Employees who feel empowered are more likely to complete their tasks, share ideas, and support one another. However, empowered performances don't happen overnight. Instead, leadership must develop a positive culture with clear communication, feedback, and open-mindedness to give employees the atmosphere they need.
Empowerment in the workplace looks different in 2024, especially with remote and hybrid arrangements. Because of this, employers must understand the current benefits, strategies, and levels of employee empowerment before implementing new practices.
How to Improve Employee Empowerment in the Workplace
Empowerment often encourages employees to be more productive and engaged in their work — but what does this mean for different employees? From a human resources perspective, employee empowerment describes each person's level of independence in your organization. This comprises their abilities, trust, and necessary tools when completing tasks.
Empowerment looks different across every organization moving into 2024, especially amid industry changes and shifting hybrid models, so your best strategy for boosting team empowerment begins with examining each employee's strengths and needs. For example, what's keeping employees from working independently — a lack of resources, motivation, or something else entirely? This process will help you customize creative solutions for each person's professional development.
How Does an Empowered Employee Make a Difference?
Empowerment in the workplace can lead to stronger job performance at all levels of your company. Find out how empowered leaders and employees can uniquely benefit your organization.
The Contribution of an Empowered Leadership Team
The best leadership styles vary by person, team, and industry. However, most employers and managers must have viable adaptability, communication, and problem-solving skills to succeed in today's shifting market.
According to a study of "blue-collar" employees, empowered leaders may benefit individual job performance more than team performance. However, the impact of an empowerment style of management may vary across different work settings. For example, a hands-on hybrid supervisor may inspire greater teamwork overall than a remote manager who can communicate only virtually.
Engaging and empowering leadership teams can benefit employees in the following ways:
- Boosting innovation and creativity
- Providing motivation
- Encouraging team learning
- Supporting communication and professional behavior
- Improving the impact of feedback
The Commitment of an Empowered Workforce
Employees are the backbone of a business, so their motivation and engagement determine your organization's overall productivity. Employee engagement is especially vital in out-of-office settings.
A study conducted with hotel employees revealed that a sense of empowerment positively impacts job satisfaction and team commitment. The benefits of employee empowerment also include:
- Expanding the company culture
- Boosting productivity
- Improving collaboration and teamwork
- Providing better experiences for clients and customers
- Learning new skills and procedures
- Sharing skills and knowledge
- Contributing ideas and constructive feedback
7 Tips to Start Empowering Your Entire Organization
Empowerment in the workplace looks different for every in-person, hybrid, and remote organization — though many skills and practices are universal. Explore the following empowerment strategies to reach all organizational levels, from senior leadership to new hires.
1. Establish Clear Goals and Responsibilities
Communication is more important than ever in the modern workplace, especially for remote and hybrid teams. Effective communication extends to your staff's workload, including their goals, expectations, and professional opportunities.
Designate a fixed communication channel for delegating responsibilities or discussing tasks. This open communication empowers employees to create their own schedules around their workflow. By knowing what's ahead, employees can more effectively prepare for their daily tasks and balance their personal lives.
Consider employees' perspectives and feedback as you establish organizational goals and responsibilities. Skilled and motivated employees know their best workflows and environments better than anyone else, so including your team when setting goals may improve self-confidence, collaboration, and long-term performance. It also helps guarantee that everyone is on the same page, so no responsibilities are missed.
2. Train Your Workforce and Foster Its Development
The past few years have seen countless changes in every industry with new rules, procedures, and technology. Unfortunately, some of these transitions occurred too quickly for many employees to really learn the ropes. This means some team members may make mistakes or misrepresent your business without even realizing it.
Training and other educational resources can improve your team's confidence and accountability. Specific workplace training for new software and processes can clearly establish expectations so employees have everything they need to start working. Meanwhile, regular training sessions on general skills make employees more adaptable and prepared for future industry changes.
Outside of hard skills, such as how to use a particular piece of equipment, you should help employees develop their soft skills. Most of this training is universally applicable, so it will boost employees' performance even as industry procedures shift.
Consider the following soft skills for better empowerment in the workplace:
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Adaptability and flexibility
- Time management
- Conflict resolution
3. Gather Constructive Feedback and Encourage Participation
Honest feedback and constructive criticism are essential to a healthy and empowered workforce. At a base level, talking to your staff is one of the easiest ways to identify immediate issues and concerns. Beyond that, employees will likely feel heard and included if they see leadership consider their ideas.
Communication and inclusion play significant roles in the feedback process, letting everyone on the team share their thoughts without judgment or retaliation. However, even with comprehensive communication, some employees may not feel comfortable offering criticism without being prompted, so it's often up to leadership to get the ball rolling.
Consider the following strategies for initiating feedback from employees:
- Digital surveys
- Anonymous feedback forms
- Team meetings
- One-on-one discussions
- Skip-level meetings
4. Create a Supportive and Empowering Environment
Empowerment in the workplace relies heavily on your workplace culture and support systems. Your company's culture comprises your teams' values, motives, ethics, and mutual respect.
Coworkers who get along and function well together are more productive on team projects and often willing to share skills and tips. Beyond that, they'll be more likely to identify one another's emotional needs, such as when someone needs support or space.
Employers can help employees develop a stronger culture by encouraging group activities and discussions. Unfortunately, this gets complicated in remote and hybrid settings, where employees may never meet face-to-face. Many leaders have used virtual break rooms, team-building tasks, and in-person events to bridge this gap.
5. Recognize Your Employees' Hard Work and Dedication
Recognition and appreciation naturally play a massive role in people's self-confidence and self-worth. As a leader, you're responsible for recognizing your employees' contributions and achievements.
One of the most popular ways to acknowledge employees' dedication is through the "sandwich" feedback approach. This strategy asks employers to cite a positive, a negative, and another positive when sharing constructive feedback. While this can be a beneficial practice, it should not be the extent of your employee recognition — otherwise, employees may associate your compliments only with complaints.
Fortunately, there are many ways to share your appreciation for your employees and get them to recognize one another as well. These empowerment strategies include:
- Recognition boards
- Gifts and thank-you notes
- Paid time off (PTO) and scheduling flexibility
- One-on-one meetings
- Employee of the Month programs
- Group celebrations
6. Banish the Fear of Mistakes and Encourage Experimentation
At its core, a mistake is an opportunity to learn and try again. Unfortunately, the modern workforce often puts too much stress and importance on perfection. As a result, employees may not fully apply themselves out of fear of failure or judgment from their colleagues. This is just another way that your company culture impacts empowerment in the workplace.
Establishing an open-minded, judgment-free culture encourages employees to take on tasks and share their ideas — including the ones they just thought of. Much of this culture of empowerment relies on how leadership responds to stress and errors.
7. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements to Your Employees
Hybrid and remote schedules are now permanent fixtures in many organizations, and for a good reason — hybrid models improve employee retention and recruitment. Giving employees days to work from home or on their own schedule gives them a stronger sense of ownership of their work.
Hybrid schedules often look different for each organization and industry. For instance, an employee who meets weekly with clients usually must determine their in-person days around their clients' schedules. On the other hand, a department with no physical in-person responsibilities may need a few office days only for meetings and team-building activities.
Give Your Empowered Team the Tools It Needs to Succeed
As discussed, communication and organization are essential for empowerment in the workplace. Even the most confident employee won't feel empowered if they don't have the resources to do their job.
Hybrid workflow platforms such as Scoop can significantly improve your team's empowerment and productivity by consolidating schedules, communication, and more. As a result, you can keep your entire team on the same page and guarantee an easy communication channel to help employees adjust.
Get Scoop for hybrid work today to learn more.