There are several elements that contribute to the health of the workforce and the workplace. Having these elements in a workplace tend to have a significant positive effect on those present, with benefits reaching employees, customers, and the business in general. Their inclusion in the workplace is vital to the creation and maintenance of a respectful international workplace.
This article will look at one of the contributing elements of a psychologically healthy workforce, employee engagement and empowerment, and its role in respectful international workplaces. Topics will include an explanation of empowerment and engagement, the benefits they offer for businesses, and what options are available to improve them in the workplace.
What Is Employee Engagement?
Businesses that have a strong employee engagement have staff members who are emotionally engaged-or involved-with the business and are willing to do more than the minimum requirement. These are the employees that do additional work or tasks without being asked or obliged to do, simply because they want to. This is referred to as discretionary effort, which is defined as the level of effort a person is able to put into a task, activity, etc. that is above what is required of them to do so.2
Employee Empowerment-Engagement is designed to empower employees and assure them that they have value in the business.3 Empowerment allows the employees to be able to take charge of their role in the business as an individual component rather than just another cog in the system. The employees have control over their actions, decisions, and work within the part of the business they occupy.4 In many cases, empowerment is a kind of freedom. Empowerment is usually bestowed upon employees by those in management, and not until the employee in question is able to prove that they are going to be able to handle the control given to them.
What Are The Benefits Of Employee Engagement And Empowerment?
The features of a healthy and respectful international workplace are not a part of it simply because it looks or sounds nice. There are genuine benefits that these features provide to the workplace, the workforce, and businesses. This still applies to employee engagement and empowerment. In many cases, these benefits to the motivations of business leaders to instill practices that encourage these features for the sake of their employees and their business. After all, if something has proven itself to be a good thing, wouldn't you want to have the chance to gain from it?
In specific regards to employee engagement and empowerment, several of those benefits include:
Improved Productivity-Numerous studies have shown that employees who are actively engaged in their work and with the companies they work for tend to have significantly higher levels of productivity than their peers who are not engaged. In some cases, the performance and productivity of those companies that have strong employee engagement can be up to 200% more productive than those who do not.5 This, in turn, can produce further benefits through the improvement in the quantity and quality of the work that is produced by engaged employees.
Employee Autonomy-Employee autonomy is a given when empowerment is involved. Some misidentify job autonomy as employees isolating themselves from each other, being dangerously unrestricted in their jobs, or working without any kind of support system or safety net in place. In actuality, autonomy is defined as being able to have control over your work environment and actions in a way that allows you to excel.7 Many employers approve of autonomy amongst their staff because it means that those employees are trustworthy and capable of working without constant supervision or assistance. Employees who are successfully autonomous at work are often viewed as self-starters and ideal leadership candidates.
Employee Creativity-Employees who are creative at work are innovative and are able to think outside of the box. Their skills are highly prized by employers who are always looking for workers who can bring new ideas and solutions to the table. With engagement and empowerment being encouraged amongst the workforce, creativity tends to increase as well. This is because engaged employees see the value of creativity and find that the effort put into it at work is necessary.8 Through their engagement and empowerment, they have more interest and confidence in using their creativity in their work for the business.
Trust, Loyalty, and Commitment-Employers who encourage empowerment and engagement amongst their employees often use it as a means of building trust, loyalty, and commitment between them and their staff. Engaged employees care about their work because of the presence of those elements in their emotional connection they have with the business they work for.9 They are loyal and committed to their employer because they trust them, and it is often mutually reciprocated in healthy workplaces. It is expressed by the employee through their work and by the employer through their treatment and care of their employees.
How To Improve Employee Engagement And Empowerment
In order to reap the benefits of employee engagement and empowerment, there must be engagement and empowerment amongst the employees in the first place. You cannot get one without the other and you have to actively put the work in to get either. For some businesses and workplaces, engagement and empowerment is present but it is too weak to have any real impact. This could be because those efforts to foster engagement and empowerment are weak themselves and no one is putting in the effort to strengthen or maintain them.
It's more likely that there is some kind of engagement and empowerment present that is just too weak to produce anything than there being nothing what-so-ever. Assuming that there isn't anything there because there isn't any tangible effect from it is easier to do than admitting that there is something there but it's just not enough, poor effort, sloppy, etc. Thus, there needs to be some focus on improving what is already there and not just encouraging it to develop from nothingness. Some of the ways that businesses can improve employee engagement and empowerment in the workplace include:
Training and Education-Giving someone the training, education, and general means to improve themselves is always going to be a good thing, regardless of the motivations for doing so. Training and education in the workplace can be used to give employees the right resources to empower themselves and make connections with their work. It's hard to accomplish anything and find success if you do not have the right tools to do so, which can seriously hurt employee engagement and empowerment.10 By offering those tools-be it training, education, or something similar-employers are showing that they care about their employees and that they want them to succeed.
Make A Connection-Engagement and empowerment involves employees making an emotional connection with their employers, the company, and their work. Without that connection, your efforts are not going to have much of an impact. Building it falls largely to those in power within the company: the managers, supervisors, bosses, and anyone else in a leadership position. They need to make that connection by showing their employees that they are valued and that their appreciation of them is sincere.12
Listen!-Engagement and empowerment isn't going to work if employers do not listen to their employees. This means listening and paying attention to their concerns and complaints instead of just their positive remarks. Too many businesses try to build engagement and empowerment by throwing things at their employees and hoping for the best; they're trying to show they care without putting in any real effort, just stuff and money.13 Listening to what your employees have to say can help you pinpoint areas of concern that may be impeding engagement, empowerment, or success in general.
Get Motivated-Motivation goes a long way when it comes to engagement and empowerment. It literally helps people want to get involved and do things, no matter how difficult those things may be. Many businesses actually use motivation to help foster engagement and empowerment, typically with the use of gifts to show appreciation. Those gifts don't just act as a way to show appreciation for an employee's efforts, but motivates them to continue doing well in order to receive more.14
Offer Opportunities To Grow-The low turnover and high retention rates associated with engagement and empowerment means that workers are staying with the same employers for longer portions of their careers. This is because those employers are also offering them opportunities to grow within the companies.15 Even the most satisfied employee is not going to stay that way for very long if their career begins to stagnate. Opportunities for growth allow employees to continue developing and improving themselves professionally, which in turn can have a significant positive impact on their work. The employers that offer those opportunities do so because they care and they want to show their employees that they have a future, even if they do not choose to include the business in it.
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