Walt Disney once said, “You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world … but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” He knew it was important to empower all cast members at Disneyland to achieve excellence, perform outstandingly, and deliver unique services to every guest.
So is employee empowerment just another HR buzzword and the latest trend, or is it essential for an organization’s success?
In fact, it’s indeed something particularly meaningful that seems to affect employee engagement, performance, and as a result, your business outcomes.
In this article, we will delve into the concept of giving power to your employees, why it matters, what benefits it offers to your employees and your organization, as well as how to empower employees.
Empowered employees and a creative workplace
When people are empowered, they can accomplish everything they have in mind, and they are fully aware of that. And that’s all because of their confidence.
Empowering employees doesn’t mean keeping them productive with role-specific training, or just satisfied with cool perks. It means making sure they have a voice and an impact on how jobs get done. It means giving them all the opportunities to grow beyond their job scope.
When wondering how to empower employees, you should keep the following in mind:
- Ensure that employees do have a voice as you act on their feedback
- Make certain that employees are more independent and can grow and develop
- Provide recognition to increase employee engagement and build their confidence
- Offer tools, additional training (i.e., on soft skills), and authority so that they can succeed
But why is it essential to invest in empowering employees? What does this initiative mean for your employees and your organization?
Keeping your employees empowered can bring a plethora of benefits to your organization. Some of these advantages include:
- Greater trust in leadership: Employees who feel their voices are heard are more likely to share their thoughts and ideas for improvement, and assist in fine-tuning internal processes. They also feel connected to leadership and are not reluctant to unfold their full potential.
- Encouragement of employee motivation: Fueled-up employees tend to be more motivated on a daily basis. With lack of empowerment and confidence, chances are your employees will lose interest in their field, and your organization might come face to face with the phenomenon of “quiet quitting.”
- More innovation: Happy, engaged, motivated, and empowered employees can think outside the box and find better, more creative ways to complete tasks and help your business grow.
- Improved employee retention: Content employees are more likely to stick around for longer than those who feel drained or discouraged. You wouldn’t want to have high turnover rates, as this can sabotage your business’ workflow.
- Better bottom line: Happy employees equals happy customers. And when you have happy customers, your income increases, your ROI becomes better, and your business grows faster.
9 ways to kickstart your employee empowerment plan
Exploring and planning your strategy on how to empower employees so that people can go the extra mile needs careful consideration. Below you will find some useful tips on how to achieve that.
1. Create a continuous learning environment
Knowledge is power. Creating a learning culture within your organization can assist in empowering your employees.
Training shouldn’t be a one-time thing. What you’re aiming for is to foster a continuous learning culture among employees. Ongoing development can boost morale, improve engagement, and, as a result, positively impact performance.
When people know they have continuous learning opportunities in your organization, they are confident they can follow a different career path if they wish. They have the chance to explore new areas and start thinking outside the box.
2. Focus on soft skills
Employee training targeted at job-related skills is definitely something you shouldn’t miss. But what can really empower them is investing in soft skills training.
Provide soft skills training to your employees and assist them in improving the following skills:
- time management
- physical wellness and mental wellbeing
But don’t forget leaders, too. Managers are a very important part of your organization. Functional teams require competent managers who make sure that the job is done but also care for their employees. Thus, it’s essential that you also train your managers to become great leaders who put effort into empowering their teams.
3. Leverage coaching and mentorship programs
Coaching and mentoring can do wonders for empowering employees. You give employees the chance to receive hands-on knowledge from the experts in your business. This way, they feel more independent and more aware of their role within the organization.
At the same time, coaches and mentors are given the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise with other employees and help them enhance their skills. This builds up their confidence as they feel more valued.
4. Encourage self-paced learning
The better we understand, the more confident we are. But not everyone learns the same. This is why the best way to learn is to do it at your own pace.
There is no one-size fits all approach to learning. Don’t force your people to learn and understand training content through a methodology that makes them feel uncomfortable and brings no results. Independent learning does the trick for truly empowering your employees and having them reach their full potential.
5. Reward efforts and progress
Remember how happy and proud we felt as children when our teacher gave us a sticker when our homework was on fleek?
Your employees need the same to feel valued and appreciated. Not a sticker, of course, but it’s essential that you recognize their efforts and progress. Most importantly, when they go above and beyond. If your employees are aware that you appreciate their assistance, they feel more motivated but also more committed to their role and your organization.
Set up a reward system and put it into practice the soonest possible. Some great ideas for employee rewards are:
- Public acknowledgment on social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn)
- Paid time off or paid vacations
- Free educational courses on fields they like
6. Establish trust
In every healthy and stable relationship, the most crucial element is trust. Sometimes it can be challenging for employees to trust leadership. Start building the foundations of trust by proving to your employees that your organization and leadership are trustworthy.
How will you achieve that? By recognizing their efforts, being true to your principles and work culture, and sticking to your promises for employee development and professional growth. But most importantly, allow your people to feel independent.
7. Encourage independence
Micromanaging is incredibly detrimental to workflow. Your employees feel scrutinized for each and every decision. They feel threatened and undermined, while teamwork and collaboration are not being promoted in such environments. This will lead to lower morale, satisfaction, and retention.
Instead, autonomy and independence are essential qualities in any workplace. Employees are given clear guidelines and tasks, while leadership lets them do what they need to do. They might approach it differently, but if they deliver without someone watching over them the whole time, their self-reliance increases, as well as critical and creative thinking and problem-solving.
8. Ask for feedback and be an active listener
If you’re looking for ways to empower your employees, a great strategy you can follow is to ask them what would boost their power.
As simple as that! Invest in feedback by conducting surveys, or planning meetings where employees can share their thoughts and ideas freely. Listen to concerns, don’t hide behind closed doors, and build positive relationships with your employees.
9. Promote stress-free time
Well-rested employees are more likely to be productive, satisfied, and focused on their tasks. Sometimes, those high-performing individuals need a reminder to take some time off and decompress. Encourage employees to get away from their duties, ensure they use their vacation time, and allow them to completely disconnect from their job while away.
At the same time, you can include training that focuses on how to take care of their mental health. Especially for your remote workforce, it’s essential to stress the importance of workplace well-being.
Also, financial wellness programs could be helpful in your employee empowerment strategy, as with inflation outpacing wage rises, the cost of living blowing up, and pension plans in decline, financial insecurity is deepening. Offering awareness on financial stability can do wonders for your people.
Give them fuel, give them fire!
While exploring how to empower employees in the workplace, you get to decide which strategies work best for your business.
Getting the best out of everyone and watching your employees work to the best of their abilities is magic. People have something valuable to contribute besides their job skills, so if you start paying attention to how you can make the most out of your teams, you will soon see successful results and low turnover.
Your workforce needs force. Hence, it needs power. And that’s what you’ll achieve with your employee empowerment strategy.