Employee Empowerment: Why Is It Important?

Here’s how employers can create a more autonomous workplace culture in 2023!

The well-being of employees is directly linked to how empowered they feel at their workplace. In order to establish empowerment as an objective in an organization, there needs to be a dedicated effort on the employer/manager’s part. A simple pat on the back can be conducive to the professional growth of workers. The enactment of empowerment programs can look like fair wages, positive feedback or mentorship. There are a number of ways to incorporate empowerment strategies. Here is a little insight as to why empowerment is necessary for workplace culture.

Out With the Old, In With the New

The need to bring reform in organizational ethics has become overwhelmingly apparent. The 2015  investigative report on Amazon’s ill-treatment of workers shows just how much employees can suffer at the hand of authoritative leadership. This is where employee empowerment comes in. The magic elixir to all organizational ills. The shift to alternative forms of working, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, paved the way for employee empowerment in recent years. This is because remote work presented itself with its own set of challenges. Individuals no longer had to rely on the conventional management system they had been long accustomed to. As employee monitoring became less strict a rule, it presented employees the opportunity to practice autonomy in fulfilling work tasks. Remote work allowed individuals to practice a better balance of work and home responsibilities. The advantages of empowerment can be reflected in employee well-being. 

How exactly do employers/managers empower workers? It is interlinked with performance management. If an organization has a strong employee performance management system in place, then consider half the job done. This data provides insight that is useful for managers for the improvement of workplace culture. It is also essential that organizations leverage autonomy to employees in terms of their work responsibilities. This instills in them a sense of leadership which enables them to make the right decisions. In decision-making processes, the input of employees can work wonders for the organization. Empowered individuals are better equipped to assert confidence when making tough decisions. This can be a driving force for the success of any organization.

What Do Organizations Have to Lose?

Empowerment as a management approach benefits employers and employees alike. It significantly contributes to the productivity of the organization. Then why is it that many organizations continue to disregard this vital aspect of work culture? To start with, empowered employees are a major threat to managers. It renders the job of a manager obsolete. The power dynamics within an organization shift when an empowerment initiative is enacted. Therefore, it is only logical to expect opposition to an approach such as this one. There is comfort in relying on old forms of management. Newer approaches bring uncertainty with them. Most organizations then consider the safe option.

Another challenge that some organizations face is that they fail to routinize this strategy into the work setup. This is because employees are already tasked with work duties which can make empowerment programs seem like a hindrance. Not all employees are willing either to take up empowered roles. However, it all depends on how empowerment is enacted within an organization. There are effective ways to implement such initiatives. Team charters are a great way to go about it. Empowerment strategies should be welcomed with open arms because they make workers more accountable for their actions, thereby lifting the weight off their manager’s shoulders. Organizations should constantly be on the lookout for improvement, even if that means trying out new strategies.

Team Charters for the Win

Team charters are excellent goal-setting tools. These are great for introducing empowerment in organizations. This is because Team Engagement Charters (ETC) are co-created with the input of all members. If managers are looking for ways to empower their workers, then this is a great method. It is common to find empowerment efforts result in failure because of a lack of commitment from the members involved. If there is an understanding of what the initiative entails, then the chances of it being met with success are high. Therefore, energy should be directed into realizing empowerment goals, whether they concern an individual or a whole group. Team charters are incredible in helping employers enrich the organizational culture through participation. This is an excellent way to go about empowering employees. This small process can yield great results. It introduces transparency and accountability within the workplace and delegates authority to workers. 

Empowerment Through Appreciation

When employers/managers value an individual’s work, it inspires them to perform better. It makes them more confident and reaffirms their faith in their organization. This is a highly effective strategy. The professional growth of an employee is reliant on feedback which is why employers should actively find ways to show appreciation. This can be achieved through a rewards system as well. The carrot-and-stick approach can be a good way to go about this. This is an easy approach to empowerment.

The quarterly performance review should include the value a certain employee brings to the workplace. By doing so, individuals can self-reflect, which can lead them toward empowerment. If needed, mentorship should be offered. This can be game-changing for people in terms of achieving their goals. The expertise of a professional can guide employees to make the best decisions. By seeking the services of a professional, organizations can find themselves one step closer to an empowered organization. This is an investment that all employers should consider making. It can be highly profitable in the long term. 

Empowering Women at Work

Women make up a significant number of the workforce. It is important that organizations pursue initiatives that empower women. By introducing small changes into the organizational culture, like equal pay, open communication or diversifying leadership positions, employers can transform their organizations for the better. This can enhance organizational productivity incredibly. Empowerment efforts need to be institutionalized. It is the only way to make this management approach work. In 2023, there will be an increasing demand for organizational ethics. There is a growing awareness among the newer generation of employees, which directs them to seek the best alternatives possible. In the upcoming year, organizations will have to improve their culture if they plan on recruiting skilled professionals. It has become a necessity in this time and age to meet the demands of employees. 

Employee Empowerment in Practice

Initiatives directed at empowerment involve the process of delegating autonomy to workers in decision-making. Employee performance reviews assist the process of empowering workers by recognizing the key areas which require improvement. This directs managers to work in partnership with employees to help keep them on track. An empowered organization is a force to be reckoned with. To bring an empowered organization to life, there needs to be an intentional effort toward the goal. A great way of making this happen is with the help of technology. Automation tech can simplify routine tasks for employees and, subsequently, free up their time. This is an excellent way of reducing the workload so that employees can focus on more productive tasks. 

It is also worth noting that empowerment can look different for everyone. Therefore, managers need to be mindful of the changes they bring to the workplace. Organizations should allow employees to pick out their job benefits instead of applying standard criteria for everyone. This can make workers feel valued and appreciated. A controversial take on empowerment strategies has to be the decision to let employees set their own deadlines. Everyone works at their own pace, and employers should realize this. If employers are truly invested in empowering employees, then this is worth considering. As workplace dynamics continue to evolve, it is important that employers work toward the betterment of employees. 

Employee Empowerment as a Gen Z Trend

The Gen Z workforce has a lot of expectations from employers, albeit reasonable ones. This generation is not afraid of seeking job alternatives if their needs are not met in a particular work setting. The Great Resignation is a testament to this assertion. The demands from the Gen Z workforce are a response to the traditional organizational culture. The newer generation is resisting outdated organizational practices, and rightfully so. If any organization plans on retaining employees, then it must refocus its goals toward employee empowerment. This change will only add to the benefit of employers in the long term. An organization is only as efficient as its employees are. Empowerment programs incentivize individuals to work on their personal and professional goals. 

If you have anything to add, feel free to comment below!

Featured Image: Culture Monkey

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