An Introduction to Employee Empowerment
Employee empowerment in the workplace is a combination of strategies designed to promote and cultivate autonomy among employees, allowing them to experience authentic engagement and a personal sense of investment in their jobs. Employee empowerment Wikipedia definitions explain that the process of employee empowerment involves developing a solid atmosphere of trust that encompasses all levels of organizational hierarchy.
Although empowerment theory is well-represented in Marxist ideology, it first became popular in American vernacular in 1981 when social scientist Julian Rappaport introduced the concept of community psychology. One of the first instances of using empower in a sentence was in 1977 when Rappaport’s work Community Psychology: Values, Research and Action was published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
True employee empowerment occurs when corporations have put measures in place to create and nurture an atmosphere of mutual trust and support. When an employee feels pitted against others in lateral positions and feels the tension in interactions with those in superior positions, it’s impossible for employee empowerment to flourish. If the person with the lowest position in the company doesn’t feel a sense of engagement with his or her position, that company does not have an effective employee empowerment program.
3 Employee Empowerment Examples
Although employee empowerment isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept that’s applicable to every individual and every corporation, some basic tenets provide its groundwork. At the core of employee empowerment is the opportunity to take actionable steps during the course of regular employment duties that aren’t reliant on getting the approval of a higher-up. For instance, employees in the hospitality industry may be given the ability to make decisions concerning customer satisfaction. One example of this is might be when a customer in a restaurant is highly dissatisfied with a meal and the server has the right per their employment contract to comp the meal in question. Another example is when a hotel employee is allowed to offer an upgrade to a guest in the event of an unforeseen issue with the room that they’d initially reserved.
The most effective types of employee empowerment are those that revolve around the needs of the customer. Few things make an employee feel completely helpless than being faced with an angry customer and not being able to do anything to alleviate the situation, especially if management isn’t immediately available. Customer-based employee empowerment strategies are often referred to as financial empowerment because they entail being able to make decisions regarding financial aspects of the customer-provider relationship. Employees of the Ritz-Carlton, for instance, are empowered with being able to improve the experience of the hotel’s guests by as much as $2,000 per day.
Time management empowerment
Another excellent way to foster a company culture of employee empowerment is to provide employees with an increased amount of agency over their time. Punching a clock at precise times on a daily basis used to be the standard operating procedure for the great majority of businesses, but today’s technology allows many employees to work remotely at least part of the time. This not only increases work/life balance, but it also provides employees with a sense of control over their own time.
Decision making empowerment
Decision-making empowerment involves providing employees with the right to make applicable decisions concerning basic workplace issues. For instance, front office personnel may be equipped with decision-making power over what type of office supplies to order and where to purchase them from. Decisions should be pertinent to the individual job at hand.
Benefits of Employee Empowerment
Employee empowerment programs have a variety of benefit for both employees and companies. It’s a basic fact of human psychology that people who are engaged and involved in a positive way perform better on the job as well as experience higher levels of overall job satisfaction. Following are just five of the many benefits of implementing an effective empower employment strategy.
Those who feel empowered and engaged in their work naturally produce more than their counterparts who experience a significant disconnect from their jobs.
Improved customer service
Customer service also improves when employees feel engaged and involved in their jobs rather than simply going through the motions. Customers are happier as well, especially when an employee has the power to immediately rectify a situation rather than going up the chain of command to get a resolve.
Job satisfaction is one of the primary factors whether employees stick with a job or move on to look for greener pastures. Constantly having to recruit, hired, and train new employees put a huge financial drain on companies as well as has a negative impact on productivity.
Another reason why empowerment is necessary is that everyone performs better when they like their job and feel as if they’re a valued member of the company. Employee morale is also contagious — whether moods are good or bad, they spread quickly throughout workplace environments.
One of the main objectives of employee empowerment is attracting the right applicants. After all, those who are the right fit for your company will be more productive and useful in the long run.
Disadvantages of Employee Empowerment
Lack of empowerment in the workplace often results in lackluster performance and disengaged employees who feel they are merely going through the motions in order to receive a paycheck. These work environments typically have high turnover rates, particularly in periods where the economy is thriving.
However, when well-intentioned employee empowerment programs aren’t implemented in the right way, they often do more harm than good. Some managers read a few employee empowerment articles and go from there, but this approach has significant drawbacks. Following are just a few of the things that can go wrong when an employee empowerment program hasn’t been properly implemented.
Too Much Pressure on Inexperienced Employees
Employees who are still growing into their jobs may feel overly pressured to perform when given too much responsibility too soon.
Some Employees Take Things Too Far
Some employees confuse empowerment in the form of being given autonomy in the decision-making process as a license to do as they please, which will inevitably result in interpersonal workplace conflicts.
One aspect of employee empowerment is the free sharing of information, but this can have a substantial negative impact on the company if important information or data is somehow leaked. Effective employee empowerment policies balance empowerment strategies with confidentiality concerns.
Getting as much information as possible before starting your workplace empowerment program, such as reading employee empowerment articles pdf files, increases the likelihood of success.
Start the Process of Employee Empowerment
One of the most important things to remember during the initial stages of creating and implementing an employee empowerment program is that these are living policies designed to change and adapt as they’re fine-tuned to meet the individual needs and preferences of each company. However, there are certain steps companies can take to get the empowerment process started — following are five stages of empowerment process designed to provide your empowerment program with structure.
As mentioned earlier, empowerment begins with identifying and attracting the right applicants. Develop a clear vision for each available position and aim your recruitment strategies directly at that vision.
Clear Job Descriptions
Vague job descriptions and expectations don’t mix well with employee empowerment programs. This combination creates an environment where miscommunication and confusion can easily reign. Make sure job descriptions are clear, concise, and complete, and provide employees with paper as well as digital copies.
Goal-Oriented Training Programs
Many modern employees realize the importance of employee empowerment, they sometimes fail to understand that employees need to be prepared to be empowered. Good training programs provide employees with the tools they need to thrive. After all, a workplace atmosphere of empowerment accomplishes very little if employees don’t have the necessary training to put that empowerment to work. Employee empowerment ppt publications are rich sources of information on implementing training programs.
Match Authority Equally With Responsibilities
Be sure that authority and responsibilities balance as equally as possible within every individual job description. Authority outside the scope of specific positions can create tension in the workplace as well as result in poor customer service due to employee overreach and error. On the other hand, only providing a seasoned, trustworthy employee who’s grown into their job well with only a token amount of workplace autonomy comes across as pointless posturing that creates the illusion of empowerment
Provide Feedback and Recognition
Feedback and recognition keep employees moving on the right track, so be sure to implement regular feedback sessions into your employee empowerment strategy. Feedback sessions also help promote clear communication and identify areas in which employees are ready for more responsibilities.
Over a period of time, your workforce empowerment program should naturally become customized to your company’s individual culture, requirements, and environment. Don’t be afraid to try new things and to leave certain strategies by the wayside if they simply aren’t a good fit for your particular situation. If you’re ready to empower your employees, get a demo of Lessonly and see how training can help.