10 Pros and Cons of Employee Empowerment

One of the top business buzzwords for more than a decade has been “empowerment.” In general terms, it means that a business gives their employees the authority to make specific decisions about the work they do instead of having a boss tell the employee what needs to be done. It’s seen as a way to encourage more production out of each employee, but all of the pros and cons of employee empowerment must be considered before any changes are implemented.

What Are the Pros of Employee Empowerment?

1. There is generally an improved quality to the completed work.
Employees that are empowered to make their own decisions will locate the resources that are needed to help them get the job done. They’re more invested in what they do because they’re making their own decisions, which also helps to create more investment into the company as a whole as well.

2. Increased productivity can happen.
Because employees aren’t forced to wait for a manager or supervisor to approve their work, they can just move from task to task. There aren’t any artificial roadblocks in the workflow, which ultimately means an opportunity for a business to earn more revenue per employee. Businesses don’t have to pay employees to sit around and wait for an indeterminate amount of time.

3. There is an increased level of employee morale.
Most employees don’t quit a job. They quit a boss. By eliminating many of the tension points in the supervisor/employee relationship through employee empowerment, workers are generally happier about going to work every day. This can even reduce turnover rates because there is a general feeling of satisfaction being experienced.

4. Managers and supervisors have much less stress.
Instead of needing to deal with the day-to-day decisions that need to be made, those with management responsibilities can focus on company strategy, network building, and more of the bigger picture. When this happens, there is a lot less stress placed on these key employees.

What Are the Cons of Employee Empowerment?

1. There is an increased level of business risk.
Unless there is proper training to company standards, employee empowerment can create internal chaos. Because employees are given the authority to make their own decisions, the values or goals of each employee can clash if there is no guidance in place. There must be certain policies and procedures available to guide employee decisions.


2. It takes more time to make important decisions.
When employees have the authority to make their own decisions, it can slow down the need to implement important changes or processes a business may need. Although the actual work environment is stable, quick decisions can’t generally be made even if the team is supervised by a directive leader.

3. There may be decreased efficiency or productivity.
If an employee is given the power to decide how they can work, some employees may decide on any given day that they really just don’t feel like doing much work. The decisions made aren’t uniform any more and there will still be workers doing more than others, creating resentment and ultimately lower productivity because if one person isn’t working and getting away with it, then they’ll do the same.

4. It creates a blurred chain of command.
The problem with employee empowerment is that it may ultimately mean managers and supervisors must take more control over the decisions of their employees instead of less. This is because the management structure becomes streamlined and the chain of command becomes blurred. If something goes wrong, who ends up being at fault?

5. Without great employees, great decisions cannot be made.
Employee empowerment works when people are invested into the big picture a business may have. If there aren’t good people in these positions, then good decisions aren’t going to be made. That’s not necessarily the fault of the employee either – if a person isn’t suited for a certain job they’ve been assigned, then they don’t have the skill set to make the best possible decision.

The pros and cons of employee empowerment can help to create an environment which focuses on positive leadership, personal coaching, and leadership training. It’s an open and transparent working environment. It’s also an environment that some workers may choose to abuse or take advantage of if there aren’t policies and procedures in place to limit those actions.

Is employee empowerment right for you? Think about all of these pros and cons and you’ll be able to make a decision that can lead to greater successes for everyone involved.

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