Employee Empowerment in 2021: A More Engaged Workforce

‍Table of Contents:

What is employee empowerment?

Employee empowerment is like employee engagement on steroids. It's employee engagement 2.0, leveraging social media and technological advances (social media adoption, big data collection, virtual collaboration) to create more satisfied teams within your organization.

Employees are more empowered when they are well-informed, have goals that are clearly communicated, and when their ideas are not only heard but implemented when appropriate. Empowered employees are never spectators, and can participate in decision-making processes. The power is with your employees, so why not empower them?

Employees who feel empowered in their roles are highly engaged in their work. That engagement leads to employee satisfaction, better organizational results (more creativity, higher productivity, and innovation), and continued employee empowerment.

Employee empowerment examples

An example of employee empowerment might be an employee-led business process, where employees are given the responsibility for making decisions about the company based on data collected from employee input. It could also be employee-led suggestions, where employees have the freedom to come up with ideas, vote on the best ones, and implement them when appropriate.

Another example of empowering employees could be enhancing your employee suggestion program by offering rewards for employee suggestions. This creates a culture of employee engagement and employee empowerment within the organization, making the company stronger overall.

Ongoing development opportunities offered by the organization also qualify as employee empowerment, as does employee ownership of work. Both these business practices give an empowered workforce the power to make decisions, take action and solve problems.

For more inspiration have a look at this rundown of employee empowerment examples.

Benefits of employee empowerment

An employee-led business process has been shown to last longer than one that is run by management. In addition, worker participation ensures employee satisfaction with the process which leads to better results from employees involved.

Employees who feel empowered in their roles are highly engaged in their work. That engagement leads to employee satisfaction, better organizational results (more creativity, higher productivity, and innovation), and employee engagement. Employee creativity is directly related to increased productivity, as greater autonomy frees individuals to think outside the box.

There is a direct correlation between employee satisfaction/engagement and company financial performance. In fact, employee engagement has been linked to business performance in a myriad of studies. One employee engagement study reports that every one percent increase in engagement corresponds to an average three percent increase in revenue growth.

Encouraging employee empowerment gives organizations flexibility and agility. In times of uncertainty, empowered employees can quickly respond to changing demands and needs, allowing the organization to stay competitive. To empower employees is to make an organizational commitment to employee leadership and job enrichment.

More employee empowerment benefits:

  • Reduced costs (e.g., less employee turnover, employee dissatisfaction, reduced errors)
  • Increased employee satisfaction (high employee morale leading to job satisfaction)
  • Higher revenue (improved product and service quality, improved employee productivity and job performance)
  • Growth (job enlargement, more employee involvement in employee-led initiatives)
  • Improved stakeholder relationships (employees of empowered organizations think more like owners and are committed to seeing the organization succeed)
  • Improved financial performance (more productivity, greater innovation, employee satisfaction, and employee development opportunities lead to a competitive advantage)

Techniques for building employee empowerment

Techniques for building employee empowerment are many and varied. Implementing an employee empowerment program doesn't have to be as drastic as dividing all your stock between your employees or asking the janitor staff to take charge of board meetings. This is something where communication is key. The employee empowerment ideas that work best in your company are the ones you find through employee feedback and consulting with your team.

Begin by listening to employee feedback. Listen to employee ideas and suggestions in your employee suggestion box, through employee meetings, or in informal meetups during the workday. Document all this information and devise a plan of action and organizational goals based on what has been heard from employees.

It's also important during employee feedback sessions for managers, team leaders, or business owners to take leadership in encouraging employees to give input and be open to feedback themselves. Have clear expectations, but be flexible. Your engaged employee may come up with an idea you haven't thought of before!

Following employee empowerment guidelines to allow for better talent management is another way to increase employee engagement and employee commitment. Sure, there are employee empowerment policies such as open-book accounting or employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), but smaller companies might find these options too expensive or too difficult to implement. Instead, consider employee empowerment guidelines like offering annual employee training and education opportunities (such as seminars and workshops), employee autonomy, employee participation in decision-making, and employee advisory councils. These guidelines require little money towards employee empowerment; however, they still lead to increased employee engagement and continuous improvement in employee retention.

If employees are open to employee empowerment ideas, you can bring in an employee engagement or employee solutions company that specializes in maximizing employee buy-in. See if employee empowerment is something they have implemented in other organizations and ask for employee empowerment case studies.

If employee buy-in is a challenge, consider employee engagement surveys to get an idea of what's going on with the employee empowerment process at the organization level. Low employee satisfaction can also be a red flag that employee empowerment ideas are needed in your company. 

More ideas on increasing engagement with employee empowerment

Sometimes, you want to start simply. If you’re running a smaller company, meet with your staff members over lunch. Talk about the employee experience and company culture, then ask your employees what they'd change about the company if they had a chance. That's where you want to start. Often employee empowerment ideas and employee engagement come naturally when your workforce feels that they are listened to and that their opinions matter.

As employee empowerment gains ground in the business world, we will see an increase in employee empowerment models (more than just stock options and employee suggestion boxes). But with employee buy-in as a top concern for companies, it's important that they not only implement employee ownership ideas, but also employee involvement in employee-led initiatives, employee engagement with their organizations, and employee appreciation. 

Remember, employee empowerment isn't the only way to create a culture of happiness and high morale among your employees. Sometimes, what's missing is simply employee recognition: showing your workforce how much you appreciate them and their contributions. Make encouraging employees, a positive workplace culture, and constructive feedback a priority in your organization. In a world where employee empowerment is becoming a popular employee engagement solution, employee appreciation and recognition will never go out of style.

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