Personal Finance

Employee involvement that enhances productivity


The concept of workers being given some authority to make decisions over organisational issues and strategies has gained significant traction in management and human resources structures across East Arica.

A growing body of research supports the linkage that employee involvement interventions lead to higher productivity. The studies find consistent relationships between employee involvement practices and higher productivity, better financial performance, greater customer satisfaction, employees working voluntarily longer labour hours, and lower wastage rates with supplies, inventory, etc.

So, how should executives start layering in employee involvement into decision making? Improve the quality-of-work-life.

Employee involvement seeks to increase members’ input into decisions that affect organisation performance and employee well-being. It can be described in terms of four key elements that promote worker involvement.

FIRST, give power. Provide employees with enough authority to make work-related decisions covering various issues, including work methods, customer service, task assignments, performance outcomes, and employee selection. The amount of power afforded employees can vary greatly.

As the manager, you could simply ask staff for input into decisions that managers subsequently make, all the way to managers and workers jointly making decisions together, to employees making decisions entirely themselves. The further you move along the continuum, the greater results you should see in your entity.

SECOND, give information. Timely access to relevant information proves vital to making effective decisions. Firms often withhold information from employees and think of information only provided on a “need-to-know” basis. However, such a view is not helpful and yields poor results.

Organisations can enhance employee involvement by ensuring that the necessary information flows freely to those with decision authority.

Information may include data about operating results, competitive conditions, business plans, new technologies, new work methods, and ideas for organisational improvement.

THIRD, give knowledge and skills. Employee involvement contributes to organisational effectiveness only to the extent that employees have the requisite skills and knowledge to make good decisions.

Organisations can facilitate employee involvement by providing training and development programmes for improving members’ knowledge and skills. Now, do not provide training just for the sake of training.

The knowledge and skills must be directly relevant to employees’ positions and must have clear indicators for success if the training is indeed useful. Such learning can cover an array of expertise having to do with performing tasks, making decisions, solving problems, and understanding how the business operates.

FOURTH, give rewards. Since people generally do those things for which they are recognised, rewards can have a powerful effect on getting people involved in the organisation. However, rewards can often be misused.

Meaningful opportunities for involvement can provide employees with internal rewards, such as feelings of self-worth and accomplishment. External rewards, such as pay and promotions, can reinforce employee involvement when they are linked directly to performance outcomes resulting from decision-making participation.

Armed with the above four tools, proceed to implement employee involvement into his project.

Employee involvement practices, such as participation in workplace decisions, can improve productivity in at least three ways.

Such interventions can improve communication and co-ordination among employees and organisational departments, thus helping to integrate the different jobs or departments that contribute to an overall task. Improved employee motivation comes particularly when they satisfy important individual needs.

Motivation is translated into improved performance when people have the skills and knowledge to perform well and when the technology and work situation allow people to affect productivity. Improved capabilities of employees enable them to perform better.

What type of work environment do you foster as a manager? As an employee, how involved are you at work?

Dr Scott may be reached on [email protected] or on Twitter: @ScottProfessor