Did you know that bees are empowered workers? Dr. Michael O’Malley, author of The Wisdom of Bees, notes in his book that “The bees’ highly decentralized form of government allows the workers who are closest to the information to act upon it immediately and make the most informed decisions.” When empowerment is done correctly—in nature as well as in business—it produces an organized, efficient colony of activity and results.
The Ritz-Carlton empowers its employees—over 35,000 Ladies and Gentlemen—and this has resulted in a legacy of legendary service. The idea of empowerment may seem frightening at first, but here are seven clear advantages of employee empowerment:
1) Employees are more accountable
When employees are empowered, they have to accept responsibility. They can no longer claim, “that’s not my job.” They don’t have the luxury of shirking work because they’re autonomous. They have the resources and the authority to step up and take action.
2) Employees are more attentive
Because employees are empowered, they cannot be asleep at their posts. They must be ready and reactive because they are able to make a difference. Empowered employees can even be proactive and recognize when there are small issues that need to be solved. This prevents small issues from turning into big problems.
3) Employees will feel more valued
Empowering your employees shows that they are trusted. Employees who feel valued and trusted tend to be more engaged. Studies suggest that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. Engaged employees are more likely to use discretionary effort—to go above and beyond—to impact the customer experience.
4) Employees will be more invested in work
Empowered employees recognize that their decisions are contributing to the organization’s success and consequently, they care more about their work. Additionally, they can express initiative and creativity without asking permission from a superior, and this allows them to feel a pride of ownership in their work.
5) Problems are resolved faster
According to a survey commissioned by LivePerson, “82% of consumers say the number one factor that leads to a great customer service experience is having their issues resolved quickly.” When employees are not empowered, customers must work their way up the chain of command in order to get their problems resolved. Often times they have to wait while someone in a position of higher authority is located, and sometimes your upset customers must repeat their sad story to several people. Waiting and repetition do not lead to happy customers. Empowered employees can resolve issues immediately—eliminating the need for repetition and waiting.
6) Customers experience better service
As already noted, empowered employees tend to be more engaged, more proactive, more attentive to customers and more invested in their work. Is it any wonder that all of this leads to a better customer experience? When employees enjoy their work, they share that joy with their customers.
7) Organizations are more nimble
Empowered employees are attuned to your organization’s culture and recognize their role as brand ambassadors. Therefore, they care about representing your organization correctly. When your organization needs to make a shift, your empowered employees can help ensure that the change actually happens. Dr. O’Malley explains it this way: “organizations that push decision-making out into the field are more agile and responsive to changing circumstances.”
Organizations that want to embrace employee empowerment may want to begin by creating written empowerment guidelines. It’s also important to offer employees ongoing training so that they’re prepared and capable of resolving any customer issues. Truly empowering employees is granting them freedom to build genuine customer relationships and to create memorable moments for your customers. ∞
Enroll in “Excellence in the Patient Experience” to benchmark the business practices of The Ritz-Carlton and discover how a service excellence culture results in engaged employees and legendary service.