These Three Companies Realized Empowering Employees Benefits
In our last two articles, we’ve explored five empowering employees benefits and seven of the methods used by Google to reap those benefits. In this article we’ll be exploring further the advantages of employee empowerment by focusing on three other organizations that realized empowering employee’s benefits to ignite sales and drive customer loyalty.
When Paul A. Allaire took the helm at Xerox in 1990, he immediately saw problems with corporate culture and the company’s hierarchical structure. Allaire noted that the functionality driven culture was inhibiting growth. Customer satisfaction scores were suffering, and timely execution was constrained by concentration on data and process.
By the mid-1990s, less than half of Xerox’s employees felt empowered, and there was no link between empowerment strategy and results. There was no shared vision of the future, and managers were reluctant to delegate responsibility. Moreover, profits were falling. Allaire identified the following factors needed to reinstate empowering employee’s benefits across the organization:
- Open and honest communications channels, with more management accessibility
- Workgroups to be given more autonomy, and encouraged to take responsibility and own their work tasks
- Work groups needed to be staffed by people with the needed skills, drawn from across the company
Allaire’s formula for Empowered Work Groups (EWGs) provided forums in which teams could act with speed, creativity, and flexibility. For EWGs to work effectively, Allaire also introduced:
- Training at all levels
- New communication channels to inform employees and seek feedback
- Surveys to dissect EWG performance and monitor employee motivation
- The sharing of best practices across the organization
By the end of the 1990s, Xerox was a leading light in strategies of empowering employees. Benefits included high customer satisfaction scores, greater organizational efficiency, and a culture of trust, respect, ideas sharing, and workplace education.
Today, Xerox is a world leader in document technologies, with a market capitalization of more than $11 billion.
Southwest Airlines has grown profits year-on-year for 20-years. It has the highest passengers per employee number in the industry, and the highest loyalty ratings, too. It also has a culture of employee empowerment. Each employee is made to feel like a person, and when an employee makes a decision the company backs them up.
Sometimes employees make bad decisions, such as when an employee decided that a Hollywood film director, Kevin Smith, was too big to take his seat. A PR gaffe ensued, mostly through social media channels. But the employee was not thrown to the wolves: mistakes happen in truly empowered workplaces.
As Gary Kelly, Southwest CEO acknowledges, “Our people are our single greatest strength and most enduring long-term competitive advantage.”
The numbers certainly back him up and confirm there are plenty of empowering employee’s benefits.
Yum! Brands institutionalized employee empowerment by taking a business decision that might have horrified many other fast food outlets. It took away the responsibility of dealing with dissatisfied customers from managers, and allowed employees a $15 leeway. Rather than giving away free pizzas to the value of $15, though, the company found that its employees took a more responsible approach. Suddenly the onus for profit and customer satisfaction had been placed squarely on the shoulders of employees, and they responded positively.
Free sodas and salads were offered for extra-long wait times, and refund amounts were negotiated down not up. But the extra customer care resulted in increased repeat footfall, and increased revenues and profits.
Over to you…
Reshaping corporate culture and empowering employees is one of the most recognizable ways to increase revenues and decrease costs. The extra responsibility given to employees helps them get closer to the customer, tackle product and process issues more proactively, and increase personal and team productivity. If you would like to know how your organizational culture can be shaped to ignite sales, contact Forward Focus today.