April 14, 2009, Updated September 13, 2012

Productivity increases when workers are empowered, according to the new University of Haifa study.If you want better output from your employees, then let them take charge, according to a new report by Israeli researchers.

The study, which was carried out at the University of Haifa, shows that workers will become more productive when organizations allow their employees to take control.

“Organizational implementation of empowering procedures is a relatively simple adjustment that does not entail significant costs. The benefits, however, are significant,” said Dr. Anat Avrahami-Marom who led the research.

The study, which was supervised by Prof. Aaron Cohen, was set up to examine which factors influence a workers’ performance – both formally (regular obligations based on job definition) and informally (non-work related employee conduct that helps the organization’s functionality and promotes its performance).

Nearly 500 employees took part in the survey. Half of these were certified nurses in the public sector and the other half representatives of a private communications company.

Autonomy leads to performance

The first part of the study measured the workers’ performance on a scale of one to five (one being a low performance level and five a high performance level). The nurses’ performance on the job averaged at 4.01 and their informal conduct averaged at 4.4.

The average work performance at the communications company was 3.65 and the informal performance of those private sector employees was 3.89.

The study found that the more an employee feels that his workplace allows him autonomy, to take on responsibility, and to share organizational information, the more productive he becomes.

The sense of empowerment among the nurses averaged at 3.65, while the average level among the private employees was 2.95.

“The findings of this study show that indications that the private sector is more efficient are not always exact,” said Avrahami-Marom. “In many cases, it is the public sector that can be considered more fair and more empowering, factors that can influence the employees’ effectiveness.”

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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