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Published: Jun 12, 2023 15 min read

*Content includes branded mentions of our sponsor ZipRecruiter.

Empowering employees encourages them to grow, succeed and strive in their jobs, resulting in high-quality work and growth within your company. If your employees lack motivation and confidence, you'll see it in their work, and it could be a sign that you need to make some changes.

Thinking about the type of company culture you want isn’t something to only consider after the fact. Even if you’re still in the recruitment phase, consider adding language around empowerment in your job descriptions to engage the type of worker you’re looking to hire. When you use a site like ZipRecruiter, you want to stand out to its +3million job seekers.

Read on to learn what employee empowerment is, how to create this environment in your workplace and why it's vital for every successful company.

What is employee empowerment?

Understanding what employee empowerment means is the first key to incorporating it into your workplace. Simply put, employee empowerment is giving your employees what they need to succeed. It includes:

  • Letting them make decisions with their roles and duties
  • Giving them a voice to offer suggestions, ideas and options
  • Providing new assignments and opportunities to foster their growth
  • Rewarding and recognizing their goals, qualities and efforts
  • Offering an encouraging work environment
  • Providing the equipment, resources and tools they need to complete their jobs

You can find the best employees on ZipRecruiter. But they will only succeed to their full potential if you empower them.

Why is employee empowerment important?

Only 32% of employees feel engaged in their jobs, leaving 68% feeling disengaged, according to a Gallup poll from January 2023. Employee disengagement leads to more call-offs and lower productivity, so employers will benefit from understanding this statistic and why it happens.

Employees who feel burned out generally feel this way from a lack of employee empowerment. Many feel unappreciated, underpaid and overworked. Employee burnout also occurs when folks feel they have no say in decisions or when their managers micromanage. A business faces challenges with profitability and growth when its employees aren't working up to their full potential.

As a manager, you can learn how to spot employee burnout. Additionally, you must learn the importance of employee empowerment.

Empowering your employees:

  • Boosts confidence
  • Improves employee morale
  • Increases productivity
  • Reduces employee burnout

Successful companies address this issue and look for ways to empower employees.

7 effective ways to empower employees

You can empower your employees through intention, effort and concrete strategies, including:

1. Give your employees flexibility in how they complete tasks

Micromanaging occurs when you watch every move your employees make, criticizing or suggesting ways to do things differently. This tactic doesn't give employees the freedom they need to think alone or come up with ideas themselves. It also doesn't motivate or encourage them to strive harder. To empower them, start by setting clear expectations and goals. Then, give them the freedom to complete their jobs however they prefer. If they can produce high-quality work through a different method, let them. If they succeed, offer them new responsibilities and extra assignments, and let them fly.

2. Improve management leadership skills

Managers fail when they aim to force employees to work harder and complete tasks a certain way. Forcing employees to do their jobs leads to higher levels of burnout, whereas encouragement improves morale and productivity. Managers succeed when they learn how to promote employee growth and take the necessary steps to encourage and motivate.

Employers and managers can promote a positive work environment through helpful leadership skills. For example, give your employees guidance and encouragement without making them feel controlled. Next, cultivate an environment of open communication. This allows your employees to provide feedback, ideas and opinions without the fear of rejection or retaliation. Finally, delegate new duties and tasks that will allow them to develop new skills. Spend time learning how to become a better manager and implement what you learn. Your employees will see your actions and methods and learn from them.

3. Support their professional growth and career goals

You can encourage your employees by providing opportunities for them to grow in their current positions. For example, offer free instruction or employer-sponsored educational programs. Many employees will jump on these opportunities because they offer knowledge and a chance to learn new skills. Additionally, provide a clear path for advancement within your organization. Employees feel a boost of confidence when they receive promotions and advancements, even if the jobs come with more responsibilities.

4. Encourage them to provide honest feedback

This is the ticket to learning how to empower your employees. When employees can't talk to their managers about their feelings and thoughts, it diminishes their power, so encourage open dialogue with your employees. The ability to express their thoughts, concerns and issues relieves the pressure that often leads to burnout. In short, employees that feel heard face less burnout.

In addition, you must develop the ability to listen to what your employees say without arguing or demeaning their words and thoughts. Make them feel like you care and take what they say seriously. Be a manager who is approachable by offering an open-door policy. Encourage them to tell you what they think and feel.

5. Foster a supportive and enriching company culture

Employee empowerment requires a culture and environment where employees feel free and encouraged to take charge of their jobs. You can learn how to foster adequate work ethic through example in order to create an environment that allows your employees to thrive and actually enjoy coming to work. They need to feel valued and appreciated for their uniqueness, effort and individual creativity.

You can enrich your company culture by:

  • Communicating your company values, goals and objectives to help them feel part of a bigger picture
  • Acknowledging employees for hard work and progress
  • Encouraging strong relationships by providing team-building events
  • Giving employees flexibility with their schedules
  • Avoiding micromanaging
  • Setting a positive attitude from the top down

An enriching culture makes your company's workplace a place your employees enjoy coming to.

6. Improve your employee recognition

Learning how to express gratitude towards employees is huge, and employers can show their gratitude in many ways. Some ideas include:

  • An employee-of-the-month program to honor someone for their hard work or achievements
  • Personal thanks for a specific task, job or idea an employee initiated. A simple "thank you" can go a long way
  • Rewards program that offers days off, gym memberships, gift cards — you name it
  • Tie work accomplishments to raises or bonuses

7. Build trusting relationships

Trust is one of the most underestimated factors when it comes to employee empowerment. Employee confidence grows when they feel they have a safe place to work. They know what to expect and that their managers will follow through consistently and fairly.

Be intentional about to building trust around your company. For example, use team-building exercises at monthly meetings or plan quarterly outings for your employees. Team-building events help your employees get to know and trust each other.

Handing out new tasks also helps you build trust. It shows that you trust an employee to handle something new. A good employee will take this task seriously by putting in hard work and effort to complete it well.

The benefits of empowering employees

Building employee morale is one of the benefits of employee empowerment, but several other benefits stand out:

Stronger job performance

First, empowered employees perform better. Employee productivity increases as you focus on empowering your employees. Disengaged employees don't enjoy coming to work. They feel used, taken advantage of and unappreciated, and it usually shows in their work. A disengaged employee won't aim to work above and beyond if they feel their efforts will go unnoticed. Conversely, empowered employees who feel appreciated and free to do their jobs will take accountability and strive harder to meet goals. And of course, stronger job performance leads to higher profits.

Increased employee retention

While many employees switch jobs to earn more money, many switch for job culture. Millennials and Gen Zers want jobs that allow more flexibility, opportunities for personal growth and a more positive workplace atmosphere. If you have trouble with your employee retention rates, it might be the result of a negative culture. When you learn how to retain employees by cultivating a positive culture, you'll likely see an equally positive change in your employee loyalty.

Improved customer service

Improving your employee engagement also affects your customers. Customers obviously appreciate positive, helpful answers and assistance when they interact with businesses, and happy employees are far more likely to treat customers well. They want to please the customers because they take pride in their jobs. And improved customer service can lead to increased sales and profits.

Approximately 90% of consumers base their purchasing decisions on customer service reviews. In addition, 72% of consumers will pay higher prices for goods from companies with highly rated customer service qualities. So honing in on improving your customer can lead to increased sales. Furthermore, satisfied customers tell others about their experiences, making great customer service lead to increased word-of-mouth referrals; more customers equal higher sales.

Enhanced employee experience and job satisfaction

One of the top employee empowerment benefits is the positive changes you'll see in your workplace environment. Empowered employees are satisfied employees. Satisfied employees enjoy their jobs, which means you might experience fewer call-offs and higher productivity.

Working to further employee motivation and empowerment works. As you improve this aspect of your company, you might see growth in your business. This growth might lead to adding new job positions. Advertising these new positions on ZipRecruiter offers a way to find high-quality workers. After all, people are always looking up "full-time jobs near me" to find potential positions.

How to measure employee empowerment

As you can see from the benefits, learning how to solve workplace morale problems can change your company's future. However, measuring employee empowerment is also vital so you know if you're truly improving.

You can do this by conducting surveys — ideally with anonymous responses. For example, create a survey for your employees asking about their feelings around your company's culture, communication and employee satisfaction.

Next, use quantitative data to measure improvements. For example, set goals for increasing employee retention. Employee retention tells you the percentage of employees who stay with your company for a stated period of time (typically one year). Most companies measure this annually and prefer a rate of 90%. Suppose your rate is currently at 70%. You can measure it after one year to see if it increased. If so, you can attribute this to an improvement in employee empowerment and workplace culture.

You can also track your company call-offs to measure growth. To do this, you must calculate your employee absenteeism rate by dividing the number of missed days by the number of work days. For example, if employees called off five times out of 100 work days, the absenteeism rate is 5%. With the proper employee empowerment measures, you could see a decrease in this rate.

Focus groups can also help you tap into employee experiences. Choose employees at random to participate in these groups and encourage full transparency. Ask them to describe what they like and dislike about the workplace. Encourage them to provide ideas that could improve the culture and atmosphere. Then, use this information to introduce changes that match your employees' desires and ideas.

The more you understand your employees' level of satisfaction, the better you can identify your company's strengths and weaknesses. This helpful information can, in turn, help you make the necessary changes to improve employee morale. Additionally, create a schedule for completing these measurement tools, as doing them regularly provides a way to continuously monitor and improve employee empowerment.

What is the manager's role in employee empowerment?

Managers serve critical roles in every business. Employees look up to their managers for guidance and direction, support and encouragement. In fact, a manager sets the tone for every employee they direct. Managers must understand and appreciate the importance of employee empowerment and must use the correct tools to offer a positive impact.

A manager's attitude and work habits transcend to those working under them. A negative attitude is infectious, but so is a positive one. A manager's role in employee empowerment is powerful and critical. A good manager can learn how to empower employees as a leader, trickling positivity down the line. This results in an improvement in morale, culture and overall workplace satisfaction.

Summary of Money's how to empower employees

Learning how to empower employees is the first step in changing your organization's culture. Companies that work intentionally to empower their employees will improve employee morale and bring growth to the organization. With the right changes, you can improve your company's health by giving your employees what they need to succeed.

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