Do you prefer to collaborate with a team that does exactly what you say without question and, potentially, feels disconnected from the workplace, or employees that are happy, confident to share ideas, and eager to make your business grow? You would probably choose the second, right? Now, the question is: how do you reach this goal?
We recommend you try giving more power to your staff. We will cover 8 successful examples of empowerment in the workplace to show you how it can be done. But before that, understanding why fostering autonomy, allowing work flexibility, or encouraging critical thinking is important.
Knowing the theoretical part is great, but practical tips are essential to implement a new approach at work successfully. We will therefore end this article with some useful recommendations to build actions that will truly make a difference for you and your workforce.
Why do we want to talk to you about employee empowerment?
Employee-first companies are the most successful
If there is one thing successful companies have in common, it is an employee-first vision. They understand that focusing on employee experience makes all the difference. People who feel satisfied, happy, and empowered are more engaged, loyal, and efficient.
Organizations such as Patagonia, Spotify, and Starbucks are perfect examples of businesses that value employee empowerment and emerge as models. Yvon Chouinard, CEO of Patagonia, declared: “hire the people you trust, who are passionate about their job, passionate about what they’re doing. Just leave them alone, and they’ll get the job done.” As we are about to discover, trust and autonomy are key for empowering your teams and making them thrive.
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The benefits of employee empowerment can play a significant role in your business development
Another reason why we wanted to share examples of empowerment in the workplace with you is the positive impact an empowered team has on your business. A few weeks ago we studied this topic, here are the main advantages we found:
Workers are more engaged and motivated to do their job.
Flexible work is a core pillar of empowerment in the workplace
At deskbird, we also believe that a people-centric approach is fundamental to making a business thrive and see flexible work as a core pillar to achieving this goal. Every week, we publish new articles about the trends of the future of work, including how to have a more employee-centric strategy. Letting your team members work from anywhere and at any time is a big step toward giving them more power in their professional lives. But hybrid work and flexitime require some adjustments to be able to work. This includes equipping your staff with the right hybrid workplace technology to embrace all the benefits of a more flexible working schedule.
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What are examples of empowerment in the workplace?
1. Empowered employees are involved in decision-making
It can be challenging for workers to feel their abilities are valued and their input is being if their voices are not being heard. They know your market, your products, your customers, and your partners better than anyone. Including them in decision-making not only fosters employee empowerment, but is also necessary for success. Having transparent communication with your team members and making them part of the decision-making process is fundamental to giving them the opportunity to advocate for their ideas.
2. Collaboration is based on autonomy and trust
We’ve already discussed the psychological effects of micromanagement and the difference between micro vs. macro-management. The latter is what empowerment in the workplace is all about, trusting your team members and their abilities. When employees have more control over their work, they are more solution-oriented, and they can share their ideas and skills. Not only does it make their job more meaningful, but it also improves their mental health.
3. Your work model includes hybrid work schedules and flexible hours
Over the last couple of years, many organizations decided to be more flexible with their employees’ schedules. From hybrid work models to flexible hours arrangements and compressed hours systems, workers get more control over their planning and can finally balance their personal and professional lives better. It also means they are empowered to choose where, and sometimes when, they prefer to work. According to the company’s rules, they can manage their timetable the way they want as long as the job or the number of hours required is done.
👉 To know more about the impact of these new ways of working, read our article regarding remote work statistics.
4. Upskilling and reskilling opportunities are accessible to everyone
A shared characteristic of Millennials and Gen Z is the desire to keep acquiring new abilities. Encouraging them to do so by providing them with learning resources is a form of employee empowerment. You empower them to become a better version of themselves and grow as employees and people. There are many ways you can do this. For example, you can offer continuous access to online courses, allocate specific time for your workers to learn, or implement job rotation. Obviously, supporting them to develop their knowledge also benefits you as a company.
5. Giving and receiving feedback is part of the company’s culture
Empowering your workforce also means allowing them to express their opinions. Building a culture that encourages the sharing of positive and constructive feedback helps people improve. Quite often, leaders are required to give feedback to their team members. Yet communication from the other direction also matters. When done in a healthy and respectful manner, letting your workers voice what they like or dislike and how they feel about their working environment can have a huge impact. Feedback is not only essential for a better employee experience but also for improving your business.
Employee empowerment is also about showing appreciation and recognition for your workers. Just simply individually thanking your team members for their work has a massive influence on how they feel. They know you don’t take them for granted and that you value their job. How does it empower them? It makes them more confident about their job, boosts them to perform even better, and motivates them to keep developing their skills. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and goals remain unmet. But it doesn’t mean your employees didn’t put all their effort in. Don’t forget to also be thankful in hard times as well.
7. Encouraging a meaningful working life is one of your main drivers
Another key trait of Gen Z and Millennials is their search for purpose. In both their personal and professional lives, they want their actions to be meaningful. Companies that aspire to empower their workers help them reach this goal by providing support and resources. For example, managers are open to talking with their team members about career evolution and skill-learning opportunities that could support them to find their purpose at work. Another action to put in place is to give employees the chance to work on DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) projects during their working time.
8. Risks and failures are seen as part of the learning and growing process
Success doesn’t happen without failing first. Organizations that give more autonomy and control to employees accept that this could potentially lead to negative results. But by letting your workers take risks and learn from their mistakes, you also increase the chances of people rising to the challenge and innovative ideas blooming. This is exactly why you want to empower your team members in the first place. But one thing is for sure: there is more to win than to lose.
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How can you implement these employee empowerment examples in your workplace?
Analyze the main characteristics and needs of your workforce
Do these employee empowerment examples and benefits make you want to change your management style? That’s great! Yet, it needs to be done correctly, and this requires knowing your workforce very well. Discussing expectations with your employees is fundamental to understanding what makes them thrive at work. If you have a multi-generational workforce, you should consider that they might not all have the same expectations, for instance. Philip, who is 55 years old might enjoy working autonomously. But for Marcus, your new intern, you should find the right balance between giving him a bit of structure at the beginning and letting him learn by making decisions by himself.
Train managers and foster a culture based on employee centricity
Do your leaders have the same vision as you do regarding empowerment in the workplace? Making sure they realize its benefits and purpose is key. A major aspect of worker empowerment is employee centricity. It is essential for CEOs and managers to understand the importance of asking their staff’s opinions instead of assuming they already know what empowers and motivates them. The best way to help your management team foster empowerment is by simply training them about this topic. As we always say, your workforce is your main asset. Therefore, investing in reskilling or upskilling your leaders is a smart investment.
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Adopt the “slowly but surely” approach
There is no rule about how to apply new practices to give more control to your workers. But, if we may suggest, prioritization is important. You want to implement changes that make sense to you and your teams and are sustainable in the long run. To do this, focus on the examples of empowerment in the workplace mentioned above that would have the biggest impact first. For instance, on top of increasing employee happiness, satisfaction, and experience, allowing flexible work is also a strong empowering approach.
We hope these examples of empowerment in the workplace help you have a better understanding of how to make it happen in your company and why. If you choose to embrace more flexibility at work, having the right tools is key.