Employee empowerment is an important strategy for small business owners and managers. Empowering your workers helps them become meaningful participants in the decision-making processes within your company. Some employees tend to participate more than others, but higher levels of participation can help them feel more engaged and committed to their jobs.

Surrender Control

The biggest concept behind empowerment is that you are going to give up some control of decision-making to employees. It is up to you to look at your current business model and determine how much of this control can reasonably be shared without affecting important considerations such as quality control and financial accountability. If you enable employees to participate in decision-making, you are giving them a way to take more responsibility, which can motivate them intrinsically instead of extrinsically.

Create Buy-In

Giving people more responsibility and input into decision-making processes creates the opportunity for them to "buy-in" to their work, according to Chris Musselwhite, writer for Inc. magazine. Ask employees for ideas for a work process. In your business, ask employees to help you brainstorm how to improve a core activity, such as filling a customer order, with a goal such as increased efficiency or customer satisfaction.

Source New Ideas

Get employee input into as many aspects of the organization as possible, not just work processes. Go a step further than just creating a suggestion box. Create ways for employees to suggest ideas on their own initiative, not just in response to your requests for input. Employees can contribute in staff meetings, they can approach managers directly with new ideas, they can implement small-scale innovations in their own work areas, and they can be actively involved in making your business responsive to changing business conditions.

Get the Employees' Vote

Employees should get to vote on decisions that affect everyone in the company. For example, employees can vote on the kinds of health insurance plans that will be offered in the next year or the specific gym membership that will be subsidized by your company. This kind of participation in broad-scale decision-making gives employees influence over the financial rewards of their employment and demonstrates how much you value their membership in the company.

Create Team Decisions

In companies with work teams, there are many ways to empower employees. For example, team members can set their goals and choose how to best accomplish them. You can let them influence the makeup of their team. Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey says his employees can vote on whether newly hired staffers get to remain on their work teams. This is a powerful concept because new employees must work really hard to prove their worth to their peers to keep their jobs.