When employees are given the proper tools and information to do their jobs better and the authority to make certain decisions and take action, they have increased confidence in themselves and the company for which they work. Their job satisfaction improves, and company productivity is higher. These are just a few of the benefits of empowerment in the workplace.
We often hear about employee empowerment in the business world – but what does it mean, why does it matter, and how can we unleash its potential?
What is workplace empowerment?
According to the Society of Human Resources Management, “Employee empowerment is a management philosophy that emphasizes the importance of giving employees the autonomy, resources, and support they need to act independently and be held accountable for the decisions they make.”
Empowerment in the workplace requires leaders and managers to be willing to share power with their teams, giving individuals a certain degree of autonomy and control in their day-to-day activities. A key aspect of this approach is providing employees the means for making decisions and helping ensure those decisions are correct. Employees with the appropriate tools, training, and authority for their role will excel, resulting in heightened productivity and other advantages for both the employee and the company.
Putting a value on employee empowerment
Employee empowerment increases workflow, drive, engagement, retention, productivity, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and even profitability. These benefits have been measured and proven time and again. Forbes recently reported that employees who felt a high level of empowerment were rated with engagement at the 79th percentile, while those with a low level of empowerment were only at the 24th percentile. Another study showed that 67 percent of employees are willing to put more effort into their job when they feel a strong sense of empowerment.
On an individual level, employees stand to gain from empowerment in numerous ways. They feel valued when they know they can do their job fully and with precision. They are more engaged in the process when they have a clear understanding of their role, along with the tools they need to perform at a high level. Ultimately, they take pride in their work and have a greater feeling of accountability and contribution to the company’s success. Empowerment, in this way, fosters a culture of employee engagement, open communication, and team collaboration.
Of course, satisfied and motivated employees are assets to the company. Managers can focus on leading teams, inspiring and motivating – rather than day-to-day problem-solving. They can build better connections with their employees and optimize communications.
At the leadership and shareholders level, it often comes down to profitability – and workforce empowerment again plays a role. Gallup’s research revealed that companies with highly engaged teams outperform their competition by nearly 150 percent in earnings per share. Furthermore, organizations that rank high in employee engagement and empowerment outperformed their competitors by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity. The correlation between employee empowerment and company success is clear.
Best practices to empower employees
If you are convinced of the value of empowerment in the workplace, the next step is to set about achieving it within your organization. Empowerment is a process – a cultural change that involves an increase in trust, communication, and delegation. Consider these best practices for employee empowerment that are proven across a wide range of industries:
- Create a shared vision – No one wants to feel like just a cog in a wheel. Employees are more invested in their work when they understand how their role contributes to the big picture. By clearly communicating the company’s vision and goals, you empower your employees with the knowledge that their contribution matters.
- Delegate strategically – The strategic delegation of work duties is more than assigning tasks. Empowerment through delegation comes when the manager’s intention is to truly develop the employee’s knowledge and capabilities so that individuals can contribute at a higher level.
- Establish intelligent workflow – Setting clear expectations and establishing intelligent workflow are critical steps when giving employees more power to make decisions and perform their jobs autonomously. With uniform guidelines and processes, employees are free to do their jobs, and managers can relinquish control without worry.
- Provide the tools for success – According to a McKinsey report, employees spend 1.8 hours every day searching and gathering information to do their jobs. Organizations can take the guesswork out of the workflow process by providing the necessary training, tools and technologies for employees to increase productivity and be successful in their roles.
- Open communication channels – Establish a means by which managers, employees, and teams can communicate clearly and efficiently. Work can be performed most effectively when all parties are kept informed about aspects of the job that pertain to them. Good communication also involves creating the space for open dialogue – managers giving constructive feedback as well as listening to ideas and input from the employee.
- Recognize employees for their contributions – All employees have a role in helping the company meet its goals; therefore, recognition needs to happen at all levels. Showing appreciation for work well done gives employees a sense of pride and fulfillment in their job. Recognition encourages employees to continue taking action, solving problems, and striving for maximum productivity.
How technology propels empowerment
The advent of digitalization is and will continue to be a key enabler for companies to empower their workforces. Technology gives visibility to processes and alignment of checkpoints and overall expectations. It leaves little to the unknown, so employees have more freedom and confidence to do their jobs, and leaders have the assurance that the work is being done correctly and efficiently.
Recent Salesforce.com research shows that workflow automation drives improvements in employee experience. Indeed, technology is the true enabler of intelligent workflow and one of the best ways to empower employees. A digital workflow strategy integrates analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and automation to help employees perform diverse and complex activities – with more efficiency and accuracy.
An operations management platform creates digital workspaces that empower employees to work when and where they are – whether in the field or at the office – and connect managers and employees at all levels. With today’s technologies, companies can create processes, formalize procedures and manage compliance and risk factors. Field personnel can access work orders, checklists, and critical information in real-time to make their best decisions.
Schedule a demo with Chekhub today to see how our digital productivity tools can empower your employees to perform their jobs better.