When human resource professionals define employee empowerment, they refer to giving employees autonomy and decision making abilities over certain parts of their day-to-day work. For example, a trainer may want to be able to adjust training to fit the learning styles of the participants they are instructing. In some organizations, the training may not allow for this type of flexibility. Employee empowerment means an individual is held responsible (and feels accountable) for a whole task. Empowered employees become process owners and do not require supervisor approval to make decisions about tasks within their responsibilities. Empowered employees are more productive, give better customer service, and are better ambassadors of the organization.
When an employee is allowed to solve problems and make decisions about their job without supervisor approval, they can get work done faster. In addition to getting work done more quickly, employees that are empowered are also more likely to feel accountable for their assigned task. They will typically hold themselves to a higher standard because they think that their supervisor and organization trust them to make the right decision. Employees who feel empowered are also more likely to challenge the status quo, which is beneficial to organizations that are trying to become more efficient. Allowing employees to share their experiences about gaps in policies and procedures validates their feelings and also enables the organization to improve their practices.
Better Customer Service
Everyone has had an issue with a product or service and been forced to call a customer service number. Most experiences with customer service require following telephone prompts, explaining the problem to a rep, only to be transferred to someone else to start the explanation over again. If the problem is very complicated, the rep will have to call you back after speaking to a supervisor. It could take hours or days before you have a solution. The best experience would be to have your problem solved with one phone call. Empowering employees to make decisions that resolve customer’s issues could avoid frustrated customers and overworked employees.
Ambassadors of the Organization
Employees that are well-trained and well-supported are more likely to feel loyal to their employers than those who are not. When an opportunity arises to promote the organization, an empowered employee will be more likely to do so because they feel valued. Employee ambassadors are an essential asset to any organization. Just like a person may ask a recommendation for a product or service, people searching for a job will ask others what they think of their workplace. Employees that feel positively about where they will be more likely to speak highly of an organization. A positive environment attracts highly qualified employees.
How to Cultivate Employee Empowerment
Cultivating employee empowerment begins by asking employees for suggestions about practices and policies. When an organization is built on top-down communication, employees may feel that it is difficult to have their voices heard. Give employees the chance to give feedback and suggestions about organizational practices. Every idea should be acknowledged, and employees should be rewarded for valuable input that helps the organization progress.
Organizations should encourage self-improvement. When employees gain new skills, they often share those skills with the organization. Allowing employees to share what they have learned creates a collaborative environment. It also gives supervisors an idea of the skillsets their employees possess. This could then be leveraged to empower employees to use their strengths.
One of the easiest ways to have employees improve their skills is to offer professional development programs. This can be done through online training programs. Habit-forming training positively impacts productivity.
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