Employee empowerment has lots of benefits and is something every organisation can and should strive for.

Several factors can influence employee empowerment, these include:

  • Practising empowerment principles
  • Delegating authority
  • Training
  • Rewards and recognition

Having an empowered workforce has plenty of obvious benefits, from increases in revenue to higher levels of innovation. Yet, what many managers don’t realise is that it has a positive impact on their employees’ health too.

Empowered employees working together on their laptops.

What is employee empowerment and why is it important?

Employee empowerment is the opposite of micromanagement. Instead of controlling and keeping tabs on your teams, you trust and encourage them to make their own decisions. This may look like asking for their opinions on workflow processes, or actively involving them in creating and managing new systems.

The principles of employee empowerment are based on job enlargement and job enrichment.

  • Job enlargement: This increases the breadth of someone’s job. Now, this doesn't mean giving them more to do and overloading their schedule. In this instance, you give an employee the opportunity to take on similar, but rewarding tasks that usually sit outside of their role.
  • Job enrichment: This increases the depth and responsibility of a person’s role. For example, an employee may be granted sign-off or approval permissions, when usually these sit with their manager. Again these responsibilities should not be used as a way to offload work onto others. The aim of job enrichment is to support your employee’s growth and development.

After reading this, you needn’t worry your managers won’t have anything to do. They’ll have plenty to keep themselves occupied. Instead of focussing on jobs that their direct reports can manage, they can invest more time in their own development. For example, honing their people skills as they focus on their teams. Or, building expertise in their specialist field.

Nevertheless, despite the benefits of employee enrichment, what it can’t do is create a perfect work environment. Of course, there will be times when management has to express their authority and hold employees to account when something goes seriously wrong. However, these situations are usually very few and far between. Overall employee empowerment has numerous benefits, including higher job satisfaction, heightened productivity, and happier teams. All of which contribute to a great employee experience.

Empowered female employee working on her laptop.

How to empower your employees in four steps

Empowering employees can take time, especially if your business doesn’t have a clear organisational structure. In these instances, we recommend starting small so you don’t get overwhelmed. You can use our helpful steps as a starting point or for inspiration.

1. Recognise and reward your employees' achievements

Taking the time to appreciate your employees builds mutual trust and contributes to an empowered work environment. Not only that, when employees receive positive feedback from peers specifically, it promotes collaboration. Everyone expects their managers to deliver praise, so when appreciation comes from a colleague it’s special.1 And it’s this feeling that sustains employee engagement and healthy teams.

Early on, we realised the power of peer-to-peer recognition, so we made it an integral feature of the Perkbox app. Sending recognition has never been simpler as everything your employees need is in our easy-to-use app. There’s even functionality to include a customised note with each recognition – which can be tagged to your company values. This not only promotes the behaviours you want, but also showcases your organisation's culture.

To learn more about how you can use rewards to motivate your teams, download our helpful guide

2. Make employee empowerment part of your company culture

Senior leadership and HR professionals are in a great position to drive initiatives that open up meaningful employee discussions. Encouraging employees to provide honest feedback on process improvement, or other pain points, shows you value their opinion. And equally as important, trust their judgement. Both of these behaviours empower your employees, as they know their opinions contribute to your company’s success.

We wanted to make it easier for organisations to engage in consistent trust-building conversations with their employees. No matter how spread out or far apart they were. Whether it's communicating important updates or asking for feedback on recent business developments. Our visual card feature not only allows you to attach town hall recordings, but also surveys, benefits information, and more. Additionally, if you’re short on time you can use a range of easy-to-use templates. 

To learn more about cultural alignment on a global scale, download our helpful guide

3. Provide professional growth opportunities

Gone are the days when people chose a role based on salary alone. In today’s current job market, candidates are making career progression a priority. But in order to provide empowering training, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) recommend prioritising quality line management first.

But why? Research suggests that when line managers aren’t effective they can hold direct reports back and actually negatively affect their learning experience.2 This could be because they offer incorrect advice or simply aren’t capable of providing training to the necessary standard. External courses or industry-recognised qualifications gained outside of your organisation won’t have this issue. Though they may require significant investment.

HR manager smiling as she empowers employees

4. Give your employees greater autonomy over projects

Giving your employees more responsibility for their own projects makes them feel empowered as they can flex their skills and experience. In fact, when employees are thriving in an empowered environment, they perform at a higher level and are more engaged. When this happens your business will likely experience positive outcomes, such as an increase in revenue, improved creativity and greater innovation.

Prioritising autonomy also makes your workplace more inclusive. Everyone is different and so are their working habits. This is why autonomy is linked with job satisfaction, as people work in the way they want to. Rather than having tasks dictated to them. When employees can think freely they become self-motivated and are more willing to deliver exceptional work.

Employee empowerment benefits

There are many benefits of having empowered employees throughout your workforce. These include:

Highly motivated employees

Empowering employees to make their own decisions results in stronger job performance and higher levels of employee satisfaction. Both of which significantly contribute to motivation. The effect motivated employees have on your business doesn’t just end at increased levels of production and output. No, it’s far more reaching than that. Just a few motivated employees can boost morale and uplift an entire department. Now, with that in mind, imagine what an entire business of empowering leaders and motivated teams can achieve.

Motivated employees working together on their laptops.

More trust in leadership

If you trust your employees, they’ll reciprocate and trust you in return. Yes, this may sound obvious, but many managers have micromanaging habits they’re unaware of. Of course, trusting your employees with more responsibility is a balancing act. As we mentioned, you don’t want to burn out your employees by giving them too much. To get the balance right it’s good to check in with your direct reports, so you’re both aligned on workload and expectations.3

Healthier retention rates

Empowered teams are more likely to stick around than those who are micromanaged. When people know their input is respected they’re invested and want to be a part of your company’s success. Nobody wants to be in a work environment where everything is dictated to them. People like to have autonomy and a sense of agency over their work and career goals.

Another important factor to consider is the relationship between employee empowerment and culture. When management relinquishes control, they tend to practise positive rather than negative reinforcement. So instead of punishing they prefer to coach. Over time this can change an environment of fear to one that is safe. This contributes to low employee turnover rates, less stress, and reduced absenteeism.

Productive employee smiles at the rest of her team.

An increase in revenue

When employees feel empowered they’re usually more motivated. Because they love where they work and what they do. In fact, Gallup found that highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable than those who aren’t. This is because they’re more present and productive.4 Think about it, if something goes against your best judgement, but you have to do it because you’re manager has said so, you’ll feel frustrated. And your mind will wander. Empowered employees don’t encounter these problems as their managers trust they have the skills to do the job and leave them to it.

A fighting fit workforce

Trust is a fundamental part of employee empowerment. And in today’s work environment its significance will only grow – given the number of employees who are working from home. Having trust in your employees to not only do the job well, but to work well wherever they are will have a positive impact on their wellbeing. This means fewer leaves of absence, lower levels of stress, and higher levels of engagement.

Not to mention introducing initiatives such as flexible working policies makes your organisation more accessible. Especially for people who can’t work in an office for an extended period. To support wellbeing, some organisations provide employees with additional mental and physical health resources – this may include an all-in-one employee experience solution such as Perkbox. Perkbox includes plenty of on-demand workout videos for both novices and fitness enthusiasts. Additionally, it also includes a range of guided meditations, instrumental playlists for deep focus work, and more.

Higher levels of creativity and innovation

It comes as no surprise that the more freedom employees have the more creative they are. Research shows that employees who are allowed to express their ideas come up with more novel solutions than those who aren’t.3 And depending on schedules, empowered employees also tend to volunteer for other assignments and offer their input in other business areas. 

The office pet- a small black and white dog- sits in on a team meeting

Three practical employee empowerment examples

Understanding what employee empowerment requires is more difficult than simply learning what it is. Everybody knows employees don’t like to be micromanaged and want a degree of autonomy. But putting principles of empowerment into practice is where you can run into difficulty. Especially, if your organisation has practised a culture of control.

Nevertheless, you have to start somewhere. So to help you in your employee empowerment transformation we’ve put together some practical examples of how you can build trust in your company.

Create reverse mentorship programmes

Offering reverse mentorship programmes is one of the best ways to empower your employees. Firstly, they’re mutually beneficial to the mentor and mentee. For example the mentee, a senior manager gains valuable new digital skills. Whereas the mentor, a more junior colleague grows in confidence. Secondly, mentorship in itself is great for your company culture. What better way is there to create a collaborative environment than by having colleagues learn from each other.

You can deliver reverse mentorship programmes in several ways including:

  • Setting up mentorship meetings in-person once a week or month
  • Running virtual workshops where senior and junior colleagues work together
  • Creating projects that require support from junior and senior staff

One employee helps to train her co-worker by standing behind him looking at his screen.

Develop cross-training activities

Organisations who want to empower their employees, prioritise training. They understand that for their teams to take on greater responsibility they need to have the necessary skills. This is good for business too, as employees who are trained in different positions can help each other more and deliver a better service. For individual employees, this not only reduces stress, but also means they feel part of a team.

You can approach cross-training activities in several ways including:

  • Job shadowing opportunities
  • Internal development programmes
  • Rotating people between departments as part of their training

Get senior leadership to talk about their experience

While it’s tempting to invite guest speakers to discuss topics on leadership and management, you shouldn’t disregard people within your organisation. Depending on the size and age of your business you likely have experts that would welcome sharing their experience. Putting your own people front and centre will likely result in a more inspirational talk too, as your employees have a connection with the speaker.

Different formats these leadership talks can take include:

  • Informal lunch and learns
  • A wider part of a town hall
  • Videos or podcasts that form part of a series

Employees supporting each other as they participate in a team meeting.

Recognise, support and empower your employees

At the heart of empowerment lies recognition. Training people takes time and effort, for both the manager and direct report. Consequently, it’s important they’re equally recognised for their efforts, so motivation and morale are maintained.

An effective way to do this is with an employee experience program. These all-in-one solutions are especially cost effective for organisations who want to approach empowerment holistically. For example, they want to improve their comms strategy, in addition to offering perks and a reward and recognition scheme.

With our solution, we cover all aspects of employee experience to empower your teams and more. For example, Perkbox includes, over 9,000 discounts and deals. From days out to discounts on DIY, beauty, and tech. There’s something for everyone.

Learn how Perkbox can help empower your teams


What is employee empowerment?

Employee empowerment consists of two principles, role enrichment and role enlargement. Or in other words job breadth and job depth. These principles empower employees so they feel more confident and engaged at work. When empowerment is prioritised, organisations will notice a reduction in disengaged employees.

Why is employee empowerment important?

What is an example of employee empowerment?

Drive employee engagement with appreciation

Celebrate and motivate your employees no matter where they’re working — in one building, remotely or across multiple locations.

  • Create a culture of appreciation that engages employees wherever they are
  • Boost productivity and employee retention
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