How to Increase Employee Empowerment at Your Business

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Saphia Lanier
Saphia Lanier

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In the age of the Great Resignation and quiet quitting, leaders must find ways to keep their employees engaged. This could help with talent retention, productivity levels, and overall morale.  

what is employee empowerment

But what does it take to create a happy workplace? 

One option is to invest in employee empowerment. It’s a win-win for workers and employers — when employees are more satisfied in their roles, bosses get a more productive workforce.

What is employee empowerment?

Employee empowerment means providing workers with the resources and authority to make decisions in the workplace and contribute to the organization’s success. 

For example, allowing customer service representatives to decide on refunds without manager approval, leading to faster solutions and happier customers.

Importance of employee empowerment

According to Gallup, only 21% of employees are considered engaged. Mantras about work now include: 

  • “Living for the weekend”
  • “Watching the clock tick”
  • “Work is just a paycheck”

Mindsets like these can hurt your teams’ performance, especially if they become widespread in the workplace. 

The same Gallup report shows the global economy loses trillions of dollars from disengaged employees. 

Some businesses lose productivity from quiet quitting, while others are losing their workforce to the gig economy and other entrepreneurial ventures. One reason this is happening is that employees want more control over when, where, and how they work. 

If more businesses focused on employee empowerment, they could overcome these challenges and reduce employee turnover and mental absenteeism.

Benefits of employee empowerment

Building a workforce that’s highly engaged requires creating a great employee experience. One way to do this is to provide more autonomy to your employees.

A report by Jabra shows workers with high autonomy have more:

  • Belonging (73%)
  • Motivation (81%)
  • Productivity (82%) 
  • Trust in team (75%)
  • Trust in leaders (75%)
  • Impact (68%)
  • Work-life balance (83%)
  • Mental well-being (79%)

But empowered workers don’t just benefit the employee — empowerment also provides the following advantages to companies.

Enhanced responsibility

Empowering employees leads to them having a greater sense of responsibility and ownership over their work. For example, having the autonomy to make decisions regarding a project could lead to more invested team members who strive for better results.

Fewer bottlenecks

Allowing team members to make more decisions reduces the need for constant approvals, resulting in improved productivity and faster outcomes. For instance, letting an employee resolve minor issues without managerial input can speed up problem resolution and project completion.

Quality customer service

Empowered employees who can make decisions on customer interactions may provide more personalized and effective assistance. For example, instead of strictly adhering to a sales script, allow team members to tailor their approach based on each customer’s unique needs.

Increased productivity

When employees feel they have control over their work, they put in more effort to achieve the goals. For example, assigning individual team members specific tasks with the autonomy to decide how best to complete them can increase employee motivation.

Higher job satisfaction

Empowerment leads to higher job satisfaction, as employees feel valued and trusted by managers. For example, granting employees the authority to overhaul an outdated process can make them feel appreciated for their abilities.

Better innovation

With the freedom to think creatively and independently, empowered employees may generate new ideas that benefit the organization. For example, encouraging brainstorming sessions without managerial input may promote out-of-the-box thinking.

Reduced micromanagement

When managers trust their team members’ capabilities, they’ll be less inclined to micromanage. This benefits the entire team by allowing managers to focus on strategic decisions and team members to complete their work without unnecessary distractions.

Higher employee retention

Empowered employees are more loyal because they feel invested in the company’s success. For example, ensuring employees have opportunities to shape their team’s structure, culture, or policies can foster a sense of belonging and commitment.

More leadership potential

The skills developed by empowering employees can help with their professional development. For example, giving junior team members more responsibility to manage projects and solve problems can help them grow into future leaders for the company.

Reduced costs

Empowering employees increases job satisfaction and internal promotion, which decreases turnover rates and the need to recruit and train new candidates. For instance, empowering employees to choose their own work hours can reduce absenteeism and turnover. 

Tips for improving employee empowerment in your business

Interested in giving your employees more power over their work lives? Try the following tips:

  • Motivate employees daily: Develop a culture that supports all team members and inspires them to bring their best.
  • Offer professional development opportunities: Enable employees to access resources and training to further their skills and knowledge.
  • Promote work-life balance: Support employee well-being by encouraging a healthy work-life balance.
  • Foster employee autonomy: Empower employees by giving them decision-making opportunities and trusting in their abilities.
  • Set challenging but attainable goals: Encourage personal and professional growth by setting clear and challenging yet achievable objectives.
  • Show appreciation for hard work: Acknowledge the effort your employees put into their work, demonstrating gratitude when they go above and beyond.
  • Encourage collaboration and teamwork: Create an environment where employees feel comfortable working together and sharing ideas with one another.
  • Provide opportunities for growth: Make it possible for employees to advance in their roles or move into new positions within the organization.
  • Lead by example: Demonstrate the behavior you expect from your employees by being an effective, supportive, and engaged leader.
  • Communicate effectively and openly: Foster honest and open communication throughout your organization, facilitating dialogue between team members and management.
  • Make work enjoyable: Incorporate fun elements into the workplace to keep morale high, while still maintaining focus on tasks at hand.
  • Mentor employees through their mistakes: Encourage employees to own their mistakes and guide them in designing a resolution strategy, fostering a culture of growth and resilience.
  • Listen to your employees: Be receptive to employees’ input and be willing to implement changes based on their feedback.
  • Delegate problems, not tasks: Assign problems that require creative solutions to employees, allowing them autonomy and ownership of the process.
  • Provide ongoing feedback: Offer constructive criticism and guidance regularly to help employees grow professionally and personally.
  • Encourage out-of-the-box ideas: Support creativity and experimentation for problem-solving by welcoming new ideas without judgment.

Examples of employee empowerment in the workplace

When Keely Ryder and her partner founded Dolfin, a financing company for tenants and landlords, they decided the most important employee empowerment tools would be:

  1. Offering each employee equity
  2. Allowing employees to work either hybrid or fully remote
  3. Setting project timelines but not micromanaging if the employee has established a good track record.

“Our employees feel valued and empowered as they’re respected and trusted to do what we hired them to do,” says Ryder. “Everyone has an equity stake in the company, so employees feel a sense of shared purpose.”

Netflix chose to go all out with employee autonomy. It has a “no rules” policy that includes:

  • No dress code (just show up with clothes on)
  • Unlimited vacation
  • No approval required for expenses
  • Criticizing the company is a-OK and could even land you a promotion

Netflix’s approach inspires out-of-the-box thinking, so those who get promoted most are typically curious and often disagree with the status quo. 

There’s no one way to empower employees in your workplace. The key is learning what your teams care about and then providing them with the means to bring it to fruition. Whatever you decide, measure performance and satisfaction to see what’s working and how to make improvements. 

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