Improving your firm’s employee empowerment can have major positive ramifications on your business’s productivity. Read on to find out how it can benefit your company.
You’ve probably heard this before, or maybe you have expressed similar views yourself: employees are dispensable and the significance of your turnover rate is negligible.
However, on the contrary, employee engagement, a seemingly notional idea, actually does translate into concrete results.
Take this Gallup finding conducted in 2016, for example, which demonstrated that engaged business units achieved 24% less turnover, a 10% increase in customer ratings, and a 20% increase in sales when compared with businesses units that score in the bottom quartile of engagement. Collectively, those differences in employee engagement amounted to 21% greater profitability. Not bad, huh? And all it takes is a little shift in leadership.
But what is employee empowerment and what impact does it have on your business’s growth? Let’s dive in.
What is Employee Empowerment?
Employee empowerment is a company imperative to flatten hierarchies and grant employees more decision-making power. It plays a crucial part in building a positive and more efficient company culture.
Strategies can range from simply taking employee opinions into consideration and clueing them in on your company’s vision to letting them spearhead new and important projects.
How Does Employee Empowerment Work?
It’s no secret that engaged, empowered employees make for higher-performing organisations. By giving your team permission to take action and make important business decisions, you are showing them that you not only trust them, but that you value them too.
Like most good things, employee empowerment is, more often than not, a reciprocal process. In order for your team to be successful, management must first provide them with opportunities, autonomy, and motivation to do their work effectively. In return, your newly empowered employees will be more engaged with your business, both cognitively and emotionally – the benefits of which are outlined below.
To get started, you must first nurture an environment of open communication company-wide. So be sure to participate in regular feedback sessions with your employees, whether formal or informal. Set clear, realistic expectations and always be constructive in your assessments.
While delegating is a key principle, it’s worth taking the time to stress the importance of comprehensive training and patient shepherding. In other words, provide them with the tools for success, but beware of micromanagment.
From there, it’s up to the employee to find both the ambition and the confidence to accept new challenges and greater responsibilities. For most of us, this comes with age, experience, and validation.
Now that you understand what it is and how it works, let’s shift gears a little and discuss the many and varied benefits of employee empowerment.
6 Key Benefits of an Engaged Workforce
1. Heightened Productivity
When employees are given a higher degree of latitude, they are more likely to show up, take initiatives, and go above and beyond the call of duty.
According to the aforementioned Gallup survey, an engaged workforce manifests a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity. So if you’re looking to supercharge your workforce, engaging employees can and should be your first step.
2. Employee Branding
If you’re a fellow employee, consider this: you have a two-way conversation with management and their expectations match up with yours. You don’t feel stifled from micromanaging. Instead, your voice is heard, you are given substantial, meaningful work, and thus garner fulfilment from your job. Before long, you naturally find yourself promoting and representing your company because you genuinely like it. Customers flock to your company and job applications to join your company skyrocket. What’s not to like?
You see, from a business standpoint, implementing employee empowerment is, in effect, good PR. The above scenario (of turning your employees into – essentially – brand ambassadors) is really a form of organic branding. By prioritising employee satisfaction, you are appealing to both prospecting talent and customers, as a happy workforce projects a positive company image to the public. Since the world we live in now places such a high premium on authenticity, you’re doing your company a huge favour by investing in this strategy.
3. Improves Quality of Work
As it happens, building an engaged team nearly always leads to higher quality work. Again, it’s about intrinsic motivation, which is the obverse to extrinsic forces, such as imposing KPIs or other external forms of reinforcement. If a person is involved in a project from the initial inception to the final execution and management, then they will want to do a good job.
4. Get Things Done
For all intents and purposes, employee empowerment removes gratuitous layers in the decision-making process. With the elision of tedious back-and-forth communications, such as asking for minor permissions to add this slide or call that person up, you can accelerate the timeline of your project exponentially. All in all, the workflow goes uninterrupted and your door gets knocked on less frequently. Everyone wins.
5. Prompt Customer Service
This benefit ties into the third point, namely improving the quality of work. Your recipe for a proficient, consumer-oriented workforce should consist of three things: resources, training, and authority. This should be achieved via the integration of sophisticated technology, in-depth training, and the delegation of a reasonable amount of authority.
Authority is tantamount to motivating staff to provide stellar customer service, considering how the employee’s individual sense of competence is tethered to it.
Layers and layers of red tape can discourage the employee just as much as it would rankle the customer. Either way, it’s a policy that doesn’t benefit your business and is worth changing for the longer-term benefits.
6. Healthy Working Environment
Bear in mind, the methods you choose to experiment with should align with your employee’s expectations. Dumping everything on the employee is a common impulse, but that can induce stress and resentment, potentially yielding contrary results such as a drop in routine task performance.
A trusting, harmonious relationship should be the metric by which one judges the effectiveness of the program. It’s all about having conversations, not hosting lectures. There’s a difference between mentoring and hectoring. What you’ll get from this is a thriving and engaged workforce, which, as we’ve mentioned, should really be the ultimate goal for businesses, regardless of size.
Employee empowerment is not some airy-fairy, millennial idea of equality, nor is it some inchoate plan cobbled together by some guy from HR to appease his boss. It’s a two-way commitment that’s proven to work – if done right.