For managers and HR professional seeking to make their organizations good places to work, a recent article (Seibert, Wang, & Courtright, 2011) provides a compilation of over 30 years of research on employee empowerment.
The study combined over 150 samples of adult workers in organizational settings. It looked at the key factors needed for employees to be intrinsically motivated to perform their jobs well; that is, to be empowered. The research identifies some necessary organizational conditions, as well as other outcomes (correlates) of empowerment, besides for better performance.
WHICH ORGANIZATIONS EMPOWER THEIR EMPLOYEES?
First, organizations that utilize high-performance managerial practices (like open information sharing, decentralization, participative decision-making, extensive training, and contingent compensation) are on the right track to empower their employees. Those companies that provide material, social and psychological support for employees also are. When positive, trustworthy leaders who coach well and provide effective feedback are in charge, and the work is well-designed, the company also empowers its employees.
What about the employees themselves? Empowered employees had more positive self-evaluations, meaning they felt better about themselves. They felt that they were worthy, competent and capable at work. Gender, level of education, length of tenure, or job level did not matter in the analysis.
What about the positive organizational outcomes? When employees felt empowered, not only did they perform better, they were also more innovative. In addition, they reported greater job satisfaction, greater organizational commitment, and performed more organizational citizenship behaviors. They also felt less job strain and were less likely to leave their organizations.
This research also showed that empowerment works for teams in the same ways. Teams managed with high-performance systems, in a supportive manner, with positive leadership, and well-designed work, reported greater team performance.
BOTTOM LINE FOR ORGANIZATIONS
This article provides a roadmap for organizational leaders who want to empower their employees. In turn, organizations will become more effective and more innovative. In today’s business world, empowerment is a must.
Seibert, S.E., Wang, G., and Courtright, S.H. (2011). Antecedents and Consequences of Psychological and Team Empowerment in Organizations: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(5), 981-1003.