What Is Employee Empowerment And Why Is It Important?

Word writing text Empower Engage Enable Enhance. Business conceptA recent report by Seibert, Wang and Courtright in Applied Psychology magazine carried out an analytical review of the consequences of team empowerment in organisations.

They concluded that ‘when employees feel empowered at work, it’s associated with stronger job performance, job satisfaction and commitment to the organisation’.

What, then, is empowerment in the workplace?

Is it different from engagement?

Why is it important? We discuss the implications in this article.

Firstly, what is employee empowerment? Well, it can be compared to but isn’t the same as, engagement.

Employee Engagement is the person’s discretionary and chosen commitment to the improvement of performance through increased effort and intent.

Employee Empowerment is the trust given to someone to enable them to become encouraged and motivated to perform at their best.

What does employee empowerment involve?

• Giving accountability and responsibility

• Allocating trust

• Apportioning autonomy

• Helping people solve problems

• Coaching them to a higher performance level

• Delegating work that challenges and stretches the individual

• Encouraging them to make their own decision

• Seeing failure as a learning experience What do we see as some

of the benefits of employee empowerment?

• An increased desire to perform

• Improved communication processes

• A dedication to improved efficiency

• An ability to embrace change as the only way forward

• A commitment to positive attitudes

• A chance to break out of the comfort zone

• Improved overall results

What can we do to empower our employees to perform at a higher level, without causing increased risks that could cause future problems? Here are some ideas:

1) Seek out people who you feel would embrace empowerment

Many managers we talk to excuse themselves from delegating because they feel their team members are happy just doing a job, coming in from 9 to 5, doing their shift and then going home. Although we know there are some people who have gradually succumbed to the malaise of mediocrity and average performance, we also know there are many who have the desire to better themselves and want to learn to benefit their career prospects or their job opportunities.

Look for people who want to be empowered, who are asking for more responsibility and would relish the challenge further empowerment would give them

2) Set specific goals and objectives that are clear and challenging

Employees feel empowered if they know what they are heading for and feel the goal is inspirational. Setting clear goals makes people drive their self-motivation towards achievement and accomplishment. Making those goals challenging ensures it stretches and develops their skillsets on that journey

3) Offer coaching sessions so they can learn from mentors and experienced people

Employee empowerment can be enhanced when they have someone who has ‘been there and done that’ helping them develop their skills quickly and effectively. These don’t have to be formal sessions but can take place on occasions when there are opportunities to grow and develop a person’s skill.

4) Link empowerment to growth opportunities

When a person can see the correlation between their empowerment and their chances for development and growth, it increases their desire to improve and become the person they know they have the capability of becoming.

The importance of employee empowerment can be seen in people who come up with creative ideas and innovative processes. They want to be part of the solution rather than the problem and empowerment gives them the chance to shine and look forward to advancements in other areas.

5) Tie improved job responsibility with increased recognition

When employees feel empowered, they look to the future for further opportunities within the business. Don’t under-estimate, though, the power of short-term recognition to the increased responsibility you are offering employees.

Look at how their increased empowerment is contributing to results and help them analyse what else will help them improve their chances of recognition within the company in the future.

The importance of employee empowerment is increasing as the new generations seek job satisfaction in more ways than just increases in pay. If we are to encourage people to bring their discretionary efforts to the workplace, we can do a lot worse than looking at employee empowerment to achieve greater results for the individual, the team and the company.

Now you understand what employee empowerment is, it’s time to put the knowledge into actions with our 10 Steps to Empowerment.

Thanks again

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 22 May, 2019

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