To effectively transform organizations, managers are charged with the role of making sure that employees are fully empowered at the workplace. It is vital to mention that employees who are empowered and involved in the process of running the daily operations of an organization are usually deemed to be very productive. When employees take part in the management of organizational affairs, it is tantamount to democratizing functions at the workplace.
Nonetheless, most organizational theorists are still in a state of bafflement since they have not identified the best models that can be used to implement employee empowerment and participation at the workplace. Although managers mutually agree that effectiveness and performance are improved when employees are empowered, there is still a growing discourse on the major structural issues and elements.
This essay offers a critical and incisive look at some of the pertinent issues that emerge from employee empowerment and participation at the workplace. A brief discussion on how employees can be empowered is also included in the analysis.
Employee empowerment and participation
It is a fact that managers in organizations usually grapple with the desire to derive the most from employees. In other words, the productivity of workers is the most crucial contributing factor towards the success of any business entity. Therefore, this calls for a serious human resource team that can sufficiently select, hire and boost the capacity of employees.
As a matter of fact, the style of functioning adopted by an organization should be largely democratic and participative (Sharma and Gurvinder 7). Nonetheless, employee participation should also be restricted to certain areas of decision making processes because the key management functions cannot be transferred to the subordinates.
The potential of employees can be realized when a well structured decision making process is adopted. Regardless of the technique used, employees should feel empowered and valued before they can add value to an organization. It is vital to recall that empowering employees is also the best approach for motivating the workforce.
Perhaps, it is vital to mention that when duties are delegated to junior employees in the workforce, it amounts to empowerment. However, this should be executed in a structured manner as already mentioned above. In addition, the various levels of an organization are supposed to share information that can aid the smooth running of processes (Sharma and Gurvinder 9).
The ability of an employee to demonstrate commitment at workplace and also feel liberated to carry out certain functions without a lot of restrictions is also part and parcel of the empowerment process. Therefore, employees who are empowered are equally motivated and enhanced to discharge their duties.
From the above views, quite a number of vital perspectives can be discussed. To begin with, a systematic and structured style should be adopted by organizational managers who wish to empower their workforce. This implies that the empowerment efforts can only yield the best outcomes when executed in the right manner.
Second, the empowering efforts and the expected results should be measured or appraised on a regular basis bearing in mind that the process of empowering employees is psychological.
Moreover, managers should be able to differentiate between workplace participation and empowerment because each of these practices requires a different approach in order to attain the best results. They are similar ideologies with different perspectives or approaches altogether.
Although several research perspectives acknowledge the fact a proactive and positive role can be discharged by organizations in empowering employees, there is still lack of a common agreement on how the same can be executed. Most of the past studies have largely focused on basic organizational practices that can empower the workforce (Sharma and Gurvinder 10).
Nonetheless, the basic analyses of employee empowerment have equally gave the way forward on how workers can be empowered and motivated at the place of work. These have been discussed in the following paragraphs.
First, the nature of the supervisory style adopted by the lead management is important in the process of empowering employees. Although employees should be supervised when discharging their roles, it should be noted that the style used can either propel or act as a setback to the progress of an organization. For example, exercising a very high level of control over employees is not necessary.
Managers who are authoritative in their style of leadership may not motivate or empower employees. In other words, autocratic style of leadership is highly likely to yield negativism at workplace. Close supervision of employees should never be encouraged especially when self responsibility among workers is desired. There are few circumstances when close supervision may be required even though it should be limited to specific and well understood cases.
Second, employees should also be rewarded at workplace so that they can gain a sense of belonging and worth. There are myriads of reward systems that can be used by the human resource managers. For example, arbitrary reward allocations that are non contingency can be employed.
Rewards can also be classified as low incentive values. In addition, employees who are not competent enough at workplace can be uniquely rewarded through additional capacity building and training programs. An organization should never be too quick to release an employee from workplace before attempting the various reward systems.
Third, job design at workplace should be made clear to each employee. Clarity of roles to be played by each employee should be vivid in the job description. When an employee clearly understands his or her roles, it becomes rather easy to meet the objectives set by an organization. There are also instances when the job design may require additional technical support and re-training of employees.
Hence, organizational managers should be in a position to identify departments or levels that are poorly performing and consequently discharge corrective measures. It is possible that an employee’s skills can be outdated due to the adoption of new technologies. In such a case, the employee can be empowered by retraining and undergoing periodical technical support.
When goals are being set for each department and also for the entire organization, it is crucial to involve all employees. Goal setting session provides the best opportunity for organizational managers to seek and integrate the input of the entire workforce. In addition, employee participation comes in handy when mutual participation is exercised in goal setting.
There are several instances when managers have come up with unrealistic goals just because the employees were not part and parcel of the process. Needless to say, goals to be adopted by an organization are supposed to be specific in nature. Also, they should be time-bound. Alternatively, they can be classified as short, medium, and long term goals. Moreover, goals should be attainable and meaningful.
Low task variety tends to limit the full empowerment of employees. As much as the job design might be limited to specific tasks or duties, it is highly encouraged for employees to break the boredom by engaging in various tasks. Switching from one department to another, especially when an employee has the requite skills is vital.
Low task variety creates monotony at the workplace and it is also a major de-motivating factor that managers should address at the workplace (Sharma and Gurvinder 9).
Optimum participation in organizational programs is yet another empowering factor for employees. For example, employees should be encouraged to attend workshops, seminars and regular meetings that can directly boost the performance of their duties.
When employees are allowed to take part in most programs pertaining to the growth and development of an organization, they tend to familiarize themselves with the overall objectives and corporate culture of a firm. These are important entities of organizational growth.
Appropriate and necessary resources should also be put in place in order to empower and boost the productivity of workers. It is not possible for employees to remain productive in the absence of necessary factors of production. For instance, the adoption of latest technological platforms and tools is necessary in cases where manual applications are no longer effective.
It is pertinent to mention that competition from other market rivals is rife and therefore, resources should be available so as to manage the stiff market competition. Significant investment in terms of resource allocation to employees is required so that workers can be empowered. Resource allocation can also be considered alongside proper compensation of workers through wages, salaries, and other work-related benefits.
Poor contact between junior employees and the top management is a serious limiting factor when it comes to employee empowerment and participation at the workplace. If employees and senior managers are not in a position communicate and share information regularly, then communication breakdown can take place (Sharma and Gurvinder 10).
Most of the past managerial failures have been attributed to poor communication within organizations. Indeed, operations take place in organizations only after effective communication.
When the entire human resource cannot exchange information freely, it may culminate into serious loss in the productivity of employees. It is actually the sole role of the senior management to create an enabling and safe working environment where employees can contact each other as well as the top management with a lot of ease.
On a final note, the role played by rewards and incentives cannot be ignored in this discussion. In most instances, the first step in employee empowerment is initiating a reward and incentive system. When specific employees perform beyond expectations, they are supposed to be rewarded (Sharma and Gurvinder 12).
Personal competence is reinforced when rewarded based on performance. Furthermore, individuals should be rewarded when they take part in the process of decision making. In particular, the ability to implement such decisions should be considered the epitome of such reward systems in organizations. It is not just adequate to come up with decisions without taking the same decisions to the implementation phase.
In conclusion, it can be seen that the empowerment of employees at the workplace remains as one of the core managerial duties of modern organizations. The marketplace competition is stiff. Therefore, it calls for optimum empowerment and participation of employees at the workplace. In any case, the productivity of employees has a direct proportionality to the overall performance of an organization.
Sharma, Manoj and Kaur, Gurvinder. “Employee Empowerment: A Conceptual Analysis.” Journal of Global Business Issues 2.2 (2008): 7-12. Print.