the pandemic. The switch to hybrid, flexible working has brought a huge range of benefits to the modern organisation that we delve into here – Top Benefits of Hybrid Working
4) Informational Empowerment
Another common cause of dissatisfaction in the workplace is down to the ‘us and them’ mentality when it comes to workers and management. This is often caused by information not being shared with the wider business, and employees feeling left in the dark.
When communication throughout the business is open and honest, employees feel valued and part of the team. This again fosters a vested interest by the employee in the success of the organisation.
How Can I Empower My Employees?
So with all of this in mind, how can we actively empower our employees? Here are some of the most effective, proven methods.
1) Let employees manage their own workload
Employee empowerment is perhaps best achieved when employees take ownership of their own work. The most effective way to create this scenario is by allowing employees to manage their own workload.
This can involve encouraging employees to work on their tasks in whatever order they see fit, allowing them to prioritise their own work. This helps to encourage that vested interest in their work, and ignites passion for what they do.
2) Involve everyone in decision making
One of the easiest empowerment methods is to give your employees a say in the decisions that affect them. Many managers understand the importance of employee input on bigger decisions, and relish the chance to bring them into the decision making process.
When employees feel like they contribute to these decisions, they will become more engaged with the organisation and again, more passionate about their work.
3) Provide a wide scope of training for everyone
There are few worse feelings than feeling like you are at a dead end in your work. But employees who benefit from a wide scope of training opportunities at work are able to increase their skills and potential within their field.
Encourage your workers to upskill and contribute more to their roles, and in return, they are likely to demonstrate their commitment further. By investing in your staff, you build trust, increase job satisfaction and productivity.
4) Show that you appreciate your employees
Demonstrating your gratitude to the work your employees do makes them feel valued, and will help reduce your turnover rate. This can be done as a by-product of many of the things we’ve already mentioned, or as a dedicated employee appreciation strategy.
Celebrate when your organisation achieves something, and give credit where it is due. Highlight specific pieces of quality work, and help foster an increase in passion for the organisation’s work.
5) Promote autonomy & ownership of work
One of the cornerstones of employee empowerment is the act of taking ownership of one’s work. This involves taking responsibility for managing your own work, and having the authority to make the decisions that affect it.
By giving your workers the power to do this, you are promoting autonomy and encouraging creative thinking. However, autonomy does not just mean working alone, rather having the ability to act upon your work without approval from management.
This will increase the care that your employees take with their tasks, and promote a sense of comradery among everyone who contributes to the organisation.
6) Offer hybrid working
As previously discussed, hybrid working is one of the biggest freedoms afforded to employees since the pandemic. Allowing workers to dictate their work life balance, and work remotely where appropriate, can do wonders for an individual’s mental health. It also demonstrates how well you trust your employees to complete their work as if they were in the office.
Hybrid working, by virtue of improved mental health, will increase the general morale of an organisation, and allow employees to have a greater degree of control over their lives. It is the ultimate form of employee empowerment.
7) Implement a flexi-time policy
Similar to hybrid working, flexi-time is another great way to improve team morale. Rather than enforcing a rigid timekeeping policy, allow your employees to start work at a reasonable time that suits them.
Perhaps they need to drop off or pick up their children from school, or maybe they like to enjoy a morning run before work. So long as the appropriate amount of hours are worked within a day, quality of work is maintained and deadlines are met, there are no downsides.
8) Frequent communications with management
Avoid keeping your workers in the dark by being transparent about changes that are taking place, or financial information for example, across the organisation. It helps workers feel more involved in the evolution of the organisation, and encourages a sense of community.
Improving communication can also break down barriers that exist between management and staff. An open door policy also makes people feel more involved, and that their opinions are more valued at work.
9) Offer employee perks & benefits
An excellent way to make employees feel valued within the organisation is by granting them certain perks and benefits. Perk schemes are fairly common in the modern working world, and can improve employee happiness.
Discounts, social events and free memberships can build a feeling of belonging in the organisation, and can demonstrate the value held for the employees. If these benefits are focused around things that improve wellbeing – such as exercise or social activities – that’s simply a bonus.
10) Encourage a collaborative culture
Collaboration is absolutely key for any organisation to get the best out of their employees, and brings many benefits to every aspect of the organisation. Creating a collaborative environment in which to work is also great for employee satisfaction.
It is also an ideal way to build social rapport within the organisation and create a true sense of community. This can be done through employing a variety of collaboration strategies designed to build that culture.
Positive collaboration between colleagues is a great way to build respect and improve on the general happiness and well-being of staff. But collaboration is also important to focus on, as it builds healthy corporate governance structures, making your place of work one where many aspire to be.
Work collaboration concentrates on everyone understanding the flow of work, the best ways to get work stages through to completion and the robust processes that help maintain consistency in workflow, and see limited blockages along the way.
What are the Benefits of Employee Empowerment?
As you’ll often hear, your people are the core of your organisation. Improving things for them means improving things for everyone. So what tangible benefits does empowering your employees provide?
1) Better Company Morale
Employees will feel more valued and trusted, and are therefore likely to go the extra mile. Simply put, better morale creates a more pleasant, exciting atmosphere to work in.
2) Management is Trusted
When management demonstrates their trust in employees, you’ll often find that trust and respect is reciprocated. If high level company decisions are communicated to employees, this trust will grow. When employees are given the ability to make decisions that directly affect their work, they will feel like a valued, essential part of the team.
3) Improved Productivity
An improvement in productivity is also a side product of better morale. When staff are happier in their work, they will work harder and faster than if they hated it. Taking ownership of one’s work can also result in more productive employees, as they are more passionate and motivated to deliver.
4) Creativity is Enabled
Empowering employees with the freedom to tackle their workload as they see fit opens the door to a variety of working styles. While some may suit the needs more than others, it allows for staff to open their minds and go about solving problems in a more creative way. This is how innovation happens within an organisation, and can help drive improvements across a department.
5) Less Staff Turnover
This is a simple one. Happier employees result in lower staff turnover. This means less admin for management, and better return on investment for staff. As employees remain at the organisation for longer, their skills and knowledge increase, and they become more and more valuable.
6) Better Quality of Work
If employees are empowered to take ownership of their own work, it becomes a more personal thing. The decisions they make about their work will affect their outcomes, and this instils a sense of pride in the quality they deliver. It will also ensure workers are more diligent with their tasks, and will conduct their own internal quality control.
7) Improved Collaboration
When staff are happier and enjoy working together, they will make the effort to collaborate with each other more often. Ideas will circulate faster, support will be given, and better results will be delivered. If you give this a helping hand by encouraging a collaborative culture, this will only serve to improve morale further and drive even high quality of work.
So there we have it, everything you need to know to get started on empowering your employees. If you’re wondering where to get started, employee empowerment starts at the very top of the ladder. It is up to the top level decision makers to instil the appropriate power and authority in their employees. After all, they are the ones who will perhaps reap the most benefit.