Employee Empowerment during COVID-19

Employee Empowerment during COVID-19 768 384 Zach Merfert

Fascinating; According to a new HBR article (summarised in Business Wire) , “…organisations will be more successful when frontline workers are empowered to make important decisions in the moment…”

I say fascinating because Denison Consulting proved this through research long ago. In fact, we know that empowerment and employee involvement have measurable impacts on employee satisfaction, quality, customer satisfaction, and creativity. Further, we have found across our clients that empowerment is the highest organizational culture predictor of both organizational trust and employee engagement as well as the fourth highest cultural predictor of innovation.

When employees are empowered, they tend to be more engaged as they can make decisions and have input. Trust increases as more information is shared and people are involved in business planning. Empowerment also enhances creativity by building ownership and responsibility & encouraging information sharing.

So how might we further empower employees particularly now?

1) Sharing information about the business widely

Ensure the tools, channels, and processes (team meetings, 1:1 check-ins, messaging tools, assessments) are in place for effective communication and feedback.
Even if the update is, “there is no update” share it. In the absence of communication employees make up their own stories about what may be going on. This uncertainty exacerbates current worries.

2) Having and communicating a clear vision, strategy, goals

Reinforce the importance of focusing on the key priorities – “what is the one big thing I can focus on today that will have the biggest impact?”

3) Leaders should clarify which decisions employees are able to make and which are beyond their responsibility

What are the decision rights? Are employees able to make decisions up to $100.00 that improve the customer experiences?
To the degree possible, allow employee input and influence on more consequential decisions affecting their part of the business.

4) Continuous feedback to provide employees ongoing guidance and actions they have taken

Establish a cadence for feedback or, better yet, a culture of open real-time feedback so that employees more rapidly learn and are able to put into practice which decisions are within their areas of control and responsibility.

Summary

Front-line workers are the backbone of organizations and often the only touch-point to customers. One bad interaction with a dis-empowered employee who is not allowed to take quick decisions to resolve a customer’s issue has the potential to sour an otherwise positive customer experience. In addition, we tend to remember our last interactions or situations (recency bias) as well as negative experiences more so than positive ones (negativity bias). Organizations should reflect on how they are currently empowering employees and determine if any improvements could be made.

About Denison Consulting:

Denison Consulting, which has its European headquarters in Weinfelden (Switzerland), is a global consulting company that supports organizations through customer-focused, innovative culture change and leadership development solutions. Denison Consulting is one of the world’s leading experts in linking organizational culture, change and leadership with financial results. More information can be found at www.denisonconsultingeurope.com

Director of Operations Europe
Zach Merfert