Unpacking employee empowerment


Employee empowerment is a management philosophy that emphasizes the importance of giving employees the autonomy, resources, and the support they required to act independently and to be held accountable for the decisions they make.

Studies have shown that employee empowerment can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction, productivity, and engagement.

Allowing employees to have control over their work is the best way to optimize their performance and benefit the organisation.

Empowerment is a “trust-based” relationship between management and employees which entails giving up control on employees and allowing them to make decisions, set goals, accomplish results as well as receiving rewards.

It is a process of making employees able to manage themselves and develop them for future roles.

It is also a process of sharing power with employees with the aim of enhancing employee confidence in their ability to perform their jobs, and their belief that they are influential contributors to the organisation.

Employee empowerment is based on the concepts of job enlargement and job enrichment:


  1.     Job enlargement entails changing the scope of the job to include a greater portion of the horizontal process.


  1.     Job enrichment is a vertical expansion of the job by increasing the depth of the job to include responsibilities carried about at a higher level within the organization.


The two concepts on which employee empowerment are based show that for the process to be successful there is need for training employees in the skills necessary to carry out additional responsibilities, access to information on which decisions can be made as well as initiative and confidence on the part of the employees to take on greater responsibility.


Apart form enriching and enlarging employees’ jobs, managers can empower their employees in the following ways:


  1. Decision making empowerment – equipping employees with authority and tools to make decisions in their current roles. This increases employee accountability and confidence when performing their jobs.


  1.     Financial empowerment – entails an organization giving employees budgetary controls to support their decisions.


  1.     Time management empowerment – involves employees deciding how to manage their time to produce the desired outcome. This will result in prioritization and scheduling of work to produce best results.


  1. Shared information empowerment- involves managers sharing crucial business information that reduces barriers, promotes transparency, and gives employees a sense of belonging.


Empowering employees is a process which starts with providing agency and autonomy in your employee’s day to day activities.  Below are several ways that managers can empower their employees.


  1.     Set expectations and goals that can enable success.


  1.     Earn trust through delegation.


  1.     Give autonomy.


  1.     Provide resources and organizational support.


  1.     Being open and flexible to accommodate new and creative perspectives.


  1.     Empower employees however do not ignore.


  1.     Acknowledge the good work.


There are many benefits that an organisation can experience because of empowering its employees. These benefits range from improved employee performance because of motivated employees inspiring others towards similar achievements.  The following are some of the benefits of employee empowerment:


  1.     Improved accountability- Empowered employees maintain control over their work and develop a sense of responsibility leading to increased accountability.


  1.     Quicker turnaround- when employees must seek approval for their work, it slows down productivity however with decision making authority employees can resolve minor issues independently. Gradually employees can be empowered to make important decisions to resolve issues faster.


  1.     Improved customer service – as employees gain confidence in their judgement and problem-solving skills, they will be able to provide excellent customer service.


  1. Increased productivity – as employees gain a greater sense of ownership over their work, they become more invested in the outcome. This results in more effort leading to greater output.


  1. Greater initiative- empowered employees take initiative by reviewing existing processes and suggesting better alternatives that may benefit the organization.


  1.     Better collaboration – improved teamwork is one of the benefits of employee empowerment as employees take responsibility for their work, they seek advice and guidance from coworkers and managers. Empowered teams are therefore open to sharing best practices and help each other improve their performance.
  2.     More leadership potential – as empowered employees feel more inclined to explore their leadership potential. As employees take accountability for their job and take initiative they will accept and pursue substantial challenges thus bringing out their leadership potential.

Empowerment is a tool to support and improve the performance and productivity of employees. Empowered employees exude increased confidence while performing their jobs, the feeling of ownership and control motivates them to maximise their contribution in making the organisation successful.


Chiedza Kadare is an OD Practitioner. You can get in touch with her on WhatsApp/call +263 77 283 0986 or Email chiedza.kadare@gmail.com


Paul Nyausaru is an OD Practitioner and leadership coach. For all your OD interventions and leadership development training you can get in touch with him on WhatsApp/call +263774062756 or Email pnyausaru@gmail.com


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