What is employee empowerment?
Human resource management has acquired critical importance for organizations in the 21st century. Companies are investing more in hiring and training their employees. The focus on managing employees strategically to motivate and retain them has increased. Employees are among the most important assets of an organization. They are the fundamental drivers of an organization’s competitive edge. It is why the leading organizations focus on employee empowerment. Due to the critical role of employees in organizational performance and productivity, managers must focus on employee empowerment.
Employee empowerment is defined as “a condition whereby employees have the authority to make decisions and take action in their work areas, within stated bounds, without prior approval.”
Employee empowerment offers several advantages. Empowered employees work responsibly and make better decisions and manage their career growth better compared to unempowered employees. Employee empowerment boosts employee morale and helps grow worker productivity. It also improves employer-employee relationships. Empowered employees are more focused, and their quality of work is also better compared to unempowered employees.
Here we have listed the top benefits of employee empowerment for organizations and why organizations of all sizes must focus on employee empowerment.
Benefits of employee empowerment
Improved quality of work:
Employee empowerment includes providing your employees a certain level of autonomy. It helps them make better choices and decisions. Empowered employees bring creative ideas to the table, which can improve customer satisfaction. They produce more for the organization, and the quality of output is better. All these factors will affect customer experience and the bottom line. Empowered employees feel more confident about their decisions. They can create better products/services or generate better ideas to improve the organization’s influence in the market.
Higher worker satisfaction:
Employee empowerment brings the focus sharply on those areas that automatically improve employee satisfaction. When the employees have a higher level of autonomy and are more confident about their decisions, they feel more in control of their jobs. They feel valued as their contribution matters. Employee empowerment helps establish a strong connection between the employer and the employees. Several leading organizations in the automobile industry, including Ford and Toyota, have made empowerment a part of their culture. It offers a double benefit for the organization. Employees are more satisfied and dedicated. There is less load on the employer related to employee turnover.
Helps bring higher collaboration:
When employees are empowered to make critical decisions, it improves teamwork at the workplace. Employee empowerment boosts employee morale. They are more open to sharing information and supporting other team members. Organizations strive to improve the level of collaboration between teams. Empowering employees helps reduce the level of politics inside the organization and creates more cohesive teams. Employees feel more empowered to handle pressure, and together they can achieve more—higher collaboration results in higher productivity and an improved bottom line. Organizations like Google and Facebook have established a culture of employee empowerment and benefited from the outcome. Collaboration is an important part of Google’s organizational culture and is an important driver of Google’s global impact.
Helps improve productivity:
Employee productivity can increase through employee empowerment. Empowered employees will have higher self-esteem, feel more responsible at work, make better decisions and create more than the unempowered employees. Empowered employees think outside the box. They have a higher sense of ethics and accountability. Such employees are more innovative in their approach. Organizations can see growth in their productivity by investing in employee empowerment.
Helps reduce costs:
One of the most important benefits of employee empowerment is reduced costs. The concerned organization will experience a decline in HR-related costs, but it can also experience cost reduction in other areas. For example, empowered employees are more dedicated to their work and stay longer with an organization. When employee turnover is low, the organization needs to spend less on hiring and retention. However, empowered employees are more dedicated and think outside the box. They think for the organization and have a higher sense of accountability. Unempowered employees feel trapped in their jobs and do not feel highly dedicated to the organization and its profitability. Their output quality is mediocre, and the organization may hire more people or the same amount of work. It increased HR-related costs. When the quality of output is mediocre, the organizations do not generate the same output as when the quality of work is superior. So, organizations that do not invest in employee empowerment will also experience higher wastage of time and labor. Overall, it can significantly increase the costs. Employee empowerment will help generate more from the same resources and find and fill gaps faster.
How can organizations empower their employees?
Employee empowerment offers several benefits. The leadership and managers must adopt strategies to empower their employees and improve their focus.
Let employees know their contribution matters:
Employees do not love to work in isolation. They like to know how they contribute to the bigger picture and if their involvement and contribution matter for the organization. Managers must take time to emphasize and highlight individual and team successes. They must take time to show their employees how their contribution affects the big picture. It is more likely that your employees will be more satisfied when they understand that they are doing meaningful work for their organization.
Focus on their learning and development:
Employee empowerment also requires focusing on their learning and growth. Employees will not be satisfied if they are caught in the same pay bracket for long. Such employees will start thinking that their organization does not have much to offer. Organizations can empower their employees by investing in their learning and development and helping them find faster career growth. Organizations should create a learning environment to help employees achieve faster growth.
Adopt a culture of collaboration:
Employee empowerment is possible if you make it a part of your organizational culture. Adopt a culture that fosters higher creativity and collaboration. Organizational leadership can improve collaboration inside the organization by empowering employees. They can encourage employees to make decisions and grow the sense of accountability in their people. A democratic approach in this regard is expected to yield faster results. Do not forget to consult with your employees over how your decisions affect them.
Micromanagement often hurts productivity. Few employees in an organization will say yes to micromanagement. Most often, micromanaging employees annoys them and makes them feel confused. It also becomes a hindrance to collaboration. It is better to ask your employees how they would like to be managed if you do not have a clear strategy. Tell your employees that it is alright to make mistakes. Employees learn by making mistakes. It also makes them feel more valued. Mistakes will happen now and then. However, instead of using them to blame their employees, managers can turn them into learning experiences for employees.
If your employees are not making mistakes, it does not always mean they are highly creative. It can also be a sign that they have grown used to just following orders. Employee empowerment helps employees work more proactively and be more innovative in their approach. If your employees are too afraid of making mistakes, they will not think innovatively or try new things but instead, keep beating the ordinary track. So, let them make mistakes and not fear for the outcome.
Red tape and bureaucracy under decision making and performance inside organizations. Collaboration becomes difficult in organizations that have too many layers of bureaucracy. Removing a few layers of bureaucracy can help improve and speed up things inside an organization. A flatter organizational structure is generally more suited to employee empowerment. Organizations with a flatter structure are highly flexible. Organizations that have several layers of management can be more rigid. By flattening the organizational hierarchy, you will transfer more authority to the employees. Autonomous decision-making is a key component of employee empowerment.