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Learn how to empower employees with five key steps. Organizations thrive when employees have the resources, motivation, and confidence to make decisions, complete even the most difficult tasks, and innovate along the way. This is what employee empowerment is all about. Empowered team members know their companies will support them as they tackle project after project, enabling them to consistently achieve success and grow as they take on new responsibilities.
Of course, a widespread sense of employee empowerment requires careful nurturing by HR professionals and other people leaders. Here are five effective ways any company can start empowering employees and reap the rewards.
1. Foster an environment of trust and psychological safety
Few things are more disempowering for an employee like a lack of trust in their organization and its management. If you don’t believe your company’s promises to give you all the support you need, you’re not likely to seek out new challenges. And if you don’t trust leaders to actually implement any ideas you have, why would you even bother providing suggestions for improving the company in the first place?
Organizations build trust and empower employees when leaders consistently align words with actions. Companies should also give employees input on key organizational and team decisions, while supporting them whenever they encounter difficulties on the job or want to take on new responsibilities. This means providing both the resources and training needed to get the job done and develop professionally.
Trust in the workplace is also closely linked to a feeling of psychological safety. This is a sense of security that comes from knowing leaders and other team members have your back at all times. When organizations encourage psychological safety, employees are more likely to provide honest input and suggest new, innovative ideas, confident that their coworkers will give them a fair shake.
2. Build employee confidence with recognition and incentives
Even the most self-motivated employees can struggle to maintain enough energy to continually problem solve, innovate, and grow over the long haul. That’s why letting them know that your organization truly appreciates their contributions is so important. The new normal has made this more difficult than ever before, with many companies having adopted remote work arrangements.
Regardless of whether your workforce is in-office, fully remote, or somewhere in between, you can enable every team member to recognize each other frequently, from the C-suite on down, with an employee reward and recognition platform. Software that includes organization-wide channels for social recognition — with commenting and image-sharing capabilities — makes it easy and fun for everyone to start showing appreciation. And you can make moments of recognition truly memorable with a platform that lets all employees give out and redeem reward points from a huge, built-in catalog of exciting gifts and experiences.
Of course, there are some benefits and incentives that only the organization itself can provide. These range from big ticket items like health insurance and paid time off to less common offerings, such as in-office mindfulness lessons and tuition reimbursement. Each incentive contributes to your organization’s employee value proposition (EVP) and empowers team members by demonstrating that your organization views them as capable, valuable parts of the enterprise.
3. Offer flexibility in employees’ work arrangements
In the past few years, many employees have discovered how empowering the freedom to work where and when they want can be. They’ve made great strides in personal wellness by structuring their jobs around their lives. In turn, companies have seen how improved employee wellness can play a major role in organizational success.
Empowering employees with additional flexibility at your company doesn’t mean you have to move to a hybrid or remote work arrangement — although offering the possibility, at least to some of your workforce, has some major benefits. Instead, implement organizational policies that provide a level of choice to workers, within reason, as to where and when they work. For instance, coming into the office an hour later might not make a difference to performance while enabling a team member to attend to personal responsibilities. Offering additional paid time off — and encouraging employees to take advantage of the time they do have — is another great way to improve work-life balance and fight employee burnout.
4. Ask for employee feedback – and act on it
Seeing your organization tangibly address feedback you provide in a timely manner is an incredibly empowering experience. But companies that fail to act on feedback can expect employees to become gradually more disengaged and frustrated. A disregard for employee input sends a clear message that they aren’t valued and can’t make a real difference.
Managers and other leaders should seek feedback from employees in both individual and group settings. However, there will be times employees have thoughts to share when no one is available. And there will be things employees don’t feel comfortable discussing in person, even with the most supportive manager.
That’s why organizations should provide opportunities for team members to share feedback anonymously, like targeted, easy-to-answer pulse surveys and AI-powered HR chatbots. Look for an employee engagement solution that offers these features together with the ability to quickly analyze feedback. It should also guide people leaders from insight to action with tools that help them develop ways to address input collaboratively with their teams, so everyone has a say when choosing the path forward.
5. Support professional growth with coaching and delegation
Employee empowerment relies on leaders who understand that great management involves building employees up, not tearing them down. Undercutting employees with frequent micromanagement and negative feedback leads to a pervasive sense of disempowerment, not to mention issues with employee retention. After all, how can employees take ownership of their work and achieve new levels of success when their managers short circuit any thoughts of real autonomy?
Leaders should instead strive to act as coaches, focusing on how to empower employees to achieve their goals. Centering discussions on concrete objectives makes it much easier to build action plans and depersonalizes the steps needed to get from A to B. This supportive approach encourages employees to reflect on what they want to accomplish and develop the required skills, turning to their manager whenever they need a helping hand.
Managers shouldn’t be afraid to delegate additional responsibilities to employees, either. Find out what team members are really interested in, give them some responsibilities to match, and provide them with the training, resources, and encouragement they need to handle them successfully. Delegation fosters a sense of trust and makes employees more eager to seek out new challenges, instead of falling into an unproductive rut.
How to empower your employees with the right employee experience platform
Employee empowerment is a long-term project for people leaders and HR professionals at any company, but they don’t have to go it alone. Adopting software that supports key empowerment strategies — like recognition, feedback, and trust-building — paves the way to a more productive, collaborative, and confident workforce.
The Achievers Employee Experience Platform connects employees across your organization with science-backed, easy-to-use recognition, reward, and listening features. It includes Achievers Recognize, a solution dedicated to empowering employees through high-frequency, high-impact recognition and a deep catalog filled with exciting rewards. And with Achievers Listen, your company will always have a window into real-time changes in employee engagement, together with the tools needed to address any problem areas highlighted by employee feedback.
Try a free demo today and see how to empower employees with Achievers.