The term “empowerment” (as well as related variations) has become more than a little overused these days, and I was somewhat skeptical when I ran across an article called “The Empowered Employee is Coming: Is The World Ready?” (guest post on Forbes.com blog by J. Hagel, S. Gandhi and G. Rodriguez). However, it turned out to be a long but fascinating and very thoughtful article that has a lot to say about topics related to employee recruitment, employee retention and satisfaction, and employee productivity.
Empowered employees can come in many shapes and sizes, but it appears that they might be evolving from what the article calls the “connected consumer.” This concept has been hugely reshaping how companies market to their customers and prospects. Now it could start affecting how they view and deal with both employees and potential employees, as well as many related aspects of the changing workplace that have already taken place or are coming.
According to the article, although companies are being pressured to maintain and intensify their efforts to reduce costs, it’s a “game in diminishing returns. Each additional increment…is harder and harder to deliver.” It suggests that a critical answer lies in shifting emphasis from cost to value.
This is the proposition that really intrigues me: “Rather than treating employees as cost items that need to be managed wherever possible, why not view them as assets capable of delivering ever increasing value to the marketplace?…There is little, if any, limit to the additional value that people can deliver if given the appropriate tools and skill development.”
Wow! And that’s only a fraction of the ideas presented in this article. I intend to go back and re-read it–and more than once–because it’s a lot to take in at one time. While I don’t have or plan to hire employees, many of my clients have or do, and I know they could find some useful thoughts from the article, so I intend to recommend it whenever and wherever I can!