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8 Powerful Examples of Employee Empowerment at Work

8 Powerful Examples of Employee Empowerment at Work

Empowering your employees is something that is often discussed in the business world. You can achieve countless benefits when your workers are empowered– everything from increased productivity and morale to happier customers and an improved reputation can result.

While this is all well and good, these types of concepts are often discussed in somewhat vague and abstract terms. That's why, in today's article, we're going to look at some key strategies you can use to increase employee empowerment at your company while also discussing examples of companies that have successfully utilized these methods.

Having empowered employees isn't something that happens by accident. It occurs by employing a deliberate management philosophy intentionally. Let's explore how you can boost job satisfaction, brand commitment, performance, and more by empowering your employees.

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What Is Employee Empowerment?

Employee empowerment is how a company or organization provides a certain amount of control and autonomy within each employee's daily tasks and activities. That can mean helping create and manage new systems, having a say in improving processes or enjoying less oversight from management.

Employee Empowerment

A vital aspect of employee empowerment is that employees can make decisions independently in a way that benefits the organization. When employees are empowered, it can help create a better quality of work and life for workers while also boosting productivity.

Examples of Employee Empowerment at Work

When you have empowered employees, the entire company benefits.

A Team of Empowered Employees

With more wiggle room to make decisions, voice their concerns, and lead initiatives and projects independently, you can increase productivity, boost creativity, create more motivated employees, and more.

1. Involving Employees in Decision Making

Perhaps the most obvious example of employee empowerment in the workplace is making sure your employees have a voice in some of the vital decisions that could impact their experience at work.

One survey found that nearly three-quarters of managers believed the decision-making process could be improved by incorporating employee input. When employees feel that they have the power to make changes and exert some control over their work environment, they tend to experience higher job satisfaction and be more engaged at work.

Involving Employees in Decision Making

Making sure your employees feel they have a voice in decisions can help give them an increased sense of ownership within the corporation. It can help jump the gap from simply working for a paycheck to feeling motivated to participate in something larger than themselves. Feeling that one is actively helping to create something they believe in has been linked to a higher sense of workplace morale.

Numerous classic examples can be used to illustrate the importance of involving employees in the decision-making process. Google, for example, is well-known for its collaborative culture. Employees can voice their concerns directly and ask questions to the leadership team, for instance, and can also use Google Moderator to submit and vote on questions they have for Google execs.

2. Focusing on Recognition and Rewards

Investing in employee appreciation programs is another example of engaging in employee empowerment in the workplace. Managers can help to empower their direct reports through these types of programs, as they have a system through which they can recognize hard work and acknowledge all of the effort employees put toward a project or task.

Employee performance can be significantly positively impacted through well-designed recognition and reward programs. Without a sense of being appreciated for their hard work, even the most internally motivated employees will start to wonder what the point is. When employees feel that no one notices or cares when they put their all into their work, their motivation and morale will suffer.

Recognizing and Rewarding an Employee

An example of this can be found in the culture of Salesforce. Their Salesforce Ohana program contains many different initiatives, including their famous V2MOM strategic planning and goal-setting framework. Through their collection of programs, they clearly recognize the importance of showing appreciation for the hard work of their employees.

3. Offering Flexible Hours and Hybrid Work Schedules

Flexibility can go a long way when it comes to empowering employees. "Flexible scheduling" has become something of a buzzword in the business world recently, but it can ultimately take many different forms. While it might not mean that your employees have complete autonomy when designing their schedule, flexible scheduling inherently means that employees don't have to be chained to their desks for the typical 9-5 Monday through Friday work day.

On the other hand, hybrid work schedules allow employees to work from home for some portion of their schedule. While not all work can be done from home, and many organizations aren't thrilled by the idea of an entirely remote workforce, offering a hybrid work schedule lets employees skip the commute for some portion of the week or month.

An Employee Working From Home

Giving employees more flexibility in when and where they work can be a powerful tool of empowerment. When you allow them to have more say in their schedule and their working environment, it helps to show that you respect and trust them. That can be incredibly meaningful to employees and, in turn, result in higher productivity and morale.

A growing list of companies offer employees flexible hours or hybrid work schedules. These include American Express, Dell, Zapier, Upwork, and UnitedHealth Group.

4. Incorporating Feedback as a Central Part of the Culture

One way to encourage open communication and trust in your organization is by ensuring that giving and receiving feedback is a core part of the company culture. Giving employees a voice in major decisions is a great thing, but it's also essential to provide them with the opportunity to share their opinions, concerns, and questions in a more ongoing manner.

On top of that, though, regularly providing feedback to your employees can also be very empowering. No one wants to feel like they are going through their career unnoticed.

Companies can do many different things to help nurture a culture of feedback. For example, some create open chat rooms where employees can constructively discuss team performance and other topics. Others might use an app or a piece of software that's specifically dedicated to encouraging feedback within teams and organizations.

Employees Providing Feedback to Leadership

Employees tend to be much more engaged and satisfied when they are frequently asked to give and offer feedback. That can also boost employee retention, as employees are more committed to the organization and less likely to be shopping around for other jobs.

One prime example of making feedback a central part of the culture can be found in the Minneapolis-based food producer and distributor Cargill. Creating an Everyday Performance Management system, they were able to incorporate feedback, motivation, and encouragement strategically into the day-to-day operations of their company.

Are you wondering how to create more enthusiastic, committed, and involved employees in your workplace? Check out our guide to improving employee engagement.

5. Giving People Room to Make Mistakes and Learn

In any organization, it's easy to get so fixated on particular goals that the notion of making a mistake or experiencing failure is automatically seen as a bad thing. Companies can become so strict in their systems that employees feel they don't have any leeway or space to contribute creative ideas.

The truth is, though, that risk is an essential part of growth and success. When employees are empowered with increased control and autonomy, the organization accepts that things won't always work out for the best. However, companies that allow their employees to take risks also tend to understand that offering the opportunity to learn from one's mistakes can be one of the most powerful growth experiences.

An Employee Learning From Their Mistakes

Giving employees more autonomy doesn't just mean more mistakes will be made or more setbacks will be experienced. It also implies that employees will be much more likely to develop innovative solutions and creative ideas that could only be achieved through their increased autonomy.

Many of our day's most innovative tech companies pride themselves on giving employees room to fail. Some of these include Google and Intuit.

6. Providing Management Training

While there are many things you can do to help empower your employees, perhaps one of the most valuable assets any team can have is an empowering leader. Your management team must understand how beneficial it is for employees to feel empowered for the entire organization. If they don't share the same vision as you have regarding employee empowerment, it can mean that they are, perhaps innocently, undermining your efforts to help your employees feel they have a voice and an impact within the company.

Providing Management Training

CEOs and managers alike must understand how important it is to create a sense of empowerment among workers to turn this concept into a reality. By investing in training for your management team and other leaders, you can help educate them regarding the vast benefits of having a team of empowered individuals working towards your shared goals.

7. Prioritizing Communication

No matter how large or small your business is, prioritizing communication can significantly impact employee empowerment. The more effective channels you create for workers to communicate with their managers, the better. That doesn't just mean the obvious venues such as face-to-face meetings or email, but also through video conferencing, instant messaging, and other types of digital communication.

When companies stay stuck in the dark ages when it comes to communication, it makes it very difficult for employees to be fully engaged. On the other hand, utilizing modern collaboration tools can make it so that both managers and employees have the ability to engage at a deeper level.

Open Communication in the Workplace

Trust is vital when it comes to having an empowered workforce. One of the primary ways you can create this trust is through open communication. Everyone needs to feel like they have the opportunity to speak their mind and have their voice heard without feeling like they have to stick to formal, traditional methods of communication.

8. Offering Development Opportunities

Finally, another powerful example of employee empowerment is providing development opportunities for your workers. This is just as relevant for in-office employees as it is for remote workers, but the latter can be particularly beneficial as it can help reduce the isolation that often accompanies working from home.

If you're interested in truly unlocking the full potential of your workforce, you'll want to consider empowering them through the implementation of development programs. Don't just think this is another HR talking point, either– one study found that there was a 218% increase in revenue per employee in companies that had comprehensive employee development programs compared to those that did not have these programs.

Employees Participating in a Development Program

Development opportunities are known to help boost employee engagement, which is another powerful element of successful companies. According to a poll from Gallup, organizations that employ engaged workers outperformed their primary competitors by nearly 150% when measured by earnings per share.

An example of a company known for providing excellent development opportunities is Adobe. The Executive Vice President of Customer and Employee Experience at Adobe stated that offering employees the awareness that there is "a path for growth and career progression" is extremely important. They will even help to grow the skills and experience of workers before they even join the workforce, visiting college campuses and organizations to recruit for their substantial internship program.

Empowering Your Employees By Helping Them Improve Their Skills

While you can use many strategies to empower your employees, one essential component of an empowered workforce is investing in their training and development as workers and individuals. When your workers know that you care about their ability to grow and progress through their careers, it helps to create a sense of loyalty and commitment. Beyond that, by acquiring new skills and knowledge, they can feel more confident in their ability to act and work autonomously.

Empowered and Committed Employees

Are you ready to help your employees feel empowered within your organization? Take a look at our Reproducible Training Library, which you can use to improve your entire team's soft skills using our ninety customizable training courses.

Do you have any questions about employee empowerment, the examples of employee empowerment we listed, or anything else we discussed in this article? If so, be sure to let us know in the comments section down below, and we'll get back to you within a day or two! We pride ourselves on replying to every comment we receive, and we're always more than happy to assist you however we can.

Recommended Training
Reproducible Training Library
  • Downloadable & customizable
  • Both virtual and classroom classes
  • 90 half-day courses
Learn more
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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.