How Google, John Lewis and Virgin empower their employees
They empower their employees by being incredibly transparent and providing them with senior level insider information which most companies wouldn’t usually dare to do. According to Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP of People Operations they have a weekly meeting named TGIF (thank god it’s Friday) where they review news and product launches from the past week, they demo upcoming products and celebrate new wins.
They then have the last half an hour of the meeting as an open Q&A where staff can ask anyone, anything and everything. This enables them to have an open stream of honest communication with their employees giving them the power to ask or suggest things that they wouldn’t usually be able to ask.
Firstly, they call all of their employees partners rather than employees. All of their 85,500 permanent staff are Partners who own 50 John Lewis shops across the UK and share in the benefits and profits of a business that puts them first. The Partners are made to feel like their opinion matters right from the start, this empowers them to feel confident that they are valued by senior management and that their voice is heard.
Secondly, they use a system which allows any partner whether they’re stocking a shelf, driving a van or working at the checkout to submit an idea to head office. Stuart Eames the Operational improvement manager at Waitrose explained how they have empowered their employees to contribute to ideas which has saved them £3.5 million! You can read an example of this here.
To get the best ideas, reduce barriers for employees which include: not knowing where to put information, being afraid of objections, thinking is there any point, will anything happen with my idea and will I be rewarded for my idea.
Richard Branson has said “giving people choices, rather than a rigid set of rules to follow, will ensure a feeling of empowerment across teams.” They adopt a flexible working style where employees have control over their work schedule. Employees at their head office have unlimited annual leave, along with flexible work schedules. The idea behind this is that you empower your staff to decide what they deem is the right amount of time to take off for themselves. In return, they will usually be more productive during the time that they are at work.
They also give their employees the freedom to make decisions as this empowers them to do what is right for the customer even if it means breaking company policy sometimes. They tell employees to always use their best judgement, working this way means that they can experiment with the way that they serve their customers and make room for innovation.
“It should go without saying, if the person who works at your company is 100 percent proud of the brand and you give them the tools to do a good job and they are treated well, they’re going to be happy.” Branson told Inc. president and editor-in-chief Eric Schurenberg in an interview. Virgin Media empower their staff to do a good job with Oplift the employee empowerment platform, which gives staff the tools they need to do their job the best way that they can.