People-first companies want to take the employee experience to the next level. Their goal isn’t just to inspire team members to perform at their best, but also to make their work engaging and fulfilling.
While focusing on engagement boosts motivation and productivity, one-dimensional strategies have limitations. Your people won’t reach their full potential unless you also implement effective employee enablement initiatives. It‘s your responsibility to equip employees with the tools, resources, and guidance they need to do excellent work.
That’s why we’ve created this guide — to clarify what employee enablement is, discuss why it’s so important, and propose the top best practices your business can implement.
What is employee enablement?
As the name suggests, employee enablement is the practice of giving staff the tools, resources, and support they need to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. This involves developing aspects of your organization like:
- Performance management
- Learning and development
- Knowledge banks
- Tools and resources
- Communication and collaboration
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
The main aim of employee enablement should not be output or profit. The underlying idea is that people power your business, so you need to invest in them personally and professionally. That way, you can achieve outstanding results and strengthen your company culture.
Employee enablement vs. employee engagement
Employee enablement and engagement are closely related, making them easy to confuse. Basically, enablement strategies concern the ability for employees to perform their jobs well, whereas engagement focuses on their mental connection with their role and your organization.
However, the processes involved in enablement and engagement often overlap. For instance, you could use a training course to develop your team’s skills and motivate them.
In addition, both enablement and engagement are crucial to the employee experience. When you drive engagement but don’t enable your team, they won’t be able to produce the work they know they’re capable of. This may lead to frustration, lower morale, and ultimately impact engagement levels. On the other hand, disengaged team members likely won’t have the drive to excel professionally, even if they have all the resources they need.
Employee enablement vs. employee empowerment
Another closely related but distinct strategy is employee empowerment. This is the practice of giving your people authority, nurturing their professional instincts, and trusting their expertise.
As with engagement, enablement and empowerment initiatives have some things in common. Giving your team access to all your databases and knowledge resources allows them to perform their jobs well and work more self-sufficiently.
Employee empowerment is just as vital to organizational health as enablement and engagement. It gives your people more autonomy and shows they have a voice in the company’s decision-making processes which in turn improves their morale and job satisfaction. Self-sufficient teams are also more productive.
The importance of people enablement
Focusing on people enablement has a positive impact on organizational culture. Enabling team members means they can work more productively, perform better, and thus feel more satisfied with their jobs. This may be why our 2023 State of People Enablement Report found 89% of employees agree investing in people enablement has benefited their company.
For example, Advertima noticed the following changes after they started using Leapsome:
“Employee satisfaction increased significantly on metrics related to giving and receiving feedback. Employees’ understanding of their own performance has also increased significantly. We have further seen a boost in other employee satisfaction indicators, such as the feeling of being valued and the satisfaction with team and company communication.”
— Nadja Kadeli, People & Culture Manager at Advertima
People enablement may also help you improve retention. In fact, our recent report confirmed that low turnover companies prioritized helping employees find their potential. And retention is important for overall business health as it minimizes hiring and onboarding costs, ensures you keep your top talent around, and maintains high morale.
All these benefits contribute to business success as productive teams and low turnover mean better overall performance, extra revenue, and more resilience in a turbulent economy.
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8 best practices for genuine & effective employee enablement
Now we’ve clarified how employee engagement, enablement, and empowerment differ and interrelate, and we have discussed their value for your organization, let’s explore some top enablement ideas.
1. Determine goals & desired outcomes
Before implementing any of the strategies on this list, consider some overall aims and what you hope to achieve longer term. Every business has unique challenges and will have a different interpretation of success. Your intended outcome might be to raise engagement levels to lower your turnover rate. Or, it could be to increase productivity to generate more profits so you can invest back into your team.
You also need to decide how you’ll measure your progress. Your key performance indicators (KPIs) might include:
- Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) — An engagement metric that quantifies how many people would recommend your company as a great place to work.
- Turnover rate — How many team members resign within a given period.
- Promotion rate — How many employees move laterally or vertically through the company in a certain period (indicating you’ve successfully enabled them and helped them achieve their goals).
- Customer success rate — Check for any significant uptick in ratings or positive reviews.
- Absenteeism rate — How many team members are absent from work within a given period. High amounts would suggest some are disengaged or burned out, likely because they’re trying to perform their jobs without sufficient tools and resources.
Some metrics may be more difficult to quantify than others, like employee productivity and performance. That’s why it’s critical to have a vigorous review system in place. For instance, you can use Leapsome’s Reviews module to create an automated cycle, collect regular feedback on each staff member, and build a clear picture of their progress.
2. Research employee needs
As enablement is about giving your people what they require to excel in their positions, you’ll have to investigate their needs. This could cover a wide range of things, many of which are industry dependent. Here are some ideas:
- Learning and development — For example, what skills do employees need to do their best work? You can map out the steps they need to take with career progression plans.
- Tools — Ideally, teams should work with office equipment and software that facilitates their tasks.
- Resources — There might be gated websites, data banks, coaching platforms, and research hubs your people could benefit from. But this category also extends to more abstract resources like time, money, and extra personnel.
- Roadblocks — As well as considering what you can provide for team members, ask them what obstacles you can remove. For instance, are any bureaucratic roadblocks or outdated processes slowing them down?
One way to collect honest feedback from employees is to conduct anonymous surveys. Leapsome’s Surveys module lets you create custom questionnaires and send them to your entire company while protecting respondents’ identities. You can use the data analytics tool to identify trends within departments and across your organization.
“Employee feedback is one of the main drivers of our overall strategy and decision-making process. We take the findings [from our surveys] and have a strategic planning session off-site for the next year. Then, we dedicate an entire day to what our people are telling us and what they say they need from us… So it’s a real channel for them to have a direct impact on what we choose to focus on.”
— Greg Mahdesian, Communications Director at Servicon
3. Analyze areas for improvement
As well as talking to staff, conduct your own investigations. Compare areas of the company where teams are thriving against areas where they’re not. Then, try to identify which factors contribute to those departments’ lower-than-expected performance.
For example, you might discover your finance team achieves fewer promotions than any other department in the organization. This might lead you to discover they receive the fewest development opportunities.
4. Streamline company processes
Once you’ve collected feedback and identified areas for improvement, you can begin optimizing your processes. Ensure that everyone records the optimal way to perform each task as a standard operating procedure (SOP). These are usually step-by-step written instructions, but you can also embed images, audio, and video. Apps like Loom and Flowster let you record your screen to make doing so more efficient.
5. Develop an open knowledge base
Knowledge sharing can provide instant access to the information your people need and help them perform their jobs more efficiently. So, ensure all your organization’s essential data — including the SOPs mentioned in the section above — are easy for everyone in the company to view and learn from.
Employees benefit not only from comprehensive internal resources but also from collaborative learning. So, allow team members to edit and update your knowledge base with new ideas and processes they come up with while performing their jobs.
6. Empower decision-making
Although SOPs are a helpful resource, they aren’t infallible. Staff will encounter new challenges, and your current ways of working may end up falling short. You can continuously review and update your SOPs, but you’re unlikely to prevent situations like these from happening altogether.
On the bright side, having team members handle unforeseen challenges can be an excellent opportunity for growth and enablement. You can provide them with problem-solving training to boost their confidence and encourage them to rely on the instincts they’ve developed from professional experiences.
That way, people will feel empowered to act autonomously because they know your organization values and trusts them.
7. Foster a culture of open communication
Another way you can enable employees is through discussion and sharing ideas. This helps teams continuously improve by learning from each other. Here are a few examples of ways to encourage honest and constructive communication:
- Have management model the correct type of behavior
- Provide opportunities for anonymous feedback
- Ensure the company acts on feedback immediately and respectfully
- Arrange regular team and 1:1 meetings to discuss issues and progress
- Give staff communications training on topics such as active listening and conflict resolution
“Employees want to feel a sense of control over their own destiny. They want to be engaged in decision-making processes. They don't want to be micromanaged, told what to do, stifled, or thwarted by corporate bureaucracy. In short, they want (and need) to feel like they matter — as colleagues and human beings.
So, in day-to-day interactions, I focus on asking questions more than giving direction, and I’m constantly asking staff what they’re learning and what they think they could be doing better. I don’t pounce on issues and mistakes, but try to treat them as learning opportunities.”
— James Lowry, Founder at Pathwise
8. Continuously measure & improve your strategy
Enabling people is a constant process. As new challenges arise and your business needs change, you’ll have to recalibrate and repeat the steps above. For instance, performance often depends on the tools and resources you use, but software and information repositories can quickly become outdated.
That means you need to establish a continuous cycle of measuring staff performance, identifying employee needs, and developing and carrying out enablement strategies.
Enable your people with Leapsome
Enabled employees are better equipped to contribute to the success of your company and achieve their personal and professional goals. So, enablement sets both you and your people up for success.
Leapsome can be a pivotal part of your enablement strategy. Our platform specializes in a range of people enablement processes, from goal-setting to surveys and development. You can:
- Define, set, and measure your enablement strategy’s objectives with the Goals module.
- Use the Surveys module to uncover what your people need and interpret their responses with powerful data analytics.
- Provide access to an open knowledge base and nurture your team’s problem-solving skills with the Learning module.
Leapsome provides a holistic approach to people enablement. And once you’ve invested in the process, you can keep employees engaged, optimize your workflow, and strengthen your company culture all in one place.
⭐️ Make employees your top priority
Leapsome lets you integrate people processes into every level of your organization, from reviews to goals and development.
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