Empowerment analytics: How and why should we measure empowerment?
- 6 Min Read
Empowered employees produce 87% more than others, but 85% of employees define empowerment through abstract concepts. Empowerment expert Ashley Brundage shares findings from over eight years of research and 10,000 surveys on what metrics matter when pushing the needle on empowerment.
The simple definition of empowerment is authority and power connected to people. But measuring how people are feeling in relation to empowerment and what makes them different isn’t easy. This is a major issue when you consider 72% of organizations say empowering workers makes them more productive. Understanding empowerment and approaching this complex, human concept with specific empowerment analytics is, therefore, a vital way to drive and measure organizational success.
Having completed more than eight years of research and spoken to over a thousand people about what empowerment is to them in our initial outreach, I present findings that will guide your approach to measuring and acting on empowerment.
Empowerment analytics research
From the extensive, multi-year research, I found that people define empowerment predominantly based on passion and other human-centric feelings. These made up 85% of the responses. Some other examples of these human-related answers were communication, trust, empathy, confidence, and decision-making. Each of these responses is extremely hard to measure, track, or judge. This is why it is tough to communicate the impact of human feelings.
The remaining 15% of respondents mentioned items that were easy to track, measure, and judge since most of them had a number or measure built into their response. These items were mostly time or money related to the individual and their success and/or the connection to other people.
This survey confirmed my suspicions that people’s responses could validate the definition of empowerment. Going back to our initial definition, the emotional answers that are hard to measure became “authority” and the numeric responses became “power” since we can measure this easily by a numeric value.
Following the survey, I realized I needed to turn my passion project of helping people better understand empowerment into real tangible analytics. I still needed to address 85% of the emotional ties we have to empowerment to be able to impact more change.
The key was building a very quick and trusting survey tool to measure how disempowered or empowered people are for the differences they have as human beings. We built a survey tool that does this and have now surveyed more than ten thousand people since March 2023, measuring how the teams are feeling and connecting those feelings to the empowering actions from our framework.
What empowerment analytics should companies measure?
Personally, having a hidden disability, I was excited to provide data on the success of accessibility programs from the same 2-minute assessment survey. Other key findings included the effectiveness of mentoring and inclusion groups that organizations are making large investments towards.
Most organizations also struggle with understanding the impact of their employee resource groups and other development programs. These programs need to drive their people to be looking to measure their own impact of the empowering actions the participants execute. Anyone can keep track of the power items as they all have the analytics built into the success. For example, your teams know how many events took place, how many people participated, and how much time was spent during a session.
The people can also track other business successes like client success, lower turnover, and shareholder return. The authority side of empowerment analytics belongs directly to the people. This is the difficult part because it requires people to ask others how they are feeling. Organizations can do this through 360-review peer feedback models.
Most organizations also attempt to measure this through employee engagement survey tools. But remember that these surveys typically have a low honesty factor and don’t keep the empowerment with the people because the company is asking for their rating.
The tie between pay equity and empowerment analytics
The community activist side of me was the most excited when we realized we could understand how people feel about pay equity, and therefore what actions organizations could take.
Many organizations around the world do pay equity analyses. If there is an issue or not, the company is quick to toot its horn to say that it did an analysis and there are now no longer any pay equity problems for its employees. I can tell you I have worked for companies that have stated this was true and since they can’t disclose with transparency what everyone is paid, employees must trust the organization.
This is a tough pill to swallow for anyone, but people on the lower end of the socioeconomic class spectrum will have a harder time with this. Also, these same employees can usually search public records to find out what the highest-level officers earn financially in an organization, which is also deflating. They then also know how much the starting pay is in the organization.
Equity on any social issue is extremely tough to work towards. Truly measuring pay equity would require you to find out how much living expenses each person has, what they pay to commute to work, what zip code they live in, how much savings they have, and systematically how much money their family has inherited over their time within the country they live in and if they had or have equitable access to the same resources. Our recommendation is to work towards leveraging empowerment education to help people hold on to their own measurements of the impacts they make.
Social justice work is highly emotional as some people will read about the word equity and think that it is an attack on their pocket. But this is why it is so important to know the power of your pocket. I recommend most people know the economic buying power of business from their different identity groups as those can be very powerful in building a business case for this work. I often share the 1.7 trillion dollar buying power of LGBTQ businesses in meetings and events, as that would be the 10th largest economy in the world. That is how we get people to notice the need to include all the differences we have in their work.
The growing power of empowerment analytics
72% of organizations say productivity has increased by empowering frontline workers. Also, according to the Dartmouth Tuck School of Business, entrepreneurial businesses’ second most pressing issue is not empowering their people. The need for people analytics will only increase as the number of people and our differences increase on this planet. The time is now to begin to leverage empowerment for people to drive and measure success in your organization.
To learn more about Ashley T Brundage and her research and survey platform please visit www.empoweringdifferences.com