Any HR leader who wants ideas on how to improve their organization’s culture would most likely do two things i.e look up the successful practices of competitors who are able to retain employees better or analyze the practices of companies like Google, Disney, or Virgin, etc. who have set the benchmark for employee engagement in their respective industries.
If you dig deeper, you’ll find that these companies are the stalwarts of employee engagement today because they go above and beyond to empower their employees.
So what is employee empowerment? And how does it impact employee engagement?
Employee empowerment is all about enabling your employees to be autonomous, giving them the power to make decisions, and guiding them whenever they need help or support.
Based on research published by Forbes, employees who felt a low level of empowerment rated their engagement score at, as low as 24%, whereas those with a high level of empowerment rated their engagement score at 79% in their organization.
But one should not confuse delegation with empowerment as the former often refers to getting work done by an employee by keeping a constant tab on them, while the latter is all about enabling employees to do the task independently without any interference.
A common problem when it comes to empowering employees is that of micromanagement - even after giving responsibility to employees, some leaders don’t give up authority.
Note that that’s not how employee empowerment works.
The approach of micromanaging employees demoralizes them. They end up perceiving a lack of trust from their leader, a big and unavoidable red flag when it comes to employee empowerment.
To avoid micromanagement, a leader can, when handing over a task to an employee, proactively ask themselves, “What’s the worst that could happen if the employee makes a mistake?” This level of perspective should ease the tension for the manager, putting him/her in a better place to empower the employee to deliver the task and guide them, only if necessary.
In short, the confidence that managers show in their employees is what will motivate them to achieve greater things for the organization.
How to empower your employees and how does that improve employee engagement?
The whole purpose of employee empowerment is to free your staff from excessive and unnecessary control and bureaucracy from the leadership and, in turn, enable them to take up responsibilities and show ownership of tasks assigned to them.
A manager needs to create a culture of empowerment where people are taking actions independently without excessive dependencies. But this can only happen when the top leadership team commits to a set of practices that enables employee autonomy.
Here are a few things leaders can implement to empower their employees in their organization:
Demonstrate that employee feedback matters
Conduct employee surveys. Hold one-on-one meetings. Listen to what employees have to say as often as you can. And then, act on it.
As a leader, you must demonstrate that an employee’s voice is being heard by proactively acknowledging their problems and taking action to resolve their issues at a faster rate. When employees feel heard, they feel valued and in turn, will make them feel empowered.
Leaders who recognize the right behavior and traits give employees clarity on what is expected of them, empowering them to behave in a way that is consistent with the organization’s expectations.
Such a leader who appreciates, supports, and most importantly, trusts their employees boost employee engagement and productivity.
Provide opportunities for career development
As a manager, you must instill confidence amongst your workforce that there will be enough growth, learning, and development opportunities for your employees, and you should facilitate it for them.
One should constantly assess the performance, character, and risk-taking ability of their employees to identify their strengths and weaknesses and delegate them with the right tasks.
Ideally, a decentralized team approach would enable employees to take up authority and wider responsibilities, which will make them feel empowered and would act as a catalyst for them to become great leaders in the future.
Impart purpose and build a trust system
To get the best out of people, a manager should not micromanage their employees, as it will signal the lack of trust by the leadership and will further make the employees overly dependent on the leadership team.That is why you need to act as a mentor and often have an open conversation with your employees.
Once you establish a mutually beneficial relationship with your employees, it will enable them to believe in you as a leader who genuinely cares about them, at the same time, will help you as a leader to find out what you can do better to empower your employees and align them to their purpose.
Employee empowerment survey questions
Since investing in the autonomy of your employees is of paramount importance for you to attract and retain top talent in your organization, you need to know what helps your employees feel empowered.
To get a 360-degree view of how you can improve the empowerment of your employees, you need to initiate a genuine two-way conversation with them to assess how your empowerment plan aligns with their needs.
This is where an employee feedback platform like CultureMonkey comes in handy, which lets you send targeted employee surveys to assess the empowerment needs of your employees and lets you act on their feedback at a faster pace.
With that said, here are some of the employee empowerment survey questions that we think you should include in your next employee survey:
- Do you believe that your manager shows genuine interest in your career aspirations?
- Do you have enough freedom and flexibility to do the tasks assigned to you?
- Are the timelines allotted for task completion by your manager manageable?
- Do you have access to learning and development tools to improve your skills at work?
- How would you rate the support from your manager in completing tasks assigned to you? (Rating scale: 1-5)
- Do you believe you have complete control over the job you do?
- Do you feel you have the freedom to be creative while solving problems in your project?
- Do you believe the organization provides you with enough opportunities to grow in your career?
- I have the flexibility to make decisions about things that impact my work.
- Do you have all the tools/resources needed to do your job?