I read an article last week on employee empowerment by Annette Franz. She reflected on the merits of employee empowerment and also provided excellent examples of how employers can improve the customer experience by empowering their employees; she sites examples from the likes of Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt and Diamond Resorts, to name a few. Before employers institute ways to improve employee empowerment, however, they need to understand the level of empowerment their employees currently experience. How do employers know if their employees feel empowered? An effective way is to simply ask them.
Employee Empowerment Questionnaire (EEQ)
Twenty years ago (yes, 20 years ago), I developed an Employee Empowerment Questionnaire (EEQ) that includes 8 questions you can use in your employee survey to measure employee empowerment. The EEQ was designed to measure the degree to which employees believe that they have the authority to act on their own to increase quality (my definition of employee empowerment). Employees are asked to indicate "the extent to which you agree or disagree with each of the following statements on a 1 (strongly disagree to) to 5 (strongly agree) scale":
- I am allowed to do almost anything to do a high-quality job.
- I have the authority to correct problems when they occur.
- I am allowed to be creative when I deal with problems at work.
- I do not have to go through a lot of red tape to change things.
- I have a lot of control over how I do my job.
- I do not need to get management's approval before I handle problems.
- I am encouraged to handle job-related problems by myself.
- I can make changes on my job whenever I want.
The EEQ is calculated by averaging the rating across all eight questions. EEQ scores can range from 1 (no empowerment) to 5 (high empowerment). Studies using the EEQ show that it has high reliability (Cronbach's alpha = .85 and .94 in two independent samples) and is related to important organizational variables; using the EEQ, I found that employees who feel empowered at work, compared to their counterparts, report higher job satisfaction and lower intentions to quit.
Using the EEQ for Diagnostic and Prescriptive Purposes
Employers can use the EEQ for diagnostic as well as prescriptive purposes. Comparing different employee groups, employers can identify if there is a general "empowerment problem" in their organization or if it is isolated to specific areas/roles. This simple segmentation exercise can help employers know where they need to pinpoint improvement efforts. For example, in a study of employees working for a federal government agency, I found that employees in supervisory roles reported higher empowerment (Mean EEQ = 3.71) compared to non-supervisors (Mean EEQ = 3.04). For this agency, improvement efforts around empowerment might experience the greatest ROI when focused on employees in non-supervisory roles.
In addition to acting as a diagnostic tool, results of the EEQ can prescribe ways to improve employee empowerment. While these eight questions, taken as a whole, measure one underlying construct, each question's content shows employers how they can empower employees:
- Minimize red tape around change management.
- Allow employees to make mistakes in the name of satisfying customers.
- Reward employees who solve problems without the permission of management.
- Give employees rules of engagement but let them be creative when dealing with unique customer problems.
Employee empowerment remains an important topic of discussion in the world of customer experience management; employee empowerment is predictive of important organizational outcomes like employee job satisfaction and employee loyalty, outcomes that are associated with a better customer experience and increased customer loyalty. The Employee Empowerment Questionnaire (EEQ) allows companies to diagnose their empowerment problem and can help prescribe remedies to improve employee empowerment (e.g., minimizing bureaucratic red tape, allowing for mistakes, rewarding creative problem-solving).
As part of an annual employee survey, the EEQ can provide executives the insights they need to improve employee satisfaction and loyalty and, consequently, customer satisfaction and loyalty. To read more about the development of the Employee Empowerment Questionnaire, click here to download the free article.