Employee drivers – Empowerment

Why empowerment is a key driver to successful employee engagement

If your organisation is looking to measure and improve its employee engagement, there are a number of controllable factors across the employee lifecycle you should be focusing on. Our research has uncovered 10 key employee engagement drivers that will help you to gain accurate and fair understanding of your workforce when conducting employee listening.

Here, we’re going to focus on one of these key drivers: empowerment.

What is empowerment?

Empowerment is all about giving employees the freedom, trust and tools they need to take ownership of their work – helping them feel empowered to make decisions without fear of reprisal.

Why is empowerment important for employee engagement?

Employee empowerment is important for employee engagement because it gives employees a sense of control over their work and a feeling that they are valued and trusted. When employees feel empowered, they are more likely to be motivated, productive, and engaged in their work.

What are the benefits of prioritising empowerment?

Here are some of the benefits of employee empowerment:

  • Increased motivation: Empowered employees are more likely to be motivated to do their best work. They feel like they have a stake in the company and are invested in its success.
  • Improved productivity: Empowered employees are more likely to be productive. They’re able to make decisions and take action without having to wait for permission. This can lead to faster decision-making and improved efficiency.
  • Greater job satisfaction: Empowered employees are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. They feel like they are making a difference and that their work is valued. This can lead to lower turnover and absenteeism.
  • Improved customer service: Empowered employees are more likely to provide better customer service. They’re able to use their own judgment to resolve customer issues and are more likely to go the extra mile to help customers.

What are the outcomes of a lack of empowerment?

A lack of employee empowerment can have a number of negative outcomes for both employees and organisations.

For employees, a lack of empowerment can lead to:

  • Reduced motivation: When employees feel like they have no control over their work, they’re less likely to be motivated to do their best.
  • Decreased productivity: Employees who are not empowered are less likely to be productive. They may feel like their work is not valued and may not be as invested in their jobs.
  • Increased turnover and absenteeism: Employees who feel like they are not empowered are more likely to leave their jobs or take more sick days.
  • Lower job satisfaction: Employees who do not feel empowered are less likely to be satisfied with their jobs. They may feel like they are not making a difference and that their work is not valued.

For organisations, a lack of employee empowerment can lead to:

  • Reduced innovation: Employees who are not empowered are less likely to come up with new ideas or solutions.
  • Increased costs: Organisations may have to spend more money on training, recruiting, and retaining employees.
  • Lower customer satisfaction: Customers may be less satisfied with the service they receive from employees who are not empowered.
  • Reduced profits: Organisations may see a decrease in profits due to a lack of productivity, innovation, and customer satisfaction.

How can you support empowerment?

Many of your team members will be competent in performing their role, but how do you help them develop to take ownership of their position – delivering what they need, when they need to – and putting their own stamp on it?

These top tips can help you improve your team members’ feelings of empowerment:

  • Build their confidence: Emphasise how the best ideas often come from the ‘shop floor’ – employees who are closest to the work or serving customers. Use empowering language such as compliments, recognition, and talking positively about their strengths to reinforce their confidence and self-belief.
  • Agree the challenge: Identify each individual’s strengths and core talents, and where these overlap with key business priorities or areas your team needs to improve. These provide great challenges which will energise your team members and make a real difference to the business.
  • Set clear expectations: Agree with each individual what you want to gain from a task or project including goals, deadlines and what the final product should look like.
  • Create distance: Give team members enough space to make their own path. It’s useful to set a goal/objective, but you should trust them to deliver what you need in their own way.
  • Agree regular check-in points: Ensure regular check-ins are scheduled and agree how these will be done – via email, phone, video-conferencing or face-to-face – and the content you want to discuss during the meetings. Strive to provide a balance between providing challenge and support.  Your aim is to ensure everything is on track but coach people to come up with their own solutions, rather than immediately offering your own.
  • Review and learn: When feedback is delivered, ask your team members to share their thoughts on what went well or could go better next time. Remove the fear of failure by ensuring that when mistakes are made or tasks are not completed, the feedback given is not overly critical of the individual involved. Instead of focusing on what has gone wrong, look for opportunities to develop or improve. Failure should be seen as a learning process which can help development, and instil a sense of ownership and empowerment.

Related content:

[RESEARCH] The State of Employee Engagement 2022

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