Employee empowerment is an extremely impactful (yet often underutilized) motivation tactic. When used properly, your empowerment strategy can increase business profitability, revive company culture and improve satisfaction – both internally and externally.
In fact, one study found that organizations leveraging employee empowerment receive 50% higher degrees of customer loyalty. However, so many businesses are focused on empowering their customer, that they forget about empowering their employees.
Fundamentally, employee empowerment works by giving team members the authority and freedom needed to adapt instantly to situations, responding with better services and experiences for your customers. It requires open communication and contextual understanding from the top down, in turn enabling employees to make crucial decisions on the spot. By empowering employees, businesses give their team:
- Resources they need to get the job done – from tools to fundamental knowledge
- Procedures that employees know represent best practices for serving customers
- Authority to go the extra mile for their company
Empowering employees can seem risky, but in a world that puts experience above all else, bridging the gap between employee knowledge and customer satisfaction is paramount for success.
Why Do You Need Employee Empowerment?
Research from Pepperdine University tracked down 40 of the most empowered companies and compared their performance financially across about a dozen categories to the averages in their space. The results found that empowerment could clearly be correlated with financial success.
But what exactly is employee empowerment? At a basic level, empowerment in the workplace is a philosophy and strategy that businesses use to entrust their employees with the power they need to make decisions and behave according to their understanding of business goals. It gives employees a sense of pride and ownership over their work, allowing you to make significant in a more engaging and happy company culture. By providing employees with the freedom to make their own decisions for your brand, you promote innovation, creativity and overall satisfaction.
So, what should employee empowerment look like in your organization?
1. Foster a Social Workforce
Employee empowerment begins with giving your staff access to the resources they need to become more productive and efficient. Today, we’re constantly browsing social media pages at work and checking emails at home, creating an undeniable connection between our work and personal lives. However, these blurred lines don’t have to be a negative thing for business.
Though some organizations fear giving their employees social media access during work hours, the truth is that embracing the social world is often very beneficial to companies. Not only can social accounts give your employees a new way of interfacing with potential customers, but it also ensures that they’re ready to advocate on the behalf of your brand in a positive light. It’s easier than ever for employees to share branded content with their social networks, and it’s important for employers to take advantage of that.
Download our latest White Paper created in collaboration with Aberdeen Group to learn how organizations with employee advocacy programs can experience a 26% increase in YoY revenue.
2. Consult Employees
Empowering employees also means endowing them with a sense of authority and trust that can promote greater pride in their workplace. Workers who feel pride in their brand are often more satisfied and engaged at work. In other words, something as simple as empowerment can lead to less turnover, greater productivity and enhanced efficiency.
If you’re wondering how to empower employees, the first place to start is open and frequent conversation. Ask your employees to consult on the projects they’re involved with and seek out their opinions. Help your staff feel as though they have a real impact on the projects they manage – the benefits will far outweigh your efforts.
3. Establish Guidelines
Employee empowerment doesn’t mean you have to give employees complete freedom and free reign over the company.
Start your empowerment strategy by making sure everyone is on the same page regarding the goals of the business and provide a loose framework around what your staff can do. For instance, you should trust employees to make decisions on-the-spot for your customers. This might mean allowing employees to decide whether they should refund a customer or solve an issue that might lead to negative feedback for your brand. However, it’s important to watch over this behavior to make sure your employees are advocating for the best interests of the customer and your company.
4. Create Flexible Team Structures
Engagement is an element felt strongly among employees and the customers you serve, and achieving this often hinges on collaboration. When you encourage this kind of internal culture, your most innovative employees will begin to connect with one another and inspire new ideas and solutions. Collaboration can be improved through workplace tools, social resources and even business intranets.
You could allow your employees to create their own teams for specific projects, choosing the best skillsets for specific challenges. Some businesses will even benefit from using their current team to find and recruit new talent for your team.
5. Encourage Open Communication
Many of today’s businesses are built using top-down communication structures. While this might feel natural to executives, employees in such environments often feel that they have little power in their ability to make a real impact on the business at-large. While leaders might have more experience, it’s important for them to avoid invalidating feedback from the people on the front lines.
All businesses should give employees a structured solution for making their observations and thoughts known. Additionally, it’s crucial for companies seeking employee empowerment to let their staff know that they appreciate and value their ideas. Provide rewards, offer feedback, acknowledge staff input – and you’ll start to see communication and engagement levels grow.
6. Inspire Employee Growth & Development
Empowered employees often feel that they have plenty of room to grow. Numerous leaders complain about demotivated employees, but do nothing to inspire them in their careers. Simply telling employees that you want them to reach their career goals can make them feel like they’re part of a stronger team.
Help your employees establish a plan for their growth and offer rewards as they advance. This will not only engage employees and reduce your risk of turnover, but it will allow staff to apply newly-acquired skills to their roles in your company. What’s more, it gives employees the feeling that they’re in control of their own professional future.
7. Provide a Level of Freedom
Finally, one of the simplest ways to gain loyalty from your staff and ensure employee empowerment is to show your team that you trust them. Clarify the results you’re hoping to achieve, and allow your workers to approach projects from their own angle.
According to a survey conducted by Harvard, the power of choice in the workplace improves employee satisfaction, drives motivation and allows for better performance. Empowering your employees means giving them the opportunity to show their skills and add their own personal flair to project management.
Empowering Employees for a Brighter Future
Regardless of how subtle or significant your initiatives for employee empowerment might be, they’re crucial to creating a more rewarding experience for customers and staff alike. By learning how to empower employees, you give your team the resources they need to deliver a better customer experience for your brand and streamline the path towards achieving your business goals.
Aria is the Demand Generation Specialist for Bambu by Sprout Social. With a background in Content Marketing & SEO, she has an affinity for all things inbound. When taking a break from generating many, many leads, you can find Aria at a concert, cheering on the Cards (#STL4Life) or wandering around her beloved Chicago neighborhood, Wicker Park.
7 Fundamental Components Required in Your Employee Empowerment Strategy
Written by Aria Solar on August 07, 2017