The business environment organizations are currently characterized by fast paced changes and challenges imposed by the era of globalization and its effects on intensifying the level of competition. In such turbulent environment, successful organization can only survive through their ability to rapidly respond to such challenges. As such, organization managers and leaders should realize that their success is highly dependent on their ability to retain and capitalize on the talents of their subordinates. Thus, employee empowerment is one the essential tools that enable organization’s leaders to “humanize” the work environment and, consequently, enhance productivity and climb greater heights and enhanced ability to achieve remarkable goals.
A management approach, employee empowerment is designed to give front-line employees the authority they need to do what needs to be done without having to check with management. This, undoubtedly, creates a work environment which allows each individual to work to the highest capacity, the freedom to take initiative, to create, to solve problems and to assume responsibility for completing the task on hand. It is in this sense leads to job ownership that comes from understanding how the person’s job fits into the organization’s bigger picture. Thus, empowerment puts meaning, responsibility, interest, excitement, challenge, ability to manage and adapt to a changing organizational environment.
In order to gain the benefits of empowerment, a number of facilitators are required, among them are:
- Clear vision and challenge: In order for employees to understand the organization vision, they must have access to the strategic information about the future direction of the organization. Such vision provides a clear direction so that employees feel they have the capability to act autonomously in their work rather than just wait for permission and direction from management expresses the organization’s strategic intent while at the same time energizing employees to realize it. For example, British Airlines has set its mission statement in the following words “World’s favorite airline”
- Openness and teamwork: In order for people to feel empowered, the must feel that there is a corporate culture that emphasizes the value of the human assets in the organization. Such culture should allow:
- Participation, flexibility, concern, creative problem solving and cohesive teamwork.
- Employees’ ideas are valued and are taken seriously in the decision making.
- Discipline and control: While highly empowered employees have autonomy, yet they should be aware of the boundaries of their decision making discretion. This implies that they should have:
- Clear but challenging goals and objectives that are aligned with the organization’s vision.
- Clear expectations and authority to reduce uncertainty and ambiguity.
- Support and sense of security: Individuals need a sense of social support from their managers, peers and subordinates to take initiative and risk. Thus, the organization must support its employees as they learn and grow.
Among the benefits of empowerment are the following:
- Enhances employee satisfaction: Delegating responsibilities to employees is an effective management strategy that helps to increase employee satisfaction. Empowering employees give them a feeling of belonging and ownership, which directly translates to efficiency and effectiveness.
- Better motivation: Employee empowerment is the leading factor behind employee training and development.
- Less conflict: Employees will face less conflict with managers and administration means employees are motivated to contribute in decision making.
- Employee retention: Organizations that acknowledge employees’ opinions create stable environment of honor, contentment and respect. Organizations that have empowering leaders attract trustworthy employees who work with them for a long period. On the other hand, chances of losing loyal employees are unlikely.
- Better customer service: Employees feel that they require gaining a level of authority, knowledge and control that is necessary to solve customer related problems. As a result, they are able to deliver better services to their customers. Accordingly, employees feel more useful when given the change to contribute to the decision making process.
- Increased profits: Since most organizations work is geared towards reaping profit, employee empowerment is essential when it comes to increasing profitability. Empowering each employee helps lower absenteeism and encourages productivity, which in turn increases profits in the organization.