Empowering employees - what does it really mean and how can you implement it into your business? We give you some simple to action ideas and cover some of the amazing benefits associated with empowering your employees.
Employee empowerment is the process of allowing your employees to have control over their work and for them to be able to openly share suggestions and ideas about not only their work, but the company as a whole. Empowered employees are usually more committed, conscientious and loyal.
If your employees feel important in their role and feel that their opinions matter, they are likely to be happier and more productive. If they feel they are simply treated like a number and not asked for input then they are likely to simply perform the bare minimum in their role and are easier to be tempted to a competitor where they can have an input. Whilst these employees can be replaced, the additional cost of recruiting could be avoided with some simple tips.
Your employees trust you to make decisions that will have a direct impact on them. How would you feel about also trusting them to make their own decisions, with agreed boundaries if you have to, to create a more positive working environment. A frightening prospect? Maybe not if you look at the benefits associated with empowering employees.
Highlighting the benefits of empowering employees
There are some simple facts to consider. Empowered employees are more engaged and this will have an immediate impact on productivity. Employees will be committed to working with little guidance and will even put themselves forward for additional work. The benefit to you - reduced costs.
A recent survey by Gallup showcases the incredible results you can achieve -
On top of all of this, if you empower your teams, they are more likely to embrace change. Whether it's an initiative from management or something that they have identified themselves as a potential area for improvement, empowered employees will give it their all to ensure it is a success. On the flip side, if they think that the change would have any negative impact, they are more likely to voice their concern and it may well be something that management didn't consider and may make all the difference by preventing a problem before it becomes a reality.
An employee who isn't empowered and therefore less engaged is likely to either repel the change, or worse still, do it anyway, aware of the pitfalls but with the feeling that it doesn't really matter - as why should they care about you if you don't care about them. Rather sad isn't it?
You want to be surrounded by a team who wants nothing but good things for themselves, their colleagues, and the company.
Sounds like an impossible challenge?
Our 4 simple steps that you can implement now to empower your employees
Step 1 - GROUP COMMUNICATION
Communication can be an issue in companies of any size and can be just as difficult in a small company as a large corporate. Assuming that everyone will be as committed as you and will naturally come forward is a mistake often made by business leaders and owners. Would you launch a new product or service without communicating this to your employees? The same should apply to internal initiatives.
Call a company wide meeting, or smaller team meetings if you need to and let your employees know how important they all are as individuals and how important their input is into the success of the business. We call it "Your Part To Play" in an overall employee engagement strategy. You may be surprised at who comes forward with ideas!
Step 2 - KEEP YOUR DOOR OPEN
With anything new, you may need to give the less confident employees a way to voice their opinions in a more private manner. Let them know that you are accessible to them and don't hide behind your office door. Obviously this has to fit with the needs of the business so you may also want to consider another option as well as being available as and when you can.
This could be something as quick and simple to implement as an ideas box in a communal area where employees can post their ideas with the option to remain anonymous. Make it known that it is you that looks at the comments and for those that you can identify, personally respond to the idea they have proposed.
Once your employees start to see the positive impact of sharing these ideas then you will have created a culture of continuous improvement and they are more likely to come forward naturally.
Step 3 - GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Do you have a real divide between employees and management? If you do, then you will find that empowering employees will be more challenging. However, this is easy to fix.
Spending time with your employees in a more informal environment will make them feel more comfortable to share ideas with you and if you spend a little time getting to know them then they will feel important and more engaged. Just spending 1 day a week joining your employees at lunch or arranging informal after work 'get togethers' can make all the difference.
Step 4 - DEMONSTRATE YOUR TRUST
You've got a couple of options when it comes to demonstrating your trust when empowering employees. You can go to the extremes of setting official boundaries and having official guidelines for any decision that you are happy for your teams to make, or if this is all a bit too much at the beginning, there is a softer option.
Try delegating something more than a work project or additional tasks to an individual or ideally a team. Here at JobHoller, we are real advocates of arranging a monthly get together for our teams and have referred to this before in our blogs. There's a reason we arrange an event every first Friday and it's not just about being social.
Couple your initiatives for empowering employees with creating your culture and engaging your teams. In our blog How To Engage Employees we talked about introducing a social committee and giving them a monthly budget to support outside activities or things to improve the workplace and this is an amazing way to demonstrate your trust. Obviously there will be the need to rubber stamp anything, otherwise this could get out of hand, so you will still need to set some guidelines but they will be quick and simple to set up.
There's a lot more you can do when it comes to empowering employees but even implementing something as simple as the ideas above can make a considerable difference.
JobHoller are an employer branding agency that help companies across the UK approach their recruitment in a different way with incredible results.
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