Beyond Buzzwords | Defining Employee Empowerment

This is the second post in our “Beyond Buzzwords” blog series.  Here, we’ll be taking a look at what employee empowerment really means and how it can benefit your business.

Why empowerment matters and why you shouldn’t fear it

Empowerment is a term that many leaders think they understand, but few actually do. Because it’s often inconsistently tossed around in corporate environments, without first being defined, empowerment has gradually become another buzzword, backed by a set of idealistic theories that are rarely put into practice.

Some leaders believe empowerment is something to fear.  They are afraid that empowering their employees means giving up leadership and control themselves.  This is far from reality.  When employees are empowered, it actually results in stronger communication and deeper loyalty.  To understand how this works, we must first define the term “empowerment.”

What employee empowerment means

Empowering your employees essentially means enabling them to control their work and to behave more autonomously to accomplish the goals you’ve set forth for your organization. It basically means giving them a sense of independence and fostering the belief that they are in control of their own destinies.  It means enabling them to become leaders, even without the title or the higher pay grade that often comes with a leadership role.

Fostering the belief that they are in control of their career growth ultimately fosters an entrepreneurial sprit.  This may sound like something to fear, but it’s not. It does not mean your employees will abandon you to become entrepreneurs themselves.  It simply means they’ll be more motivated to contribute to the growth of your company and to treat it like it’s their own.

How employee empowerment benefits you

Empowered employees are more motivated, and therefore more engaged than those who haven’t been empowered. Effective empowerment requires stronger and more frequent communication from management, which leads to stronger communication from employees as well.  Leaders must reveal the bigger picture in order to empower their employees to take effective action.  Employees who know more will feel trusted and be willing to work harder for the leaders who trusted them.  This strengthens the employer-employee relationship and eventually translates into greater loyalty, higher engagement and better retention.  Long-term, their success means more success for you and your business.

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