Employee Empowerment: Why it Matters and How to Achieve it

Laura Moss

Sr. Content Marketing Manager

12 minute read

illustration of woman holding bus full of people

We know employee engagement is essential to an organization’s success. After all, it increases productivity, profitability, job satisfaction, and more.

But what many companies fail to realize is that they can’t have engaged workers without employee empowerment.

Disempowered employees rank in the 24th percentile of engagement, according to a study of more than 7,000 workers, while employees who feel empowered at work rank in the 79th percentile.

The latter are happier, more productive, and more loyal to the company, which is beneficial not only to the workers themselves, but also to their employer.

Today, employee empowerment is more important than ever, so you need to understand what it is and the steps you can take to empower your people.

 

What is Employee Empowerment?

Employee empowerment refers to the ways an organization provides employees with the autonomy and support they need to make their own decisions, be accountable for them, and take control of their personal success.

In other words, it’s the opposite of micromanagement.

Employee empowerment involves more than simply giving employees authority though. It entails the following:

  • Fostering an environment that encourages feedback and where employees feel psychologically safe voicing their ideas and opinions
  • Providing workers with resources, training, and educational opportunities to learn, grow, and expand their positions
  • Giving employees more responsibilities, greater autonomy, the chance to lead, and the opportunity to take on entirely new roles
  • Regular performance reviews and one-on-one check-ins that occur throughout the year, so employees can set goals, provide feedback, and receive guidance and coaching
  • Recognizing and rewarding workers for their contributions to the organization

Why is Employee Empowerment Important?

The most successful companies are the ones that Sarah Jensen Clayton, senior client partner at Korn Ferry, calls “employee-obsessed organizations.”

These companies understand that their people are their most important asset. These organizations’ leaders know that employees need to feel empowered in order to achieve goals, fulfill the company’s mission, and drive value for its customers.

Let’s take a deeper look at exactly how employee empowerment benefits both workers and the company as a whole.

 

It improves employee motivation and job satisfaction.

Studies show that when people have greater autonomy and are trusted to make their own decisions and work when and where they want, employees work harder, find their work more engaging, and are more satisfied with their jobs overall.

 

It strengthens trust in leadership.

Managers that are viewed as empowering are more likely to be viewed as trustworthy, and employees at high-trust companies report the following:

  • 74% less stress
  • 50% higher productivity
  • 106% more energy at work
  • 13% fewer sick days
  • 76% more engagement
  • 29% more satisfaction in their lives
  • 40% less burnout
 

It influences citizenship behavior.

Citizenship behavior refers to an employee’s voluntary commitment to behaviors that aren’t part of their contractual obligations. Empowered employees exhibit greater citizenship behavior and are more likely to help their co-workers, volunteer to take on more responsibilities, and attend non-mandatory work functions and training.

 

It boosts creativity.

Managers who encourage workers to think for themselves, generate their own ideas, and brainstorm new solutions have more creative subordinates, according to a Harvard analysis of 30,000 workers in 30 countries. These empowered employees were also more committed to organizational goals and channeled their creativity toward achieving them.

 

It increases productivity and profitability.

Employee empowerment increases engagement among workers, making them 21% more profitable. Disengaged employees, however, cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion annually.

 

How to Improve Employee Empowerment at Your Organization

Prioritizing employee empowerment clearly has a wealth of benefits. Now let’s take a look at specific steps you can take to ensure that employee empowerment is embedded in your company culture.

 

Invite them to become advocates.

Show team members that you not only value their thoughts and opinions but also trust them to post about the company by inviting them to participate in your employee advocacy program.

An advocacy solution like EveryoneSocial makes it a breeze to build their personal brands and expand their networks.

 
Invite colleagues to EveryoneSocial.
 

Plus, there are countless benefits for the organization as well.

 

Foster psychological safety.

When team members feel psychologically safe in the workplace, they’re comfortable taking interpersonal risks like sharing ideas, asking questions, and expressing concerns.

There are many ways that management especially can contribute to creating this kind of workplace. Here are just a few:

  • Work on interpersonal communication skills
  • Practice active listening
  • Recognize problems and discuss their impact and possible solutions
  • Ask open-ended questions to open up dialogue
  • Express appreciation when a team member shares an idea or raises a problem
  • Practice empathy

Encourage and solicit regular feedback.

A workplace that’s open to ideas, questions, and criticism from everyone — no matter who it’s coming from — is one where employees feel empowered to speak their minds.

In fact, employees who feel “heard” by leaders are nearly five times more likely to do their best work.

It’s essential to have systems in place to share this type of feedback, such as regular reviews, sending out engagement surveys, and a virtual suggestion box.

However, feedback doesn’t have to be part of a formalized process — it should be part of company culture. Encourage this by wrapping up meetings with question-and-answer sessions, frequently asking for employee opinions, and always being receptive to their thoughts.

 

Take action on that feedback

It’s not enough to solicit feedback or conduct regular engagement surveys — you must also take action in response to them.

If you tell employees that you’re open to their thoughts but don’t actually heed their advice, they’re not going to believe that the organization is truly open to their feedback. And they’ll quit bothering.

Giving employees a real voice in company matters has a real impact though. In fact, 90% of workers say they’re more likely to remain at an organization that acts on feedback.

 

Identify gaps and bridge them.

Does your organization actually practice the employee empowerment it touts? Does leadership really value workers’ thoughts and opinions?

Only 19% of employees say their work experience matches what the company promotes, and 58% of non-management workers say that their managers act in accordance with their words. Yikes.

This kind of disconnect impacts not only employee empowerment, but also engagement and retention. Plus, dissatisfied employees aren’t ones you want advocating on the organization’s behalf.

So talk to employees, solicit feedback, and conduct engagement surveys to identify these discrepancies and take steps to overcome them.

 

Recognize employees.

There’s no shortage of reasons why employee recognition is important in the workplace.

It improves performance, engagement, motivation, and retention. Plus, it’s been linked to greater employee empowerment and even higher stock prices.

So make recognition as regular at your organization as soliciting feedback.

Give immediate recognition for a job well done, make notes to include specific praise in future evaluations, and celebrate workers in front of the team in meetings, in Slack, or via your employee advocacy platform.

 

Provide development opportunities.

Empowered employees receive ongoing training and learning opportunities to aid in their professional development and advancement.

This is especially important to Millennials, who comprise more than a third of the workforce. In fact, 87% of them say that education and development is important to them and plays a significant role in their retention.

 
LinkedIn learning.

These opportunities are key to employee empowerment because they show workers that companies value them and are willing to invest in their advancement.

 

Prioritize job enlargement and enrichment.

These are key concepts of employee empowerment that can’t be overlooked if you want to increase employee engagement, motivation, and satisfaction.

Job enlargement entails expanding a worker’s role horizontally to include more varied activities or additional responsibilities. For example, allowing an employee to manage inventory when this was previously done by their manager.

Job enrichment, on the other hand, is specifically focused on expanding a role vertically to create a more motivating job. Examples of job enrichment include offering ongoing employee education or developing an employee-incentive program.

 

Empower Employees with EveryoneSocial

The key to true employee empowerment is to embed it in company culture, and a pure play employee advocacy solution can help.

EveryoneSocial streamlines communications and improves knowledge sharing to keep workers informed, and it has countless features to help employees perform their jobs better,

Plus, it motivates your team to share content, build their personal brands, and expand their networks.

Try it for FREE and see firsthand how EveryoneSocial can revolutionize your workplace and empower employees.


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