With generational challenges like the talent gap and the gig economy having a significant impact on modern business, empowering your team has become more important than ever before. Moreover, it has never been more transparent that employee engagement is directly correlated with productivity. Analytics company Gallup produced a telling study on this in 2018, showing that highly engaged teams can drive profitability up by as much as 20%. More effective leadership and a better employee experience are factors that can contribute greatly to this, but these are broad terms, so we’ve compiled a list of five ways businesses can empower their teams.
Many business experts feel that employees are happier and more productive if they can make their own choices about how they carry out their responsibilities. Of course, autonomy is a wide spectrum, and shouldn’t be overprescribed, but in moderation it can be the key to empowering employees and making them feel more valued. This can be as simple as asking for ideas, insights and input. For instance, a study by the University of Birmingham found that across 20,000 employees, those with more autonomy in their roles generally reported a greater sense of wellbeing and job satisfaction. Micromanaging is important in making your employees feel supported, but it can pay to know when to step aside and place trust in your workforce.
This is one of the most powerful tools that business leaders have, however many schemes tend to lack imagination, with little more than financial stimuli used in many cases. In a survey by employee motivation platform Perkbox, 66% of workers said that personalized benefits would make them feel more appreciated at work. Furthermore, Research suggests that 90% of employees who received a sincere thank you from a manager in the last month would say that they trusted their senior management, compared to 48% who had received no thanks. Often, a compassionate approach can go a long way in these scenarios, with methods as basic as positive feedback making all the difference.
Central to the future of HR itself, rather than just employee engagement, is the onset of technology in the workplace. As this technology becomes more readily available, employees expect it at their fingertips just as the typical consumer would, so it’s important to integrate it quickly and efficiently. Moreover, this is a key factor in making basic tasks faster and simpler. For instance, a Deloitte study has shown that 60% of all occupations comprise at least 30% of activities that are technically automatable. This can include training and education, social engagement within the workplace, the use of performance management tools and the ability to collaborate between departments. This could be the key to making your day-to-day employee experience smoother and more enjoyable.
Mental health and wellbeing
With the world becoming more vigilant with mental health awareness each day, spotting things like burnout is key to empowering employees. The epidemic has now been declared an official “occupational phenomenon” by the World Health Organization, and a Gallup poll showed that 23% of full-time workers it surveyed felt burned out very often or always. Moreover, there is substantial evidence to suggest that this burnout is leading to decreased engagement. Based on this, establishing employee support systems should be the first step. For instance, companies might consider implementing more rigorous manager training when it comes to dealing with burnout, which may encompass things like teaching how to spot red flags.
Learning and training are pillars of any workplace culture and correlate clearly with employee engagement. However, a study by German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus shows that 80% of traditional training is forgotten after 30 days, so an alternative approach is often necessary. A common trend in approaching this dilemma is Microlearning – bite-sized training content, offering just the right amount of knowledge to help a learner achieve a specific, actionable objective. This method is based around proven, neuroscientific techniques, and is thought to improve knowledge retention, avoid knowledge overload and most importantly, improve employee engagement.
The realm of employee empowerment and engagement can be a rabbit-hole, and often fraught with risk. However, it’s certainly possible to take steps towards change without making a radical, seismic shift. Methods such as giving more autonomy to employees or administering more personalized benefits can be incremental, with low risk and potentially high reward. It’s as simple as making small change, monitoring the response and plotting your next move.