Creating Employee Empowerment by Saying Yes

Creating Employee Empowerment by Saying Yes

You don’t need a degree in psychology to know that most people enjoy getting what they want. But there’s also definitely something to the act of giving people what they want too.

For a small such a word, “yes” packs quite a punch—especially when it’s delivered by an employer to an employee. Previously, I’ve discussed the virtues of saying “no” and not feeling bad about it when it relates to managing your staff’s workload. On the other hand, if granting more employee requests translates to better results in the long run, then I’m all for it.

Just like its negative counterpart, saying “yes” also requires careful consideration, not just for the individual doing the asking, but for the whole team and the precedence your answer might set. 

Put Employees First

Here’s a news flash: Employees who feel valued are happier and more productive. And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the positive effects this will have on your bottom line. So, let’s talk about how employers and HR staffs can help create a happier and more productive workplace.

Before answering yea or nay to an employee request, here are three important questions employers and HR staff should ask first:

  1. Will it have a negative impact on the work that needs to be done? This is the primary consideration any time an employee has a special request: What effect will saying yes have on conducting company business? That’s why it’s important to understand completely what the employee is requesting and how they see it driving positive results.

For example, if a team member asks for extended lunch breaks two days a week to attend a yoga class, be clear on what’s expected of him to account for the lost hours. Either he’ll need to stays late or come in early to make up the time. In this case, it’s a win-win for both parties, productivity will remain the same or perhaps even increase thanks to your employee’s increased sense of well-being.

  1. Is it a long-term or short-term change? Is your employee asking to work remotely for the day so she can be home for a furniture delivery? Or is she asking to clock in virtually on a more regular basis? It’s likely much easier to grant a request, and do it quickly, when it is a one-time event. However, if the question involves trusting your employees to take their work outside of the office on a regular basis, then it makes sense to take some additional time to consider the consequences of your answer.
  2. Who will it affect? In addition to identifying the short-term versus long-term effects of the request, a supervisor should also give equal consideration to requests that benefit individuals versus entire teams. For example, as an empathetic employer, those requests involving family emergencies can be granted quickly without much additional thought.

Still, even nice bosses have to take into account how saying “yes” will affect the rest of the staff. Will they want the same treatment? Will they resent you if they don’t get it? While you don’t want to rewrite the entire HR manual every time an employee asks for something, it is important to consider how your answers will influence your staff in the future.

Maintaining a Positive Office Culture

As you discover more opportunities to say “yes,” it’s important to follow up on requests you do grant. If the results of saying yes were positive, then perhaps it’s time to make saying “yes” a staple of office protocol, at least on a temporary basis.

For example, if flexible workweeks during the summer result in higher productivity, consider offering flextime more frequently throughout the rest of the year. Or if the occasional “Casual Friday” results in a morale boost, consider offering the perk on a more regular schedule. Shakespeare might have said that clothes make the man, but it’s the people who make your company productive.

“Yes” is a small word, but it can produce big results. What will it do for your bottom line?


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