Empowering employees is an important part of growing a sustainable business. Research suggests that when employees feel empowered, it can be linked to stronger job performance, satisfaction, and commitment to the company. They are a vital element to the overall success of your organisation, so make sure there is opportunity for them to grow and thrive.
Think of it like the opposite of micro-management. You are giving employees permission to take action and make decisions. There needs to be an understanding in place to ensure these actions are in line with your company goals, but you’re giving authority to them to undertake their roles as they determine best.
Employee empowerment is also about trust and responsibility. We’ve talked quite a bit in the past about building trust with one another and why it’s important to us. Last year we were crowned ‘Most Trusted UK Energy Consultancy (SME)’ at The Energy live Consultancy Awards (TELCA) for a third time, which was incredible! Trust isn’t something which happens overnight but takes time. It’s means a lot to us to have received this recognition as we hope it goes some way to show our clients they are in safe hands.
We believe that when you successfully empower others and open doors to opportunities, you create a more connected culture and a better employee experience. Below are a few of our key tips to help you facilitate employee empowerment and create a more positive working environment for all those involved.
As a leader, part of your role is to make sure everyone is on the same page. Communicating your vision clearly is an important step in this process. It also helps to make employees feel like they are part of the bigger picture and not just a cog in the wheel. Explain how they individually contribute to the end goal or your vision so that they understand they make a difference.
We have our values on the wall in the office so that pre COVID-19, when we walked in each morning, we knew what we were working towards that day. We also include our vision in our monthly meetings and take it in turns to read it out loud. Just saying the words to one another helps instil the message even further.
In order to truly empower employees, you want them to know their opinions are valued. Be open to hearing their ideas and create a safe place for them to do this. For this to work, you will need to make sure there is a process in place not only for discussing ideas but for exploring whether it’s something which will be taken forward in the business or not. If you can’t implement an idea, be honest and explain the reasons why. This will ensure employees feel listened to and will also help encourage them to submit ideas in the future. Not only will this help empower employees it will also open your business up to great new ideas.
We use our Brain Box process to do just this! It’s an opportunity for anyone within the company to submit an idea. Ideas could be role specific, a new process, an idea for a social or new piece of office furniture. Every idea is looked at and reviewed and all ideas receive feedback. If we can do it, then great! If we can’t then we don’t ignore it, we explain why, park it and revisit it in the future.
There are lots of reasons why it is important to recognise work well done. It helps boost morale, demonstrates hard work is recognised and encourages innovation. Showing appreciation also makes it more likely that they will do it again which can only be a good thing! Results aren’t the only thing that matter and not everything will be a success – what matters is the effort put in. By praising effort, you encourage employees to continue learning, growing and caring about your company. Empower employees by letting them get involved with arranging the celebrations. Whether it’s organising a social event or choosing prizes, make sure they have input into how you will go about celebrating achievements.
There are lots of different ways we show appreciation at the nest. One of those ways is with our ‘Swan Socials’ once a quarter, which is a time for the whole team to come together and take part in an activity. Employees nominate themselves to organise an event for the whole company, and so far, we have been cocktail making, held sports days, organised picnics, days out by the river… even laser tag! It’s an opportunity for all the Swans to spend some time together outside of the nest and have a bit of fun.
It could be very easy as leaders to set out what you want employees to achieve, what target to aim towards and then communicate this with employees afterwards but employees aren’t always going to jump onboard. Instead work with employees by empowering them to set their own targets. It’s important of course to make sure these are inline with the overall business objectives, but by involving them in the process you are also passing them some accountability.
Over the past two years we’ve worked together as a team to redesign and develop our appraisal process to help everyone get the most out of it. Ultimately, we have created a 1 3 5 process which works for employees as well as the business. It not only looks at their life at Indigo Swan but also their personal goals and ambitions. It’s taken a while, but we feel we have created something everyone feels comfortable completing and will get the most out of.
We all know things sometimes get in the way – life happens! Empower employees by making them accountable for their time. This won’t be possible for every organisation, but if you can why not introduce flexible working hours. It could be that you have core working hours where everyone needs to be working and then either side of that they can choose when they work to suit them. It could be to accommodate a certain lifestyle, for example looking after children or for when employees know they are most productive. Not everyone works well first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
Last year we introduced flexible working not only to improve wellbeing and productivity, but to empower Swans to be responsible for their time. It also helps demonstrate the trust we have in each other. Swans are trusted to manage their own time whilst making sure our customers still receive the best possible service.
Finding ways to empower employees during the lockdown is important and all the tips above can be transferred to remote working. Give them the opportunity to choose working hours to suit their current lockdown lifestyle. Let them contribute towards ideas. It might be planning a virtual social event or coming up with content ideas for blogs. Delegate and reward for work well done!
Head of Marketing