Employee empowerment is becoming more important for healthcare systems and organizations. Empowerment refers to the “ongoing process of providing the tools, training, resources, encouragement and motivation your workers need to perform at the optimal level.” In an industry plagued with worker shortages, getting as much mileage possible out of each employee is critically important.. Moreover, employee empowerment can speed up processes and gives employees the motivation and drive to solve problems and provide solutions more rapidly compared an average employee who doesn’t feel inspired or empowered. Empowerment can benefit your employees in numerous ways, which we lay out below.
Increased Job Satisfaction
Empowered employees typically experience higher job satisfaction rates due to the increased sense of autonomy they feel. According to a recent report by the Saylor Foundation, a 1999 research study found that companies with high levels of employee satisfaction had a flexible, engaging work culture, which empowered employees. Another study confirmed this claim and found that flexible work environments had higher levels of satisfaction when compared with organizations with more structured, hierarchical work environments. Empowered employees were “granted the power to identify problems, provide solutions, and make important decisions,” according to the Saylor Foundation Study. Moreover, “increased responsibility, flexible work schedules, a fun work culture and public recognition for success stories all contributed to the employees’ sense of feeling empowered.”
Increased Employee Productivity
When employees are empowered, they feel like they can take charge and have an increased sense of responsibility and ownership over their work. This equates to significantly increased motivation and results in better work performance. To put it simply, employees that feel empowered tend to work harder because they feel that their work is actually valued and receive adequate positive reinforcement for their efforts.
According to the Saylor Foundation study, General Electric once introduced a program intended to empower employees and identify and eliminate redundancy, waste and bureaucracy. The results were positive. Employees felt “energized to meet the challenge and their creativity was unleashed as they restructured daily job functions and processes.” As a result, employee productivity skyrocketed and transformed GE into one of the largest, most profitable companies in the world.
Empowering your employees can also lead to cost reductions. As empowered employees experience increased satisfaction, their sense of loyalty and dedication to their job and organization also increases. This, according to a study cited by Saylor, results in “longer-term employees, less job transitioning, and improved retention rates, thus reducing employee turnover costs.”
Aside from that, increased productivity exhibited by empowered employees can result in better operational efficiency. Empowered employees are vigilant and take a sense of pride in their work, which causes them to become aware of inefficiencies in their routine day-to-day functions that can generate considerable costs for the company. Organizations with empowered and engaged employees experience 27% higher profits on average, according to a Gallup Organization study cited by Saylor.
Satisfied and autonomous employees will feel comfortable talking to management and leadership about challenges, observations or opportunities for improvement. They may raise cost-cutting measures that can benefit the organization. However, organizations must be willing to listen to the recommendations of its employees, an integral aspect to achieving employee empowerment. If your employees, who are on the front-lines, feel like no one is listening to them when they have made potentially beneficially observations, they are far less likely to feel empowered in their jobs. When employees are either empowered or lack empowerment, it creates a chain reaction that affects nearly every aspect of the job experience as well as the quality of work they produce.
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Quality of Work
Not only do employees that feel empowered typically produced more work, they also typically produce better work in terms of quality. Why is this the case? To produce great work, employees absolutely need to feel like they are integral to the success of the organization and that their work is being used in some way to actually help it progress. They want to know that what they spend their entire day doing actually makes a difference when it comes to the overall success of the organization.
As I mentioned earlier, employees who feel comfortable being creative and making suggestions to management oftentimes feel empowered. This is why empowerment can cultivate innovation. Employees who feel like they have a stake in company growth will offer more ideas and problem-solving solutions when challenges or obstacles arise. When employees see that their creativity and suggestions are being leveraged, it will foster growth and more critical and imaginative thinking. Moreover, managers oftentimes can’t see everything that their employees can. By believing in them and making them feel empowered, managers will be rewarded with astute observations made by their employees that can be leveraged to improve business practices and processes down the line.
How to get Started
It’s easy to get started making your employees feel empowered. First, you should start with a clear and strategic vision. This gives your employee’s something to get excited about and actively work towards. It describes where the company is, where it’s going and how it’s going to get there. A vision helps your employees work towards a common goal. Another way you can empower your employees is by recognizing efforts and rewarding successes. Employees need to feel confident if you want them to take initiative and make decisions that benefit your organization. Rewarding employees communicates to them that you’re happy with their work and that they should keep doing what they’re doing. It eliminates the anxiety associated with the unknown.
Even if you feel like your employees know you’re satisfied, it might be worth telling them one more time because they may actually have no idea how you feel. Rewarding employees also let’s them know that they are appreciated, which then results in increased motivation and a sense of pride. With these benefits in mind, it’s easy to see how empowerment, or lack thereof, can deeply impact an organization on many levels. To get the most out of your employees and create a rewarding and upbeat work environment, consider taking steps to increase employee empowerment today.