Employee Empowerment - Unlock Employee Potential

HR & Recruitment
June 30, 2022

According to a Forbes study, 52% of employees leave due to compensation, 43% career  progression and 19% leave because of lack of recognition. Although the first two probably come as no surprise, a lot of leaders fail to understand that recognition plays a huge factor in why employees leave or become toxic to the culture.

However, It’s not just the risk of them leaving that you should consider, it’s the loss of the good stuff too, employee recognition, could be the key to unlocking the full potential of your employees and here’s why.

Natalie Ph.D., Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers, said “employees who feel ‘heard’ by leaders are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work — and an empowered workforce can strengthen and build a more positive company culture.” 

Building up employee engagement through empowerment is not a straightforward process or a one-size fits all approach, you have to remember you are dealing with people and they are complex creatures, and just saying well done every now and again is not going to change anything.

So, what can you do?

Build A Psychologically Safe Culture

What is a psychologically safe culture?

 It is an environment where an employee can feel safe in the knowledge that they can share their opinions, ask for help or even challenge the status quo without fear of negative social consequences. Although this sounds like something that should be a standard within your organisation, in fact only 43% of employees say they feel they are in a positive environment - positive not empowered.

Why is this important? 

Well if you are part of the majority of leaders who fail to provide a supportive culture (around 54%) then your employees will be less motivated, disengaged, likely to be afraid of interpersonal engagements and ultimately will be less likely to contribute, and more likely to leave.

Additionally, your overall company will become less innovative, less disruptive and less productive. Remember your company is your employees, they look after your clients, they bring in the sales, create the products, pretty much everything you do as a company….It is your job as a leader to make them feel safe, valued and involved.

How To Create A Psychologically Safe Culture

Speak, listen, trust

Trust is the key here, you need to make your employees feel that you and other employees around them trust them to do what they do best.

This doesn’t mean that you should just walk away and leave them to their own devices you still have to manage people, but what you can do is allow them to give input treat meetings as a group exercise, let them speak and provide their thoughts, listen to what they say and then if it is possible, trust them to give their idea a go, if it fits within the grand plan.

Just the act of letting them speak, actually listening to them and then trusting in them, will start to show everyone that you are a leader who believes in them and will listen to their ideas.

A huge step in the right direction.

Build recognition and feedback

52.5% of employees want more recognition from their manager, but it’s not just about having a one-way stream of communication, it’s also about creating a feedback loop between leaders and employees, both good and bad feedback.

Building a feedback strategy will not just allow you to congratulate employees on great work done, but will also provide incredibly useful insights into what employees want, what is not working and what toxic elements need to be addressed, in order to create a better, more productive working environment for your employees.

Remove toxicity

A toxic culture is the biggest contributor to your employees leaving you, and if you are not attracting top talent, people can smell a toxic culture a mile away. But it can be quite hard to see it when you are in it, as a leader unless you listen to your employees, you may never see it. 

So what are the signs of a toxic culture?

Minus the obvious one high employee turnover, there are few other signs that could point to a toxic culture, or person.

There are cliques or groups in the office.

There isn’t an issue with people working more with people they like, this is normal behaviour, but when a toxic cliques form, these can become destructive. As they usually separate themselves from others, are filled with drama and tension and often sabotage others so they can appear to be better than others.

Employees are afraid.

This could be in general, a fear to speak up, a fear to provide ideas, or even worse fear of a person, like the boss or another member of the team. Nobody should ever feel afraid to work in your company.

Fear usually stems from the top, in endorsing behaviours that are toxic or worse bullying, i.e crude or rude language toward others, dominant or demeaning behaviour, all of these will ultimately lead to employees not feeling that they are safe or protected.

There’s a fear of failure

It’s great that you’ve now decided to trust your employees to try something new, but they will never succeed if they have a constant fear of failure, in fact 28% of employees state screwing up at work as their biggest workplace fear

This is another indicator of a toxic culture and when we live in a world where innovation can be the deciding factor between a business failing and succeeding, eliminating the fear of failure is incredibly important in creating a psychologically safe environment.


Doing all of these things will not guarantee you a perfect working environment, but empowering your employees, making them feel psychologically safe will provide a positive impact on your turnover, productivity, collaboration and increase the rate at which you can innovate.

Does employer empowerment unlock the key to employee potential? In short yes, although it wont suddenly overnight make everyone top performers, it will allow your workforce to feel that can safely grow., learn and especially when you eliminate the fear of failure, try new things, and you never know one of those new things could become a new strong competitive advantage that sees you dominate your competition.

Always remember your employees are the most important asset you have, look after them and they will look after your business.


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