By: Helios on February 14th, 2013

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Do Your Employees Feel Empowered?

Communication | Total Rewards | Business Management & Strategy | Best Practices | Employee Relations

Providing employees with a sense of involvement in decision making and an ability to drive results for final outcomes has been proven to increase employee satisfaction. The concept of "employee empowerment" is often defined simply as allowing employees at all levels of the organization to have a part in making business decisions. For instance, share information and give employees the opportunity to make decisions that solve problems, improve service and performance. Empowerment is based on the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, as well as holding them responsible and accountable, will contribute to their competence and satisfaction, ultimately leading to achievement of organizational goals.

In order to foster a culture of employee empowerment, management must trust and communicate with employees, providing high levels of organizational transparency. Management must be willing to communicate aspects of the business to its employees in an open and honest manner. This communication may include the strategic plan, financial performance, key performance indicators and daily-decision making. Empowerment involves the encouragement of employees to be innovative and creative in their approaches to solving problems, and allowing them in alignment with company policies, to make decisions on their own without continuous oversight. A manager who is dedicated to employee empowerment should be willing to give up control of some aspects of the business.

The approach to moving an organization in the direction of employee empowerment includes many considerations. First, management needs to embrace the concept of employees being able to bring suggestions and decisions forward for consideration. Management then will need to be ready to implement these ideas or be able to explain to the employee why it is not feasible. Nothing is less empowering than to introduce the concept and then not adopt or implement any ideas or decisions brought forward by staff.

Start small — if this concept is very new to the culture of your organization, begin with a "suggestion box." This is where ideas employees can deposit their recommendations and/or ideas for business improvement. A scheduled date for review should be set and posted. Suggestions boxes can also have incentives tied to specific outcomes to further encourage the sharing of ideas. Other ways to foster employee empowerment are to develop team-based committees consisting of employees at various levels who regularly review and address company processes, policies or other organizational opportunities. In addition, as part of the competencies of the organization, a focus on innovation and creative problem solving can be incorporated to emphasize the importance of empowerment as a core value and expectation for success.

Establishing a culture of empowered employees whose ideas and suggestions are truly valued creates a more engaged workforce and focuses everyone on the success of the company. True employee empowerment will impact employee retention, attract innovative talent, and foster future leaders for the organization who are intent on participating in identifying solutions to the many challenges faced in the business world as well as looking for better ways to achieve business goals.