Employee empowerment has more advantages than disadvantages. Power of company is directly proportional to power of employee. Hence, as a boss, the question to ask is: how powerful are my employees?
It’s popular gist that almost every employable person dreams of working at Google. Apart from the several perks, share options, freedom, things like making sure you have your own thing you’re constantly working on, there are also some interesting options like changing your department if you’re tired of the one you’re in. A recruitment video they posted some years ago garnered reactions from skepticism to outright disbelief. The consensus of the public seemed to be: what company makes money treating their staff this good?
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I was having a conversation with a much older colleague and I talked about Google and employee benefits without mentioning the name of the company. The colleague laughed and said, “That company will fold up soon. They can’t last in business like that.”
I smiled. “Do you want to know the name of the company?”
“Google,” I said, and tried not to laugh at his utterly-shocked expression.
What Employee Empowerment Is And What It Is Not
A lot of employers are yet to learn that their organization is only as powerful as its staff. Therefore, they do not take employee empowerment seriously, don’t give their staff any downtime, no benefits, and some don’t even say nice words to the staff.
And the staff is supposed to keep being productive? In a place where someone spends the most time of their day, it’s only fair for them to expect some kind of happiness.
Leaving room for the excuse that not all companies can operate like Google (I don’t see why not, but), every company in every industry has a code of ethics, a bunch of best practices, no? The question is: “How closely do these companies stick to these guidelines?”
The answer to that question can make the difference between winning and losing.
It’s surprising to think some employers think being nice to staff is a show of weakness; that being kind makes them some kind of fools. So they go around the workplace with a frown on their face, they never crack a smile, never compliment staff for anything; they don’t give bonuses, no vacation time – all sorts of strange practices that kill the business slowly but surely. They unconsciously create a strained and tense environment, and the workplace becomes the kind of place people are afraid to go to in the morning. This puts a strain on the employee and no matter the threats and insults meted out to him, quality of work suffers.
On the other hand, it’s not as though a lax environment makes for the best employees either. But balance, moderation is just as necessary in the workplace as with anywhere else. The best employees realize their primary purpose for being in the company is to work, but they also get benefits from the company – benefits that exceed their paycheck.
Apart from the emotional side of employer empowerment, there’s also the functional part. When a company invests in the training of its staff, it enables them (staff) in terms of efficacy and efficiency. Knowledge is power – cliché, but true. The more knowledge the staff acquire, the better they are expected to be at their respective jobs. The better they are, the more valuable they become. Instead of seeing the value for the company that employees are enabled to acquire more and more knowledge, the employers fear this may empower employees to leave in search of greener pastures with their new knowledge or skill.
This sometimes also contributes to reluctance of employers to commit to training.
Businesses should have revolving doors when it comes to employee empowerment. Training/empowerment or not, people will leave whenever they want to. Besides, it’s not best practice to hold anyone anywhere against their will – except maybe in prison. More value is gotten from an employee who wakes up and cannot wait to get to work, than one who looks at work like it’s a cancer – something to be done away with.
When value is added to others, either directly or indirectly value is returned to the source. That’s just how life works.
There are various leadership styles, various types of bosses, and, therefore, various methods of empowering employees. One thing remains constant, however: happy employees make for successful companies. Or as Richard Branson of Virgin said: “Clients do not come first; employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.”
Some good advice freely given.
What do you think of employee empowerment; yay or nay? Let us know in the comments!
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