Questioning Employee Empowerment

“Having an employment” (Greszler, 2014) is one of the obvious prerequisites of being empowered as an employee. How else does one expect to be empowered in that capacity if not at the place of one’s employ?

As such, when Greszler (2014) points out that “the first step toward workplace empowerment is for individuals to have a workplace in which they can become empowered” seems to be rather self-evident on the surface. But expecting someone to place their trust in you, when you couldn’t even keep a job, seems a rather difficult task to fulfil. That is probably one reason why most people in that or similar situation(s), tend to try their hand at self-employment; if I employ myself, I will only have myself to empower and if I am not happy with my job, then I will find ways in which I can make myself happier. Besides, I will be able to implement all my ideas without having to go through five strata of line managers and superiors, any one of whom could take credit for my idea.

What^s more, if the legislator and policymaker is going to regulate everything that requires employee empowerment to occur, then there has to be something wrong with it. Employee empowerment is something that the employer must believe in rather than having his nose rubbed into it; it will be considered to be hindrance, a nuisance, yet another obstacle to overcome. That will only provoke employers to seek and find loopholes. The issue is that if an employee is expected to do everything to keep his/her job, then an employer is also expected to do everything to keep his/her workforce happy so that they will return to the job every single day. Hiring and firing is a power that s/he can wield but it only ends up drawing him/her into the murky waters of reduced productivity and lower profit margins.

It seems to hinge on communication within the organisation to run smoothly; for it also to be audited and maintained at optimal levels to see a regular influx of income amongst other advantages. This has been discussed in my previous post, which is why I shall refrain from delving any further deeper into that aspect of operational efficiency and efficacy here.

The matter at hand is why should any employer indulge in empowering his/her employees and what business-based arguments would realistically keep him/her from micromanaging the employees, operations and keep a very close tab on the proceedings and the profit margins to not let them get too far out of hand?

The author also suggests that “labor laws should be brought up to date, giving employees an individual voice on the job and the opportunity to be paid according to their work.” Whilst it is true that regulations should set down the framework for businesses to pay taxes, it is, in my opinion, none of the policymakers’ or legislators’ business in any way to tell businesses how they should be run. Whilst defending the employees’ rights by adapting labour laws to cater to their needs, the policymaker and/or the legislator tends to overthink and thereby put businesses on the back foot. This, in its own turn, has the adverse effect of forcing them to resort to ways in which they can dodge or otherwise outplay the law or the policy which has been set down by a policymaker who did not care to walk in the businessman’s shoes – or think with his mind.

Points on which I agree with the author are as follows:

– “high marginal tax rates should be reduced and programs that impose disincentives for work should be reformed”; (Ibid)

– “states should ease restrictions and requirements on licensure laws where evidence shows such laws to be unnecessary and harmful” (Ibid)

– “policymakers should look to the successes of less regulated businesses and entrepreneurs as ways to empower existing employers and employees, and should avoid micromanaging employers in ways that will reduce employee empowerment.” (Ibid)

Inasmuch as the policymakers will not micromanage companies and entrepreneurs by imposing policies on them which force empowerment on them – or not, they will notice that the economy will impose practices on organisations, sectors and even itself so as to enable empowerment to be practised across borders of all sorts and shapes. I do not believe in “laisser-faire” management, but in order for empowerment to be implemented, policymakers have to believe in empowering businesses and managements whilst encouraging measures rather than imposing or implementing processes and procedures aimed at herding them into the empowering corner.

If you do take a look at the Eurostat figures pertaining to employment, and their ESSQR, you will notice that the data is quite worrying as it is, and it is only proof of the fact that micromanagement, as implemented by bureaucratic, technocratic and nitpicking policymakers, does not help improve an economy, no matter how big powerful or forward-thinking it may consider itself to be.

Reference:

Greszler.R.,(2014), Employment in the Workplace, Heritage Foundation, available from http://www.heritage.org/research/testimony/2014/06/empowerment-in-the-workplace accessed on 22nd June 2014.

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