When people feel empowered in the workplace, they are more likely to take ownership of their work, contribute innovative ideas, and just straight up be happier. There are concrete ways to boost a feeling of empowerment, in the workplace, most of them focus on communication and, you guessed it, actually empowering people. People who are empowered in the workplace feel trusted, which is one of the biggest factors in feeling respected by their workplace. Respect breeds respect, and a lot of employers who take conscious steps to respect their employees find they are given markedly more respect in return.
Consequences of a lack of empowerment at work
A workplace that fails to empower its employees often experiences negative consequences. Employees may feel undervalued, voiceless, and disengaged. This can lead to a decline in morale, increased absenteeism, and a higher turnover rate. Moreover, a lack of empowerment can stifle creativity and innovation, hindering the organisation’s growth and adaptability.
Several factors contribute to feelings of disempowerment at work. One common factor is a lack of clear communication and transparency from leadership. When employees are kept in the dark about important decisions or changes, they may feel excluded and powerless. Additionally, a rigid hierarchy and micromanagement can limit employees’ autonomy and decision-making authority, leaving them feeling disempowered. Lack of recognition for contributions, limited opportunities for growth and development, and a culture that does not encourage risk-taking can also contribute to disempowerment.
How to empower others at work as a leader
A key strategy is building systems that allow people to fail safely. A culture in which all ideas can be voiced safely encourages people to swing for the fences, being ambitious and confident. A lot of management-speak centres on “blue sky thinking” and “no bad ideas”, but actually following through and supporting people when they contribute things that may be unworkable, without condemnation, can be tougher in situations of stress.
To empower others at work, both leaders and employees can take proactive steps. As a leader, it is crucial to create an environment that encourages open communication, transparency, and participation. Involve employees in decision-making processes whenever possible and provide them with the necessary information to understand the context and impact of their work. This doesn’t mean that managers can’t make decisions that employees won’t like, but communicating the reasoning for these decisions will demonstrate the respect necessary to keep employees engaged. It’s much easier to bring people with you on a decision if they understand the steps.
It’s also vital to recognise and celebrate achievements. This can mean a regular shout-out of successes, or even just admirable efforts. Offering opportunities for skill development and growth, allowing employees to expand their capabilities and take on new responsibilities makes employees concretely invested in the success of any project. When employees feel connected to a project or workplace they will make extra efforts, and invest more of their ingenuity and passion.
How to empower others at work as a employee
As an employee, you can also play a role in empowering yourself and others. Take initiative and be proactive in seeking out opportunities to contribute and learn. Build positive relationships with your colleagues, support and encourage their ideas, and provide constructive feedback. Share your knowledge and expertise with others, fostering a collaborative and supportive environment. Recognise and appreciate the contributions of your teammates, promoting a culture of recognition and appreciation. Culture is more effectively built from the ground up, so engaging in good faith with the management strategies will help the entire organisation move forward.
A sense of empowerment in the workplace is vital for creating a positive and thriving work environment. By recognizing the consequences of a disempowering workplace, understanding the factors that contribute to feelings of disempowerment, and implementing strategies for empowerment, both leaders and employees can contribute to fostering a culture of empowerment. There are steps we can all take to empower others, and feel empowered ourselves.
Throughout August, we will be diving deep into the topic of ‘Empowerment’ including achieving personal empowerment, empowering others and children, and the significance of empowerment in relationships.