Empowering employees is one of the most effective means of motivating individuals in your employ to feel personally invested in the direction of the company and commit to moving the business forward. With the right type of employee empowerment, owners and managers can boost employee morale, greatly reduce employee attrition and make the process of retaining valuable employees much easier. While there are a number of strategies for managing this process of employee empowerment, many of them focus around the single characteristic of communication.
One of the key elements to employee empowerment requires that owners and managers effectively articulate the vision and goals of the company to all workers. This goes beyond simply handing out a printed statement or giving a speech once or twice each year. As part of the presentation of these visions and goals, employees must be free to ask questions and receive answers that help them understand and begin to own those goals.
Another key element of employee empowerment means recognition of the gifts and talents that each employee brings to the workplace. No two employees are alike, and those differences in skill sets, personal demeanor, strengths, and weaknesses should be acknowledged. When this is done properly, employee and manager can often work together to find the best way to make use of those strengths while minimizing the impact of any weaknesses. The end result is an employee who feels as if he or she is vital to the team, and will seek to perform at the highest standard possible.
Actively seeking opinions and ideas from employees will also go a long way in the process of employee empowerment. This is in contrast to more passive methods, such as hanging a suggestion box by a time clock. With an active approach, managers and owners actually engage employees in conversations about various issues facing the company and listen to what employees have to say. This exchange of ideas can often go a long way toward clearing up any misconceptions of the part of all participants in the conversation and allow the group to move forward with a sense of unity that may not have been possible otherwise.
Employee empowerment also involves attempting to discern what is not being said, even as care is taken to understand what employees are choosing to articulate. It is important to remember that employees may in the past have felt their opinions were of no consequence and therefore might be reticent to share everything they are thinking. Ask clarifying questions that help to draw out employees while making it clear that you really do want to know what they are thinking. The worst that can happen is that some negative perception is brought to the fore, allowing employer and employee to work through the situation and move on to other vital matters.
Recognition is not only important to employee retention, but also to the overall process of employee empowerment. Making sure employees are properly credited for their roles in saving the company money, coming up with an idea that increases productivity, or some quick thinking that prevents the loss of a customer should always be recognized and appreciated. Employees who are both encouraged to be creative and recognized when that creativity bears fruit are more likely to not only feel loyalty to the company but also be more proactive in coming up with other ideas that move the business forward.
Promoting employee empowerment in the workplace is possible in any size business operation. Whether the company operates with only a few people or involves thousands of employees all over the world, there are ways to encourage and motivate people and generally ensure that each member of the work force feels like a valued part of the whole. While this type of employee relations strategy does take time and effort, the benefits over the long term can be significant.