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In order for employees to feel and perform their best at work, they have to be engaged, happy, trusted, and recognized. These are all words you’ve heard before and you may have strategies implemented to improve them.
However, one important factor of employee productivity and satisfaction doesn’t get much attention: employee empowerment. Your people must feel empowered to do their best work, or else they’ll underperform and be disengaged.
What is employee empowerment?
The definition of empowerment is the act of granting someone the power or authority to perform certain tasks. Or, in other words, the process of becoming stronger and more confident in controlling one's work life and responsibilities.
How does that apply to employees? Well, think of it this way: employee empowerment is the opposite of micromanagement. It’s trusting employees to excel and giving them the power to make decisions and handle responsibilities as they see fit.
What are the benefits of empowering employees?
In a study done by Forbes, we see that employees who feel a low level of empowerment are in the 24th percentile of engagement, while employees who feel a high level of empowerment are in the 79th percentile.
So empowerment is a big part of employee engagement, which leads to higher productivity, loyalty, and profitability, plus lower turnover and absenteeism.
In addition to engagement, empowered employees have been found to be more satisfied, creative, and helpful, while also performing better.
So helping employees feel empowered should be a priority for any business leader. But what are some strategies to empower employees?
6 Strategies to Empower Employees
1. Create a Healthy Loop of Honest Feedback
A feedback loop is one of the best ways to improve feelings of trust and empowerment in your workplace. As a leader, you have the responsibility to provide honest feedback in a constructive way. This helps employees know that when they put in effort, they’ll get the feedback they need to improve and continue to get better.
When giving feedback, focus on employees’ strengths and be sure to make it a conversation—let employees ask questions, share their thoughts, etc.
And be open to employee feedback, too! If feedback only ever goes one way, that’s not a healthy loop.
2. Recognize and Reward to Drive Behaviors
When employees take the initiative and strive for excellence, they need to be recognized. Empowered employees naturally put in more effort, including taking some risks—leaders have to show that they see and value those efforts, and recognition is the best way to do that.
Recognizing and praising good work builds trust, purpose, collaboration, and work quality, while also increasing engagement and productivity by 14%. Not only that, but 40% of employees would put more effort into their work if they were recognized for their efforts more.
Empower your employees by recognizing the work they’re already doing and driving those productive behaviors.
3. Foster Trust Through Autonomy
Autonomy means giving employees the means and the trust to work on their own. It means celebrating successes and helping employees learn from mistakes. When employees feel that they’re trusted to put in their own efforts, and they aren’t afraid of making mistakes, they’ll feel more empowered.
One of the best ways to strengthen autonomy is to effectively delegate responsibilities. Give employees new tasks that they’re interested in and allow them to grow into their new roles. And don’t micromanage!
4. Support Growth Through Professional Development
There is a strong correlation between professional development and high feelings of empowerment. Help employees develop new skills and take on new responsibilities through coaching, courses, or other training, and you’ll show your teams that the company is willing to invest in your people.
71% of employees say that training and development increase their job satisfaction, and 61% say that learning new skills is important for retaining them. Empower your employees to learn, grow, and develop as professionals, and they’ll be happier for it.
5. Provide Necessary Expectations and Resources
In order for employees to feel empowered, they have to be confident in the direction they’re going. They have to know what’s expected of them, even when they’re not given step-by-step instructions on how to get from point A to point B.
Balance clear expectations with the freedom to make decisions and tackle responsibilities.
And this goes without saying, but ensure employees have the resources they need to excel, including the right hardware and software, fitting training, and advice from leaders they trust.
6. Be Open to New Ideas
When employees are empowered to succeed, they’ll naturally think of new ways to help themselves, their teams, and even the company find that success. Company leaders need to be open to those new ideas.
Listen with an open mind when employees share their ideas on how the company can perform better, how to improve culture, how to refine processes, etc. If there are good reasons to reject their ideas, share your feedback while thanking them for their thoughts.
However, if the ideas have merit, show them that you value their ideas by considering them and potentially implementing them! Both excellent and foolish ideas deserve leadership’s full attention because that openness and trust fosters empowerment.
Empower Excellent Employees to Excel Endlessly
The best companies empower their employees to excel. They accept and even encourage mistakes because that helps their people grow and improve. They invest in training and development, and they don’t micromanage. They encourage openness in their communication and feedback.
These strategies should help you empower your employees regardless of their role or responsibilities. To learn more about how recognition increases employee empowerment, contact Awardco.