Hitting an invisible barrier has got to be one of the most frustrating experiences you can have, particularly in your professional life. You’re convinced that you could accomplish more for the firm but know that you’re not blessed with the required seniority or backing, and lack the confidence to request them. Working in such conditions damages your motivation, productivity and engagement. Behavioural statistician Joseph Folkman studied data from more than 7,000 employees to reveal that dis-empowered workers were ranked at only 24 per cent engagement, whereas their empowered colleagues displayed engagement levels of 79 per cent.
Luckily, any company with the correct attitude and technology can empower its employees. Let’s examine why organisations should go about making employee empowerment a part of their culture.
What is employee empowerment?
When someone is empowered, they have the authority and power to accomplish something, giving them the confidence to succeed. Employee empowerment refers to the manner in which companies provide their employees with anything and everything they need to be successful. This involves far more than simple resource allocation. However, companies that are interested in empowering employees should act on the following:
- Give employees a voice by regularly soliciting and acting on their feedback.
- Provide opportunities for employees to grow through more autonomy, additional responsibilities or even an entirely new role.
- Recognise employees frequently to increase their engagement and confidence in their own abilities.
- And, of course, provide employees with the tools, training and authority they need to excel.
A company’s leaders, HR professionals and employees all play key roles in establishing a supportive, empowered environment. All parties need to establish mutual trust, feel comfortable taking risks and establish clear expectations and guidelines. Without this collaboration, truly empowering employees is impossible.
The benefits of employee empowerment
Employee empowerment can instil greater trust in leadership, encourage employee motivation, foster greater creativity and improve employee retention – all of which ultimately results in a better bottom line.
Empowering employees through greater autonomy has been directly linked to increased employee motivation. Experts agree that employees who have more control over how, when and where they do their job will work harder and find their work more engaging. And given the chance to show off what they can do, employees will put their best foot forward and feel more satisfied at the end of the day.
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 them, compared to leaders who do not empower their employees. This is not to say that empowering employees involves pushing work onto junior staff 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 feel that their leaders wouldn’t take advantage of their hard work – instead, they would recognise and celebrate their wins.
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 highly creative. Unsurprisingly, leaders 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 organisations 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.
Ultimately, encouraging employee empowerment enables companies to perform more effectively than competitors who don’t take empowerment as seriously. Highly motivated employees will make your organisation more profitable and help a culture of continuity to flourish, allowing your firm to be more resilient in the face of unforeseen challenges.
Click here to find out more about Achievers’ employee engagement platform.