Workplace empowerment is the term used to describe the autonomy and responsibility employers extend to employees in a workplace environment. Empowered employees are typically given leeway in how they perform their jobs, manage others and make decisions. Empowered employees may be more likely to enjoy their positions and have higher morale. This can increase workplace productivity, reduce turnover and create greater levels of professional motivation company-wide.
Most small businesses have a chain of command employees are expected to follow when it comes to different levels of decision making. For example, employees may be empowered to make decisions about simple workplace issues, such as what type of office supplies to order, but be required to consult a manager for larger decisions, such as whether to extend credit to a particular customer. Empowering employees to make decisions gives staffers a vested interested in the business’ success.
Even in small operations, different positions or departments are likely to be allocated their own budgets. Giving employees financial empowerment allows them to decide the best uses of the budget for supporting their positions and achieving company goals. When employees have this type of financial empowerment, they are more likely to review their spending, look for the most appropriate use of funds and use their budgets wisely. Staffers may be less likely to miss deadlines that incur extra costs or to over-spend, simply because they will have a more personal connection and sense of stewardship with the funds they are using.
Some employers feel the need to see employees seated at their desks to feel they are getting a full day’s worth of work from them. Small business owners who empower employees with managing their own time focus more on outcomes than on hours worked. This approach gives employees the autonomy to use their time as they see fit, working non-traditional hours or dividing time between a home office and a work location. Employees are still expected to complete their work products on schedule and to be available during times when a physical presence is required.
Employees who are empowered with an honest and forthright look at what’s going on behind the scenes at work are less likely to feed the corporate rumor mill. When employees are left in the dark about key business decisions or lack an understanding of why a particular business approach is being implemented, they may feel shut out. When open and honest communication is promoted, employees will feel like valued and important members of the small business team. They will be more likely to feel empowered to help with problem solving and new program implementation.