The Hidden Benefit of Employee Empowerment
First off...sorry for the BusinessSpeak cliche "empowerment", but it's the quickest way to get the point across...

In searching through my notes for an upcoming seminar on how to boost morale and lower stress, I came across an article from Inside 1to1 - the marketing folks - that had a great reminder of what happens when you enable your employees to:

Feel the thrill of victory, rather than the agony of defeat

Here's a clip from their article...

"After conducting a strategic mapping of customer interactions across touchpoints, FedEx implemented Amdocs Clarify CRM to enable its strategy (Amdocs competes with Convergys and Nortel Networks). By establishing a unified customer profile with customer interaction history and a closed loop problem resolution process, FedEx reduced the number of inbound calls by 89,000 per day. "By empowering customer service representatives to deal with any customer request that comes at them, we made their job easier and better," as well as improved customer satisfaction, Struminger said, "We improved rep attrition by 20 percent."

(if you want to see the only doc I could find of their original article, go to:

What's the Take Away?

Notice this:

"We improved rep attrition by 20 percent."

While their focus was on improving performance, they inadvertently created a great side benefit: reducing the cost of turnover. They did this because by helping their employees become more effective, they tapped into one of the most fundamental human needs:

The Need For Self-Efficacy

One of the most fundamental drives of human beings that affects employee morale and performance is the drive for self-efficacy: the drive to feel and be effective.

When people feel ineffective - when they can't do their jobs well - they become demoralized and disengaged.

Do You Have a "Blackhawk Down" Situation in Your Company?

Dr. Thomas Britt, in his research on special forces soldiers involved in the infamous Blackhawk Down situation, found that it was the most professional and most conscientious individuals who became the most demoralized when higher ups prevented them from doing their jobs well.

This is critical for all managers to appreciate because:

Your most valuable employees are the ones most demoralized by not being able to excel at their jobs because of organizational obstacles

I remember vividly a nurse at a healthcare institution where employees felt disenfranchised telling me:

"I think the people who do their job with the most passion are the most frustrated here."

Thus, if you want to keep morale high - and turnover low - find out from your employees what else you can do to help them:

"Feel the thrill of victory, rather than the agony of defeat."