J. Multidiscip. Res. Healthcare

Employee Empowerment

Preethi Pradhan, T J Kamlanabhan, R D Thulasiraj,and V R Muraleedharan

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employee empowerment, hospital, human resource practices, healthcare human resource management, staffing, motivation, patient satisfaction

PUBLISHER The Author(s) 2014. This article is published with open access at www.chitkara.edu.in/publications

The work done by the human resource in healthcare are the key to bringing about patient healing. As the tasks that each of the different human resource healthcare professionals have to do is quite enormous and varied and differs from patient to patient depending upon their unique needs it is also equally challenging to train the staff. The concept of employee empowerment is therefore extremely critical for staff to do what requires to be done for patients in a timely manner keeping the best interest of the patient in the mind. This article takes a thorough look at this concept as well as how it is measured. Its application is also discussed taking the example of the Aravind Eye Hospital.


Considering that healthcare organisations are service oriented and knowledge based, the human resource that make up the organisation will be likely to play an even more significant role in healthcare organisations than it will in other organisations (Khatri, 2006). Employee empowerment is key for employee satisfaction in the Indian hospital sector has already been well established by John, P et al (2011). An empowered organization should emphasize a “bottom up” management approach or a two-way communication system which allows managers at all levels to make suggestions to a receptive senior management to create the work way (Budhwar and Debrah, 2001).

1.1 understanding what is employee empowerment

In the past organisational researchers focussed their work on empowering management practices including delegation of decision making from higher organisational levels to lower ones and increasing access to information and resources for individuals at the lower levels (Blau and Alba, 1982; Bowen and Lawler, 1992; Mainiero, 1986; Neilsen, 1986). Thomas and Velthouse (1990) stated that empowerment is a multidimensional concept. They defined it after a thorough research as increased task motivation and manifested in a set of four conditions: Meaning, competence, self determination and impact (Spreitzer, G M, 1995).

Meaning is the value of a work goal or purpose, judged in relation to an individual’s own ideal or standards (Thomas and Velthouse, 1990). Meaning involves a fit between the requirements of a work role and beliefs, values, and behaviours (Brief and Nord, 1990; Hackman and Oldham, 1980). Competence or self efficacy is an individual’s belief in his or her capability to perform activities with skill (Gist, 1987). Competence is analogous to agency beliefs, personal mastery, or effort performance expectancy (Bandura, 1989). Self determination is an individual sense of choice in initiating and regulating actions (Deci, Connell and Ryan, 1989). Self determination reflects autonomy in the initiation and continuation of work behaviours and processes; examples are making decisions about work methods, pace and effort (Bell and Straw, 1989; Spector, 1986). Impact is the degree to which an individual can influence strategic, administrative or operating outcomes at work (Ashforth, 1989). The four dimensions combine additively to create an overall construct of psychological empowerment. The lack of any single dimension will deflate, though not completely eliminate, the overall degree of felt empowerment.

Empowerment is thus seen to be not an enduring personality trait generalisable across situations but rather a set of cognitions shaped by work environment (Thomas and Velthouse, 1990). Empowerment, thus reflects the ongoing ebb and flow of people’s perceptions about themselves in relation to their work environments (Bandura, 1989). Empowerment is a continuous variable which means that people can be viewed as more or less empowered rather than empowered or not empowered. Employee empowerment is not a global construct generalisable across life situations and roles but rather, specific to the work domain.

“The act of providing employees at all levels with the authority and responsibility to make decisions on their own” is defined as employee empowerment (Delaney J.T. and Huselid M.A., 1996). These decisions refer to activities which can smoothen their work life and therefore improve customer or patient experience.

Page(s) 53–62
URL http://dspace.chitkara.edu.in/jspui/bitstream/1/574/3/11005_JMRH_Pradhan.pdf
ISSN Print : 2393-8536, Online : 2393-8544
DOI https://doi.org/10.15415/jmrh.2014.11005

Empowerment in addition to all that is mentioned also requires a broad framework that the staff understands. Empowerment is about making a decision when there is no explicit system or rule and acting on it. A broad framework could be “addressing the need of a patient is a priority”. This will need to be considered and factored in as one takes this concept towards implementation.

It is in the patient interest for a healthcare organisation to develop an empowered organisation. In order for this to happen it needs to take place at multiple levels-the individual, team and the organisation. Employee empowerment can be nurtured with the right enabling environment. It is seen to result not only in patient satisfaction but also in increased employee retention. Empowerment becomes a necessity especially for fast tracking the healthcare organisation’s growth.

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