4 Steps to Build Employee Empowerment

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn four important steps you can take to build employee empowerment, ensure productivity, and create a positive and successful work environment.

[Featured image] Team in a meeting discussing employee empowerment plans

Running a successful company requires employees to work together to complete their tasks and meet their goals. As a leader, you need to have the skills to build employee empowerment.

What is employee empowerment?

Employee empowerment is a workplace concept that allows individuals to make decisions about certain aspects of their daily activities and professional development. It encourages autonomy and growth, often resulting in higher-skilled workers and a more positive and productive workplace.

Employees gain empowerment when they have a feeling of ownership in their work.  Every leader can help employees feel empowered in every department. Upper management is responsible for defining the company's tone, managers are accountable for their employees daily, and human resources (HR) creates the atmosphere for how to treat employees. Inspiring and motivating successful employees requires the knowledge to create employee empowerment.

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Useful steps to help employees feel empowered.

Effective managerial skills are necessary when running a team, but you also need the knowledge to help your employees feel empowered. This includes building trust. If your workers feel like you trust them to take the initiative to make their own decisions, they will feel empowered. Empowerment encourages them to excel in their role, yield higher productivity, and have better employee engagement with other team members. This can have a positive impact on profits, employee retention, and the overall workplace culture. Consider taking these four steps to help you build employee empowerment.

1. Encourage autonomy

Trust your team members to make decisions. This requires a leadership style that shows team members you are there to offer them support, empowerment, and coaching while giving them control. When offering autonomy, don’t micromanage your team members. Allow your employees to do things their way, even if it differs from yours. Employees who have the power to manage certain aspects of their daily jobs will have a sense of ownership in the work they do, which often results in higher-quality outcomes. Make sure they have the resources and skills needed to complete the task at hand. This will ensure they are better equipped to work independently and develop problem-solving skills.

2. Explain the goal clearly

Let your employees know what goals you want to achieve. Once they are clear on your expectations, allow them to reach the goal as they think is best. When you effectively explain what you expect from them, your employees will be better aware of how to do the job correctly, so you don’t have to spend time fixing any problems later. Go beyond the task at hand and explain how their contribution helps the company overall. This empowers employees to see their value in your organization as a whole, and it conveys to them that their work makes a difference.

3. Give and receive feedback

Giving your employees feedback on the work they are doing lets them know what they're doing well and what they might need to improve on. Be specific when offering feedback. Tell them what they are doing right, and they will know what to continue doing in the future. If a worker isn’t keeping up with expectations, let them know what they can do differently early on in the process to avoid any confusion. Also, let them know any constructive criticism you may have. Honest feedback can foster employee empowerment and help staff members learn from their mistakes and do things differently next time.

Be open to receiving feedback from your employees as well. This builds trust between you and your team members while also helping you understand any issues they may come across. Listening enables you to understand any obstacles your team members may need help overcoming. Create an environment where your team members feel comfortable sharing their opinions. By listening to their input and suggestions and letting them know you value their observations, you will make your employees feel empowered, and you might also discover new ways of doing things.

4. Recognize and reward

Recognizing hard work and accomplishments builds employee empowerment and helps people feel more respected. It can improve their confidence and encourage greater job performance. Showing your appreciation for a job well done can also empower employees to take action and use their problem-solving skills moving forward. While you can show appreciation for your employee’s achievements by expressing your gratitude through verbal feedback, other ways you can recognize their hard work include awards, monetary bonuses, career opportunities, team celebrations, and personal tokens of appreciation.

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Benefits of empowered employees

Empowered employees are motivated to help their company run successfully and tend to improve their work environment and increase productivity. When you empower your employees, you encourage them to give their best. Other positive benefits of fostering empowered employees include:

  • Enhanced quality of work: Employees are more likely to put more effort and energy into their jobs when they have a level of autonomy. When you let your team members make decisions without micromanaging them, they care more about the quality and the outcome of their work because they feel a sense of ownership.

  • Improved employee retention: Empowered workers feel a sense of satisfaction in their work, which positively affects your work environment. Satisfied employees tend to feel more valued, contributing to their quality of life. This often leads to employee retention, reducing the cost of training new workers.

  • Better collaboration: Empowered employees participate as part of a team, sharing information and ideas with other team members. When team members understand the goals they are working toward and how their contributions matter, they feel empowered to voice their input and share their practices with other employees. When managers recognize their employees’ hard work and accomplishments, it builds a sense of trust throughout the workplace.

  • Faster turnaround time: By giving employees the power to make their own decisions and check their work, it saves time having them wait for approval from upper management. It also allows them to develop problem-solving skills and resolve any issues quickly. By empowering your employees, you are giving them the responsibility to handle day-to-day tasks, which reduces their downtime.

  • Better work culture: Workers who feel empowered can boost morale. When employees make their own decisions, it encourages them to take the initiative, which makes them feel like a contributor. A positive work culture encourages empathy and growth throughout the company. When they receive recognition for their hard work, employees want to contribute more, making the work culture more positive.

Getting started with Coursera

Do you want to get more tips on how to empower your employees and foster a positive work culture? Check out the University of Rochester’s Introduction to Self-Determination Theory: An Approach to Motivation, Development, and Wellness on Coursera. This beginner’s course covers topics such as autonomy, competence, and relatedness when motivating others.

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Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.