Employee empowerment decentralizes some of the decision making from managerial to non-managerial employees. The following study provides information and insight into the effect of employee empowerment programs in the restaurant industry, using the Dynasty Restaurant in Hong Kong as a case study. The study gives an overview of employee empowerment definitions, history, and application. The study also analyses the efficacy of both behavioural and psychological employee empowerment initiatives in the areas of employee well being and organizational performance, and the impact of these on job turnover. The study reviews selected research studies into employee empowerment programs in various industries, including the restaurant industry. The study concludes with several recommendations regarding implementation of employee empowerment programs for future employee empowerment initiatives at other Michelin star restaurants.
A number of empirical research studies that concern the hospitality industry demonstrate a robust positive correlation between employee fulfilment and customer fulfilment (Band 1988; George 1990; Schmitt, 1999). In the hospitality industry, the nature of close contact between employee and customer requires the satisfaction of both parties for the exchange to work. This is especially true in the restaurant business. Rogers, Clow, and Kash (1994, p. 15) found in their investigation that the “increasing job satisfaction among service personnel has the potential of generating higher customer satisfaction”. This reality occurs because in the hospitality industry, the product is somewhat intangible. In the manufacturing industry, for example, the customer purchases a tangible product such as cell phone or vehicle, and the customer is either satisfied or unsatisfied with that purchase. In the restaurant industry however, the product is the service exchange between the customer and the employee. In addition to good food, a clean eating environment, and adherence to the food order itself, the principle product is a competent and agreeable service exchange between the employee and the customer. As a result of this fact, the value of service is determined by the quality of the service exchange between the front-line hospitality employee, in this case the wait staff, and the restaurant customers. For the restaurant segment of the hospitality industry, the product has the quality of “intangibility, nontransferability, and synchronization of production and consumption” (Goeldner, Ritchie, & McIntosh 1999, p. 56). Therefore, the interaction between the restaurant employee and the restaurant customer becomes the key measure of quality and satisfaction. The attitude and conduct of the restaurant employee affect not only the real service value, but also the customer’s perception of service value and fulfilment taken as a whole.
The following study investigates the impact of employee empowerment practices on job satisfaction and employee turnover in the restaurant industry. The researcher uses a case study of the Dynasty Restaurant in the Marriott Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel to conduct the study. The research provides an overview of employee empowerment, including definitions and a brief history. The study also analyses the effectiveness of employee empowerment practices in the areas of well being and organizational performance, using a review of selected research studies into employee empowerment programs in various industries including food services, hospitality, and enterprise. The study offers some insight into the potential implications of employee empowerment programs implementation on cost, restaurant culture, and the hospitality industry. The study concludes with some recommendations as to how employee empowerment practices might be implemented in the restaurant industry, using the Dynasty Restaurant as a case example of these practices at work.
The aim of this research is to analyse how employee empowerment can affect job satisfaction and in turn, the impact of increased job satisfaction on employee turnover, specifically in the restaurant industry. The study uses the employee empowerment practices conducted by the Dynasty Restaurant in the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in Hong Kong as a case study to pursue this research. Recent studies indicate that employee empowerment practices that have been implemented in the restaurant industry contribute towards job satisfaction among restaurant employees and minimize the extent of employee turnover, as employee empowerment increases the employee’s satisfaction with his or her job by improving optimistic employee attitudes and making the role of employees more clear (Gill et al. 2010, p. 9)
- To understand the theories on the two dimensions of employee empowerment, which are the behavioral component and psychological component
- To understand the effects of employee empowerment on the level of job satisfaction on the extent of employee turnover of the chosen organization, the Dynasty Restaurant in the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in Hong Kong
- To investigate how top managers empower their staff to achieve job satisfaction of the Dynasty Restaurant in the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in Hong Kong
- To analyze how employee empowerment influenced the job satisfaction of the staff in the Dynasty Restaurant in the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in Hong Kong
- To evaluate how effective the top managers empower their staff in order to increase the level of job satisfaction in the Dynasty Restaurant in the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in Hong Kong
- To evaluate the impact of employee empowerment on the staff turnover rate of the Dynasty Restaurant in the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in Hong Kong
- To provide suitable recommendations for the Dynasty Restaurant in the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in Hong Kong which will inform other restaurant managers and provide a case example of how employee empowerment practices work in the restaurant employee context
Background of the Study
The concept of employee empowerment has existed since the 1950’s (Maxwell 2005, p. 62). At that time, Eric Trist, a social scientist, organizational development specialist and co-founder of London’s Tavistock Institute for Social Research conducted several experiments in an attempt to put the idea of employee empowerment into practice (Maxwell 2005, p. 63). Trist’s efforts gave birth to the appearance of self-directed working teams; however, the first real manifestation of employee empowerment occurred in 1988 when the Colgate-Palmolive company implemented autonomous teams at its Cambridge, Ohio plant (Maxwell 2005, p. 63). Employee empowerment programs begin to be implemented in earnest in the late 1980s (Sprietzer and Doneson, 2008). As of 2008, according to Sprietzer and Doneson (2008, p. 311), over 70 per cent of organizations in various industries including the hospitality industry use some form of employee empowerment practices and procedures in their day to day operations.
Employee turnover continues to challenge the hospitality industry, particularly in the area of the restaurant business. Employee turnover rates for hourly workers are well known; however, equally high rates of turnover exist among restaurant managers (Bai Ghiselli & La Lopa 2001, p. 28). Turnover is a costly and disruptive affair for any industry, and in the restaurant business, the costs are intensified because of the interruption in productivity caused by the exit of managerial staff. Bai, Ghiselli & La Lopa (2001, p. 28) conducted a study into employee turnover rates in the restaurant industry and found that in some sectors “annual turnover was found to be as high as 80 percent”. In the same study, the researchers discovered that “35 percent of mid-level hotel managers indicated an intent to leave their current position…with fewer than half indicating they would remain in the hospitality industry” (Bai, Ghiselli & La Lopa 2001, p. 28).
The reasons for the consistently high rate of employee turnover in the restaurant industry have been linked to several different factors. In general, hospitality industry researchers point to a correlation between a number of empirical factors. These include the age of the restaurant employee, the duration of the restaurant employee’s term of employment, the type of job or subject matter of the employee’s role, and the level of job satisfaction that the employee encounters on a daily basis (Bai, Ghiselli & La Lopa 2001, p. 29). In addition, several other factors appear to affect employee turnover in the restaurant industry, according to Bai, Ghiselli & La Lopa (2001, p. 29), including the competence level of the individual employee, the education level of the employee, and the opportunity for advancement within the restaurant. Several research studies indicate that age is the single most important variable that affects restaurant employee turnover, specifically, that the younger the restaurant employee, the higher the rate of employee turnover. Bai, Ghiselli & La Lopa (2001, p. 29) found that “young employees have higher turnover rates than do their elders. Similarly, tenure has been found to be inversely related to turnover, in that employees who have been with an employer longer are less likely to leave”.
Another key variable that affects restaurant employee turnover, according to Bai, Ghiselli & La Lopa (2001, p. 29), is the working conditions present in the individual restaurant. The makeup and standard working conditions of businesses in the restaurant segment of the hospitality industry tend to promote employee turnover. Bai, Ghiselli & La Lopa (2001, p. 29) explain that “the food-service industry employs many young workers who tend not to stay with a company long. Almost 60 percent of eating and drinking-place workers are 29 years old or younger…[and] wages in the industry are relatively low”.
Statement of the Problem
China is the country with the largest population in the world, and the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong of the People’s Republic of China houses over 7 million inhabitants (Hong Kong: Special Administrative Region of China, para. 3). According to the Census and Statistics Department of the Government of Hong Kong (2012, para. 1), the “value of total receipts of the restaurants sector was $23.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, up by 7.4 percent over the fourth quarter of 2010. Over the same period, the value of total purchases by restaurants increased by 10.4 percent to $8.7 billion”. With tourism booming all over the world and growing worldwide travel for pleasure, the trade in the Hong Kong hospitality industry is rising fast. In addition, China and Hong Kong represent two of the world’s economies that are fast on the increase compared to other economies. The impact of this growth can be felt in the hospitality industry. Recent years have seen a sudden upward trajectory of growth in the Hong Kong restaurant sector. In the Chinese restaurant sector in Hong Kong, the “total receipts of Chinese restaurants increased by 7.2 percent in value and 1.8 percent in volume” (Hong Kong: Special Administrative Region of China, para. 9; Provisional statistics, para. 4). Positive growth is consistently indicated in the hospitality and tourism industry in Hong Kong. However, despite these rosy figures, employee turnover continues to plague the Hong Kong restaurant industry, both in the managerial and non-managerial levels. The restaurateurs and operators of the hospitality business in Hong Kong therefore encounter a number of operational challenges related to chronically elevated levels of employee turnover as a result of restaurant employee job dissatisfaction, both at the managerial and non-managerial levels.
In the case of the Dynasty Restaurant in the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in Hong Kong, chronic turnover at the managerial level poses a threat to the smooth operation of the restaurant and also has an impact on employee morale at the lower level. In addition, recruiting and training costs remain a drain on the restaurant coffers. The Dynasty Restaurant is a popular destination for Hong Kong natives as well as tourists, and the satisfaction of the restaurant’s managerial staff and service staff plays a key role in this popularity. The researcher understands that as a Michelin star restaurant that still experiences its share of employee turnover, the effects of employee empowerment practices designed and implemented by top management are worthy of investigation and will add to the literature that investigates the success of employee empowerment initiatives in the hospitality industry.
Significance of the Study
The present study seeks to investigate the relationship between employee empowerment, job satisfaction and employee turnover in the Hong Kong restaurant industry, using the Dynasty Restaurant in the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in Hong Kong as the research case. The significance of this research lies in the correlation between the characteristics of the restaurant employee’s job and the opportunities for empowerment that exist within it, both behavioural and psychological. Several studies prove that a key element of employee turnover seems to be the extent to which the employee can make autonomous decisions. Other key factors that will be examined in this study include job description and job content, employee autonomy, the diversity of tasks associated with the job description, the identification of the tasks associated with the job and the level of clarity of each task and managerial feedback.
In addition to the study objectives outlined above, the following research questions will guide the present study:
- To what extent do the restaurant managers influence employee empowerment?
- How do empowered employees differ from non-empowered employees in the restaurant context?
- What are the qualities of the empowered restaurant employee?
- Do empowered employees demonstrate fewer predispositions to turnover?
Definition of Terms
Employment empowerment refers to the system of authorizing non-managerial employees to make choices regarding their jobs or tasks; in essence, employee empowerment confers some of the power typically reserved for management to lower level workers. In a firm that applies employee empowerment programs, non-managerial employees assume some of the responsibility and power of their direct reports. As Swamidass (2000) explains, employee empowerment is “a form of decentralizing managerial responsibility to lower level employees. Empowerment allows the employee to take on responsibility for tasks normally associated with management or staff specialists (p. 183).
Examples of employee empowerment in action include when a firm that operates a large call center urges and assumes that its front line call center agents and representatives will resolve the greater part of the customer service calls on their own, as opposed to escalating the customer’s queries or concerns higher up the chain to management (Krema, 2003; Lagace, 2000). Other examples include decision making in areas that may include purchasing, scheduling, quality control, and process design (Swamidass, 2000).
Chapter 1 provides an overview of employee empowerment, including a brief history and examples of employee empowerment implementation in various industries, including the hospitality industry. This chapter also includes the aims and objectives of the present study, the significance of the study, the background of the study, and the research questions that will guide the researcher’s inquiry. This chapter also includes the definition of the terms that will be used in the study.
Employee empowerment allows firms to accomplish multiple business goals while streamlining the reporting structure. There are several essential purposes of employee empowerment: to save time, cut down on bureaucracy, maintain agility in the business environment, promote employee retention, and improve organizational performance. In the restaurant industry in particular, the implementation of employee empowerment initiatives has demonstrated a positive correlation with employee job satisfaction and employee retention (Bai, Ghiselli & La Lopa 2001; Gill et al. 2010)
Sprietzer and Doneson (2008, p. 311) attribute the explosive growth in employee empowerment programs over the past 15 years to increased competition between firms for market share and talent acquisition. “Faced with competitive demands for lower costs, higher performance, and more flexibility, organizations have increasingly turned to employee empowerment to enhance their performance (Sprietzer and Doneson 2008, p. 311). Employee empowerment initiatives have also shown promise as a means to minimize the disruptive impact of employee turnover, particularly at the managerial level. As Swamidass (2000, p. 183) explains, employee empowerment helps businesses to achieve “zero defects, zero breakdowns, and supplier coordination, which are essential in an agile business environment”. Employee empowerment remains a key player in the implementation of “business process engineering, total quality management, statistical process control, and just-in-time manufacturing” (Swamidass, 2000, p. 183).
Another important purpose of employee empowerment programs is to encourage employee buy-in for change management initiatives (Sprietzer and Doneson 2008, p. 311). Firms often implement employee empowerment programs during organizational change as a means of giving employees agency. As Sprietzer and Doneson (2008, p. 311) explain, “rather than forcing or pushing people to change, [employee] empowerment provides a way of attracting them to want to change because they have ownership in the change process”.
Retention represents another vital function of employee empowerment. Self-managed teams provide an example of employee empowerment that fosters employee retention. When employees witness that the firm values them enough to allow them to assume ownership and responsibility for a project, design, or business goal, they “develop a high level commitment that salary alone cannot buy” (Heskett 2006, para. 6). In essence, employee empowerment programs create buy-in – in the same manner that the CEO endeavours to generate buy-in for his or her initiatives designed to take the firm to a higher level, so too do employees strive to generate buy-in for their personal contributions to business goals. As Heskett (2006, para. 6) explains, “when employees get the sense that they are not appreciated, and only receive negative feedback about their performance, they recoil into their own cocoon, lose interest in their work, and get demoralized”. This state of affairs may lead to a perilous situation from which very few employees live to tell the tale and sets the conditions for endless employee turnover”.
For the restaurant industry, employee empowerment produces the secondary result of expanding the area of control of the managerial staff, since the non-managerial employees essentially manage themselves in several key functions, which is highly desirable for restaurants looking to do more with less. Heskett (2006, para. 6) points to a study conducted at a fast food chain in the United States wherein the company developed a self management program for its entry level employees as a means of addressing its shortage of qualified managerial staff.
Under the self-management initiative, employees were trained and given new technology to enable them to hire, train, and supervise their new colleagues; manage the day-to-day inventory of the store; handle the resulting receipts; and deal with personnel problems themselves under the supervision of a floating manager responsible for several such stores. They received above-market pay, partially in the form of performance incentives. The result? More highly energized workers, better cost control, higher customer satisfaction, and new ideas for organizing work (Heskett 2006, para. 7)
Hostage (1975, p. 99) said that “you cannot make happy guests with unhappy employees”. Employees are one of the most important assets in an organization. The employees are directly involved with the customers; they participate directly with the customer experience, and deliver the service to the customers, so the employees are the first impression of how the customer will perceive the organization. In this regard, the employees are the key marketers. Therefore, the organization should help their staff to achieve job satisfaction through empowerment in order to maintain service quality. According to Harrell & Daim (2010, p. 23), “managers need to make sure they are in tune with their employee’s motivators…Asking employees what motivates them and listening and acting on their responses is very important”. Management is the role responsible for evoking the positive emotions in the working environment and supplying the necessary incentives and motivations for their employees to thrive. Typically, the organization experiences big problems if this issue isn’t handled well, and this is true across all industries and sectors. As Wirtz et al. (2008, p. 4) have stated, the potential to manage employee behaviour, including managerial behaviour and responses to staff, improves service quality. Without this key component, the organization would be exposed to high risk of losing talented employees, and having a negative atmosphere in the workplace if they suffer from chronically high employee turnover rates (Harrell & Daim 2010; Wirtz et al. 2008).
Conger and Kanungo (1988, p. 471) defined employee empowerment as a motivational concept related to self-efficacy. Employee empowerment improves the feeling of self-efficacy of employees, and increases their personal sense of agency. On the other hand, Smith (1997, p. 195) argues that to empower employees is “to give power, to release potential in people, which it is about greater autonomy over how the jobs are done”. Therefore, employee empowerment has its own magic power to help the staff build confidence in the workplace.
Employee empowerment mainly divided into two types: psychological empowerment (Honold 1997, p. 202), and behavioral empowerment (Conger & Kanungo 1988, p. 475). Both of these forms of employee empowerment are often treated as a whole in order for top management to approach the staff. Both components play a role in the achievement of job satisfaction for the staff. The psychological component of employee empowerment has been defined by Spreitzer (1995, p. 1444) as “a motivational construct manifested in four cognitions: meaning, competence, self-determination and impact”. Thus, psychological empowerment means a working environment in which an individual feels confident and understands the importance of his or her role in an organization. Therefore employee empowerment is very important, especially in the service sector, which will bring the top management and the employee closer together, hence creating higher job satisfaction among employees that are psychologically empowered in their roles.
Thomas and Velthouse (1990, p. 666) defined employee empowerment as a form of “internal motivation that can be explained by four perceptive dimensions, which are sense, competence, choice and impact”. Globalization has changed the society’s perception on employee empowerment. Hence, Spreitzer (1995, p. 1444) developed a model differentiating employee empowerment into four dimensions: meaning, competence, self-determination, and impact. Meaning is the main element of the employee empowerment model in Thomas and Velthouse’s (1990, p. 666) definition. The employee’s job descriptions have to be compatible with his or her value system; if this is the case, the employee will be empowered to increase his or her commitment to the chosen organization. Competence can also be known as how much confidence that the employee has in his or her workplace. Without confidence, a staff will not be able to perform well in the organization. Competence and confidence are also directly related to the trust that the employee invests in his or her direct manager. Self-determination occurs when individuals see themselves as the originators of their actions (DeCharms 1968, p. 88). Employees are supposed to follow and obey the higher level of management, and if the employees feel competent and self-determined, this can then be considered as part of employee empowerment. A sense of impact refers to how the employees are able to influence the organization, especially in the decision making process. Employees are empowered if they are able to decide or handle certain roles in the organization without the need for upper management approval.
A study conducted by Bockerman and Ilmakunnas (2009, p. 73) found a significant negative correlation between job satisfaction and the intent to leave in the employees surveyed. If the staff members are satisfied with the elements of their jobs such as salary, promotion opportunities, rewards, working environment, benefits and working hours, they are more likely to stay in the same organization for a longer duration. Szilagyi (1979, p. 42) found that job characteristics, employee relations, and work environment, such as organizational tasks and reward systems are main factors which have impact on the turnover behaviours of employees. The relationship between empowerment and job satisfaction among staff will affect the commitment and turnover intentions of an organization. Many researchers have discovered that employee empowerment initiatives affected the service quality and job satisfaction in a positive manner. As the importance of employees in any organization is that they are able to bring in their knowledge, skills, experiences and thoughts that might benefit the organization, the empowered staff will be more likely to enjoy working in an organization with confidence and trust during the service delivery process. This is in turn will have a positive impact on the customer’s experience, and in the hospitality industry, this leads to key referrals and return customers that represent the core business of any successful restaurant.
Employee job dissatisfaction in the restaurant industry produces organizational performance issue such as a reduced quality of customer service, decreased productivity, and increased labour, recruiting and training costs. For the owners and operators of restaurant in the Hong Kong hospitality industry, the maintenance of satisfied customers depends on the value of the service, which in turn, relies on the level of satisfaction the restaurant employees have toward their roles. Employee job satisfaction therefore relates directly to the retention of customers. It is imperative that restaurateurs develop means to boost the satisfaction levels of their employees, since the satisfied employee is the front line contact with the customer and has a direct impact on the customer’s perception of the service experience.
A number of researchers have argued that the main driver behind the implementation of employee empowerment initiatives stem from the organization’s desire to improve revenue and performance. However, in two separate studies, Greasley et al. (2004, p. 354; 2007, p. 39) demonstrated that employee empowerment programs and practices also delivered results for the employee:
Benefits to the individual employee have also been identified. Employees who consider themselves empowered have reduced conflict and ambiguity in their role, as they are able to control…to a certain extent…their own environment. [This in turn] …reduces emotional strain on the employee. Similarly, it has been suggested that empowered employees have a greater sense of job satisfaction, motivation and organizational loyalty…Empowerment cannot only impact attitudes it can also impact on performance, specifically employee productivity and employee effectiveness.
Employee empowerment positively affects the bottom line. According to Marketing Weekly News (Cornerstone OnDemand white paper 2011, p. 179), research from a 2011 Gallup poll indicates that firms which implement “higher-than-average employee engagement also had 27 percent higher profits, 50 percent higher sales and 50 percent higher customer loyalty”. Research indicates that employee empowerment programs promote employee well being, retention, and organizational performance also.
Research demonstrates that employee empowerment reduced job stress in employees. Employee empowerment “has been found to encourage flexibility and give more control to employees to perform their duties, which in turn, reduces job stress” (Gill et al. 2010, p. 6). Job stress remains a key component that affects employee well being across multiple industries. Gill et al. (2010, p. 6) studied the impact of employee empowerment programs on hospitality workers. Similar to workers in other industries, hospitality workers “are subjected to a dynamic, multinational, multi-lingual, and many times, to unplanned or unforeseen peaks in their working environments, all contributing to higher levels of work related stress” (Gill et al. 2010, p. 4). Based on the employees’ responses to the researchers’ surveys, Gill et al. (2010, p. 9) determined that “the degree of reduction in job stress is associated with the improvement in the degree…empowerment”. Gill et al. (2010, p. 9) also found that the degree of employee empowerment correlated to a reduction in job related stress. Thus, research supports the implementation of employee empowerment programs to promote employee well being and to encourage job satisfaction.
While traditional organizational structures entail management practices and styles that tend to control the behaviors of their employees, Heskett (2006, para. 6) argues that “the organization that will stand the test of time in a volatile business environment will be one that acknowledges the quality of employees and empowers them to take ownership and be held accountable for their functions”. Firms that invest in employee empowerment programs will represent a new breed of companies differentiated as market rulers; their cultures will foster dynamic leaders who demonstrate the ability to “acknowledge and encourage employees to think for themselves and learn from their mistakes” (Heskett 2006, para. 9). Heskett (2006, para. 9) views leading firms as those that conscientiously and continually “invest in improving the quality of learning and thinking…[they] are capable of developing the capacity for reflection and introspection amongst and within teams, encourage team learning, and include the capacity to mobilize their teams around shared visions and values in the understanding of complex business issues”. The primary organizational benefit for firms that choose to decentralize decision making then becomes increased performance and increased agility; decisions take less time, and those closer to the front lines of the business becomes stakeholders in the firm’s success.
In the correction industry, employee empowerment demonstrates utility for corrections officers. Boyer (2008, p. 39) studied the impact of employee empowerment initiatives at an Oklahoma correctional institute. Boyer (2008, p. 39) found that teams of employees were successfully “working on issues and problems related to offender suicide prevention, nurse scheduling, food service, officer uniforms, escapes in community corrections, communications in community corrections, co-occurring treatment disorders, [and] case management”. The employee empowerment programs resulted in the institution being “recognized with a Governor’s Commendation and the Quality Crown Award of Excellence” (Boyer 2008, p. 40).
Cui and Yao (2010, p. 28) empirically analyzed the high rate of employee turnover in small and medium enterprises in China. Talented employees remain the lifeblood of the knowledge economy; thus, the continual employee turnover not only costs these enterprises financially, it also undermines the corporate culture and destabilizes in human capital. Cui and Yao (2010, p. 28) applied “the structure variable and the environment variable influencing the employee turnover tendency, and the employee psychological empowerment” was introduced as the moderating variable. The goal of the study was to investigate the effect of employee empowerment on employee turnover propensity. Cui and Yao (2010, p. 28) found that the test results revealed that employee empowerment has an impact on some of the other variables involved in employee’s decisions to leave the firm. As Cui and Yao (2010, p. 28) explain:
The structure model by the empirical research shows that the fair allocation, the promotion opportunity, the monotonous work, the social internal support, and the exterior work chance are main factors to influence the employee turnover tendency, and the employee psychological empowerment could adjust enterprise employees’ turnover tendency. Finally, this article suggests that enterprises should harmonize the relationship between the leader’s authorization behavior and the employee’s psychological empowerment to create healthy enterprise culture and promote effective talent encouragement.
Romero (2011, p. 186) posits that three essential elements must exist in order for employee empowerment programs to function successfully in organizations. The first is sound governance. Romero (2011, p. 186) believes that the work undertaken by non-managerial employees under the auspices of employee empowerment programs need to well designed and well defined. Firms need to employ sound governance to ensure that the work remains “possible and practical” (Romero 2011, p. 186).
The second element required for successful employee empowerment programs is effort on the part of the firm to provide employees with the “knowledge, skills and competencies required to do the work” (Romero, 2011, p. 186). This means that non-managerial workers need to receive the training and mentoring that they need to excel (Romero 2011, p. 186). Firms interested in applying employee empowerment procedures must also be prepared to change employee roles and functions to find the right fit. “Workers must be prepared, equipped and then tested to determine if they are suitable and fitting to work on a process team” (Romero 2011, p. 186).
The third required for successful employee empowerment programs is the allocation of power and answerability; this represents the most difficult element for most firms, as Romero (2011, p. 186) explains, because “the final dimension of employee empowerment is to get out of the way and let employees do their jobs”. Firms need to trust that their front line employees have the success of the firm in mind as they perform their tasks and make decisions.
The main challenge for employee empowerment programs represents the main reason why many employee empowerment programs do not achieve their intended goals – tradition. As Maxwell (2005, p. 67) explains, “many of the change programs that are implemented in companies…crush employee innovation, motivation and drive rather than stimulating it. Managers love the sound of employee empowerment; but, they are much more accustomed to the traditional command-and-control model”. Employee empowerment needs to be taken literally in order to be of value to the business; it cannot simply be a nice idea. Often management will give lip service to the idea and business benefit of non-managerial employees becoming empowered; however, traditional top-down management structures need to soften in order to make employees truly feel empowered to make decisions on their feet and without the input of a superior. As Bukovinsky et al. (2006, p. 39) explain, “this step is often difficult to achieve, especially when members of management are unwilling to delegate or relinquish some of their decision-making authority”. According to Maxwell (2005, p. 40), two forms of commitment exist in the labour force: internal commitment and external commitment. The former emanates from within the employee; it represents a form of commitment that results when the employee feels connected to and empowered by his or her role (Maxwell 2005, p. 67). Internal commitment is what senior management seeks when it implements an employee empowerment initiative, namely, the involvement of employees “in defining work objectives” (Maxwell 2005, p. 67). External commitment, on the other hand, occurs when employees have no internal sense of commitment to their roles; the job becomes a means to acquire an income, and nothing more. External commitment is “what a manager gets when workers have little or no control over what they do. The result of external commitment is that employees will only do what is expected of them and they will put no effort or passion into their work” (Maxwell 2005, p. 67).
Thus, the triumph of any employee empowerment initiative depends solely on the actual authority vested in employees to handle specific decisions free of management say, which relates directly to confidence and self-determination. In order for these decisions to be made, “management must be willing to allow employees the freedom to make decisions. In many cases, however, management, either correctly or incorrectly, does not have faith in the employees’ decision-making ability. When this happens, the empowerment program is stripped of its very reason for being” (Bukovinsky et al. 2006, p. 39). Micromanagers and faithless managers therefore become the antithesis of employee empowerment. While it is true that empowered employees may sometimes make a decision that is wrong, the same is true of management. As Bukovinsky (2006, p. 39) explains, “employees who are hamstrung by micromanagers cost the company money and also can negatively impact revenues through poor customer service”.
A secondary challenge that some employee empowerment initiatives may face in the labour face is the unwillingness of certain employees to add decision-making to their roles. Byrnes et al. (2002, p. 391) conducted a qualitative study of the effects of employee empowerment programs on government employees. While the participants in this study did value certain element of employee empowerment programs, namely “being given what the participants perceive to be adequate skills and tools [and] …being given what the participants perceive to be sufficient autonomy or independence,” the researchers found that many respondents were less than enthusiastic about the increase in decision making that the programs encouraged (Byrnes et al. 2002, p. 391). As Byrnes et al. (2002, p. 391) explain,
The dimension concerning involvement in agency or office-wide decision making showed mixed results. Long perceived to be a vital component, employee involvement in decision making – and a commitment to increasing it – drives many of the empowerment proposals in the literature…However, some of the study participants placed little if any value on such involvement. Indeed, some participants were openly negative toward it.
Similarly, Chua and Iyengar (2006, p. 72) found that managers in the process of implementing employee empowerment programs at their firms need to take into account the socioeconomic background of their non-managerial employees. Cultural and individual differences in employees affect how employees view choice; some will be motivated by it and use it effectively to make decisions in teams or individually, whereas others will not be imbued with the same sense of agency (Chua and Iyengar 2006, p. 391). As Chua and Iyengar (2006, p. 72) explain, “individuals from lower socioeconomic status may not perceive the provision of choice as critical to their sense of personal agency because their focus is not on expressing uniqueness and control”. This phenomenon relates directly to the importance of meaning discussed earlier in this study (Thomas and Velthouse 1990, p. 666). If the employee originates from a culture value system that does hold individuality or autonomy in high esteem, the employee empowerment programs may actually function as a deterrent to his or her’s performance, and interfere with his or her productivity. In addition, as Chua and Iyengar (2006, p. 72) note, “whereas high socioeconomic status employees may react negatively when denied the opportunity to choose, those from lower socioeconomic status may not care whether or not they get to choose”.
Job satisfaction refers to the individual’s attitude toward the various aspects of their jobs as well as the job in general. High role conflict and low role clarity contribute to low job satisfaction, which can, in turn, lead to increased absenteeism and turnover (Lawler and Porter 1967, p. 20). Morgan et al. (2004, p. 360) found that, “committed employees are 20 percent more productive and 87 percent less likely to leave the job”. In the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, the self-esteem stage is more likely to be achieved when job satisfaction exists, and hence the intentions of employee turnover will be lower. Lee and Mitchell (1994, p. 51) said that there is no standard account for why people choose to leave an organization. However, most of the common reasons that employees choose to leave an organization have a significant relationship with job satisfaction.
This situation also happens in the Dynasty Restaurant, which has been chosen to be used as a model organization in this case study. High employee turnover rates are now becoming a very common phenomenon in the hospitality industry, and the Dynasty Restaurant is not immune to this phenomenon. Therefore, the researcher believes that it is important for the managers to empower their staff, in hence creates job satisfaction and reduce staff turnover. This study will then cover the relationship between empowerment, job satisfaction and turnover retention towards the chosen organization.
Chapter 2 is a comprehensive review of the literature that exists in the area of employee empowerment. The researcher made the effort to demonstrate how many of the benefits and challenges of employee empowerment initiatives essentially remain the same across a number of different industries and sectors. Chapter 2 also discussed the psychological and behavioural elements of employee empowerment practices, as well as the perceived relationship between organizational performance and employee empowerment.
As Johnson and Clark (2006, p. 65) note, “as business and management researchers we need to be aware of the philosophical commitments we make through our choice of research strategy, since this has significant impact not only on what we do but we understand what it is we are investigating”. The study will use the positivism philosophy as an epistemology in this research. Remenyi et al. (1998, p. 32) defined positivism as “working with an observable social reality, and that the end product of such research can be law-like generalisations similar to those produced by the physical and natural scientists”. This philosophy will help the researcher to determine the facts that happened in the society, with the support of data as an assumption of reality (Remenyi et al. 1998, p. 32). Creswell (2002, p. 5) suggests a number of practical criteria in order for the researcher to determine whether the research will be inductive or deductive. Crollis and Hussey (2003, p. 7) defined deduction as the dominant research approach in the natural sciences, where laws present the basis of explanation, allow the anticipation of phenomena, predict their occurrence and therefore permit them to be controlled. This study will use the deductive method as a research approach, because it requires a shorter period for the data collection and analysis to be completed.
For the research strategy, this study will use a survey questionnaire to collect the data from the case study participants – in this instance, the employees of the Dynasty Restaurant. Saunders (2009, p. 66) noted that “surveys are popular as they allow the collection of a large amount of data from a sizeable population in a highly economical way”. With this strategy, the researcher will be able to collect quantitative data, for example by using structured interviews and structured questionnaires. The term multi-method refers to those combinations where more than one data collection technique is used with associated analysis techniques, but this is restricted within either a quantitative or qualitative world view (Tashakkori and Teddlie 2003, p. 43). The quantitative research will be done to critically evaluate how employee empowerment can affect the job satisfaction on turnover extent for the chosen organization. Therefore, this study will use a structured questionnaire as the primary research. For the structured questionnaire, the researcher will design a questionnaire to be distributed to the chosen sample group in order to obtain the views and opinions toward employee empowerment practices and job satisfaction to discern how it influences staff turnover at the chosen organization.
Robson (2002, p. 178) defines case study as “a strategy for doing research which involves an empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using multiple sources of evidence”. It is important for the researcher to find out why, what, and how a situation happened in an organization. Therefore, the case study research strategy will be of particular interest to the researcher who wishes to gain a rich understanding of the context of the research and the processes being enacted (Morris and Wood 1991). The data collection methods used in this research are structured. The structured questionnaires will be targeted towards staff working as the servers, and also in the kitchen of the chosen organization. The questionnaires will be sent to all the staff of the chosen restaurant. The researcher expects to receive 30 copies of the returned questionnaires for data analysing purposes. Data will be collected to analyse how employee empowerment will affect the job satisfaction and the extent of staff turnover rate. Data will then be grouped into tables. Suitable recommendations will be able to be provided by the researcher to achieve the purpose of this study.
Case Study Research Design
The case study research method refers to an explicit example or occurrence that is often designed to epitomize a more universal assumption or theory (Qi 2009, p. 23). The methods applied in a qualitative case study remain for the most part “the methods of disciplining personal and particularized experience” (Qi 2009, p. 25).
A number of disciplines employ the case study research method. As one of the most useful research methods, the case study approach has defined a variety of different studies over many years across a wide array of academic disciplines. The case study research approach, labelled as one of the three approaches to the problem of verification and accumulation of educational knowledge, seeks to understand and interpret the world in terms of its actors and may be finally described as interpretative and subjective (Qi 2009, p. 24).
Case study research can bring us to an understanding of a complex issue or state. It can also extend insight or add context to what is already known through previous research (Qi 2009, p. 24). Case study as a research technique involves the thorough background analysis of a limited number of states, events, and conditions and their associations. In this regard, the qualitative research method combined with the case study research method thoroughly investigates present day relationships in business, and provides the foundation for the treatment of ideas and the application of methods (Qi 2009, p. 23). When the separation between the boundaries and the relationships of the research and the impact of the phenomenon – in this case, employee empowerment, job satisfaction and employee turnover – are not clearly defined, the case study research method helps to clarify the study intent. The qualitative case study is best defined as an “intensive, holistic description and analysis of a single entity…[that] are particularistic, descriptive, and heuristic and rely heavily on inductive reasoning in handling multiple data sources” (Qi 2009, p. 24). The researcher chose the case study research method as a means to “illustrate a decision or set of decisions: why they were taken, how they were implemented, and with what result” (Qi 2009, p. 24). As such, the case study method allows the study researcher to focus on a “bounded system” (Qi 2009, p. 24). In addition, the proximity of the researcher to the nature of the investigation prompts the choice of the case study research method. This fact is especially relevant to the current study. As Qi (2009, p. 25) notes, the case study research method can be a viable research method that allows researchers and readers alike “to understand how ideas and abstract principles can fit together”. One of the distinctive features of the case study approach is its suitability for in depth study. The case study approach supports the investigation of “human systems [that] have a wholeness or integrity to them” (Qi 2009, p. 25). This method supports the aims of the current study in that draws connections between seemingly disparate elements. As Qi (2009, p. 25) explains, “rather than being a loose connection of traits,” the case study method allows deep penetration into a phenomenon that the researcher feels requires close examination.
The case study research method allows the study researcher to ground his or her research in “temporal, geographical, organizational, institutional and other contexts that enable boundaries to be drawn around the case” (Qi 2009, p. 25). The case study approach can be defined by the individuals and groups involved; it can also be organized by the participant responsibility and roles, as they pertain to the case (Qi 2009, p. 25).
Ethical Considerations and Consent
Before the participants decide to join the research, the researcher will distribute a consent letter (Participant Information Sheet). This consent letter will include information about some rules and regulations about participating in this research. The participants will then need to sign an approval form allowing the researcher to utilize this information in the research. At the same time, the researcher may need to grant the confidentiality of the participants on providing this information. Participants are also being informed that the rights of not participating in this research by not replying the consent letter and questionnaire. Additionally, the participants are also allowed to terminate themselves during the research process by contacting the researcher any time through email and phone. However the participants are not allowed to quit the research after the completion of data collection method. Besides that, the consent letter would provide adequate information about the research as well, such as range of questions that will be asked in the questionnaire and risk and benefits of participating in this research, to allow that the participants to consider whether should they take part in this research. No background information of the participants will be exposed before, throughout or after the research.
The study contains no deception, even though a consent letter will be issued to the participants. In this research, there would be no background information needed in order for the researcher to achieve his aim of the research. Therefore, there will be no deception occurring in this case study. The participants would also be informed that the background information will not be obtained to protect the participants.
The study contains no debriefing. The researcher has decided there will be no debriefing process after the completion of research. Data collected will be kept confidential, again to protect the participants of the research. Due to there being no debriefing process, a consent letter will need to inform the participants that the researcher would get permission to use the information for other purposes. This is to ensure that this research will not bear any psychological risk to the participants.
Withdrawal from the Investigation
Participants will be given freedom to withdraw at will. The withdrawal process will be done by the respondents through e-mail information. However, participants are not allowed to withdraw themselves after the completion of the analysis results. Further information about methods of withdrawing will be provided in the consent letter as well.
The data that has been collected will be destroyed or returned to the participant when they decide to quit the research at the half way point. The researcher might post the consent letter and questionnaire form by mail if they request it. If the participants do not wish to participate in this research, they might choose not to reply to the researcher. For the participants that have completed the research, data obtained will be keep anonymous to remove the participants from any risk.
Before the start of the questionnaire, each interviewee will be requested to sign a consent form after reading and agreeing with the conditions. The whole process of interview will be recorded and the information kept in computers accessible by use of password for confidentiality purposes. This would ensure that all intruders are locked out of the whole process. All data collected will also be kept anonymous and confidential. The researcher will also guarantee that the data will be only viewed for exam marking purposes and will not be exposed to the public.
No advice should be offered to the participants to keep the originality of the data Collected and to prevent bias. The research process will be undertaken by professionally trained individuals and any information obtained will be analysed and used for the benefit of the hotel and the staff. The final results and recommendations would be sent back to the concerned authorities within the hotel for implementation.
Participants’ names will not be tied to any data provided. Data for the whole process will be secured under the researcher’s password account to avoid intrusion by hackers. The researcher will guarantee that all the data collected will be only used for this research, and the data will only be kept for 12 months for academic use. It will be destroyed afterward. The researcher will make sure that data will not be exposed to the public.
The questionnaire designed by the researcher will be distributed to all the staff working in the Dynasty Restaurant. This group will serve as the sample of the questionnaire. The total of questionnaire will be distributed are about 60 copies. There will be no age fixed for the sample, as long as they are currently working employees in the chosen organization. However, certain amounts of questionnaire are expected not to be returned, because they might be not interested in this particular research. Therefore, a questionnaire reminder will be distributed to the sample as well if the researcher is unable to get the minimum of 30 copies of returned questionnaire from the sample.
Those collected data will then be analysed to achieve the aim of this study. No payment will be given to the participants, the work is voluntary.
Dynasty Restaurant is one of the finest Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong that is part of the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel. It is a Michelin-star restaurant that is quite popular in Hong Kong. Since the researcher had worked in the restaurant as a server trainee before, it provides a basic understanding for the researcher about how the top management empower their staff in the workplace. Besides, the researcher also found out that the chosen organization as a good model to be studied on how the employee empowerment influences the job satisfaction on the extent of turnover.
The researcher intends to obtain ethical approval from the chosen organization in order to allow the researcher to collect the information from its sample, which are the working staff in the organization. Additionally, this information collected might include some of their staffing strategy. So, the researcher strongly believes it is important to obtain ethical approval from the chosen organization.
The limitations associated with this investigation include the potential for researcher bias, the potential for possible lack of honesty on the part of the study participants, and the risk of inadequate or insufficient data. Due to the study researcher’s personal experience as a former employee of the Dynasty Restaurant, researcher bias will be controlled through the use of phenomenological epoché or bracketing (Sokolowski 2000, p. 58). The honesty of the case study participants is supervised by the use of an informed consent agreement. The informed consent agreement ensures confidentiality through use of security and confidentially protocols, including the witnessing of all participant signatures. Further controls to encourage participant honesty include the fact that all participants in the case study are willing volunteers. Prior to the case study interview each participant will read, acknowledge and sign the agreement with both the researcher and a witness present.
As with all qualitative studies, any and all data gathered through the case study interviews may prove to be inconclusive. The researcher may discover that the data collected from the case study interviews may be insufficient to draw pertinent conclusion or to deduce conclusions that have an important effect. In addition, the conclusions that the study researcher draws may not be sufficient to extend research results beyond the participants in this particular case study. It is the goal of the researcher to collect data which is adequate and expansive enough to determine conclusions that carry weight and that bear up under academic scrutiny. It is also the goal of the study researcher to use the case study participants’ answers to speak to the issue at hand and attend to the research problem under investigation. As a rule, research results acquired through qualitative research designs are not meant to apply outside of the specific parameters of the study and the research questions under investigation by the study researcher (Qi 2009; Tashakkori & Teddlie 1998). The goal of a qualitative research study therefore is not intended to generalize results to large groups of individuals (Qi 2009; Tashakkori & Teddlie 1998). Contextual findings determined within the parameters of the study may be transferable to exterior settings; however, this action of transference will exist only within the specific research parameters and design. These contextual conditions are applicable within the contextual conditions of the exterior setting, providing that the contexts are reasonably similar. In order to facilitate and encourage the action of transferability, the descriptions of the opinions, experiences and observations of the case study participants are collected through the questionnaires.
The case study research method itself allows contains the potential for bias and limitation (Qi 2009; Tashakkori & Teddlie 1998). Those researchers who criticize the case study research method are quick to point out that this methodology often does not extend itself beyond the particulars of an individual group of actors and in a given situation. Critics argue that the case study research method is flawed because “the study of a small number of cases can offer no grounds for establishing reliability or generality of findings” (Qi 2009, p. 23). Other critics of the case study research method argue that the proximity of the researcher will exert partiality upon the findings (Qi 2009, p. 23).
Chapter 3 is a detailed description of the methodology that the researcher used to conduct the study. Chapter 3 contains the case study research design, the limitations of the study, the ethical considerations of the study, and information on the collection and protection of the data gathered for the study.
Results and Discussion
Case Study Description
The chief subject matter of the following case study concerns the impact of employee empowerment practices that have implemented in the Dynasty Restaurant on the employees’ described levels of job satisfaction, specifically as a result of the empowerment initiatives. Employee empowerment initiatives may affect managerial level employees as well as non-managerial and front line restaurant staff. The main employee empowerment issues described in the following case include job satisfaction, role fulfilment, impact of the employee empowerment practices on the rate of employee turnover, and the perception of the employee empowerment practices from managerial level employees as well as non-managerial and front line restaurant staff.
The Dynasty Restaurant has nine waiters, nine superiors, three ushers, eight dish delivers or busboys, four team leaders, one assistant manager, one manager and and four cooks. There are also four part-time workers and four trainees. The Dynasty Restaurant operates four different shifts for the employees, known as A, B, C and D shifts. The Dynasty Restaurant also employs part time workers and trainees on an as-needed basis, typically five or six days per week, depending on restaurant traffic. Normally on weekdays the Dynasty Restaurant can sit 200 guests. On Saturday and Sunday the Dynasty Restaurant can sit 250 guests. The Dynasty Restaurant utilizes the larger tables for larger weekend parties of guests. The restaurant also has six VIP rooms; the superiors typically will take responsibility for these rooms, and one to two part time workers or trainees will assist. The minimum cost for the smallest room is $2000 HKD.
Dynasty Restaurant Employee Empowerment Practices
The manager will empower some of the employees in a number of ways, including taking take care of the bar, meaning to refill the soft drinks, wine, and lemon to the restaurant from the hotel store. Workers are also empowered to take care of the part time workers and the trainees, which means to manage them and oversee their training over the course of the shift. Employees are also empowered to check the restaurant on their own and keep the environment clean every day before they leave the restaurant..
Case Study Results
The total staff of 41 did not participate in the research. In total, the questionnaire was answered by 20 Dynasty Restaurant employees. The following table distinguishes the questionnaire participants by their roles with the Dynasty Restaurant organization.
|TABLE 2: EMPLOYEE EMPOWERMENT QUESTIONNAIRE PARTICIPATION BREAKDOWN|
|Role||Number of Employees with the Dynasty Restaurant currently fulfilling this role||Number of Employees with the Dynasty Restaurant who responded to the questionnaire|
|Part time workers||2||0|
The Dynasty Restaurant employee satisfaction and employee empowerment was investigated by using the questionnaire located in Appendix I. The researcher used a 10 point Likert scale ranging from 1 for Very Dissatisfied to 10 for Very Satisfied. The researcher broke the questionnaire down into four parts. In part one, the questions were related to the meaning measurement of employee empowerment – how the employees gauged their job satisfaction in relation to their value system, including the social status associated with their role at the Dynasty Restaurant. The second part of the questionnaire studied job satisfaction as it related to competence (V5 and V7). In part three, the researcher gathered information on perceptions of self-determination amongst the Dynasty Restaurant employees. In the final section, the impact of the employee empowerment practices at the Dynasty Restaurant was measured. The researcher also compiled selected demographic data on the Dynasty Restaurant employees, specifically age, level of education and gender. The researcher tested the scale validation by employing Cronbach alpha. Internal reliability was calculated at 0.86, which is greater that Nunnally’s (1976, p. 211) threshold of 0.70. The means and standard deviations of the variables tested can be found in Table 2. The data show that the variable mean scores are between 5 and 7. The standard deviations are minimal. This indicates that most of the employees have estimating scores in the middle. The researcher took note of the variables which rated the highest in the dissatisfaction score. The variables in which the Dynasty Restaurant employees are most dissatisfied include: satisfaction with current level of employee benefits from the Dynasty Restaurant organization, variable 7 (M=5.01); and Satisfaction with Employee Empowerment, variable 16 (M = 5.20). The results indicate minimal employee satisfaction in regards to the financial and self-determining elements of their roles with the Dynasty Restaurant organization. The employees were most happy with the atmosphere of the Dynasty Restaurant, variable 3 (M = 7.55), and the challenge of the job, variable 11 (M = 7.10). Results indicate that employees enjoy the challenge of working at the Dynasty Restaurant.
|TABLE 2: MEAN AND STANDARD DEVIATION OF EACH VARIABLE|
|Influence power of the Dynasty Restaurant in the area (V1)||7.07||1.54|
|Popularity of the Dynasty Restaurant V2)||6.48||1.61|
|Satisfaction with physical surroundings and atmosphere of the Dynasty Restaurant (V3)||7.55||1.65|
|Social identification of your role with the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V4)||6.46||1.55|
|Level of job satisfaction (V5)||6.09||1.74|
|Fulfillment with social status in regards to your role with the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V6)||2.16||5.35|
|Satisfaction with current level of employee benefits from the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V7)||2.08||5.01|
|Level of contentment with spiritual incentive of your role with the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V8)||5.33||1.87|
|Level of satisfaction with promotion opportunities within the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V9)||6.43||1.65|
|Contentment with current compensation level at the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V10)||5.87||1.67|
|Challenge of your role with the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V11)||7.10||1.53|
|Importance of your role with the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V12)||6.77||1.46|
|Corresponding amount of responsibility and remuneration or incentive within your role with the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V13)||6.50||1.35|
|Level of satisfaction with the organizational culture of the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V14)||5.91||1.66|
|Satisfaction with leadership style of management of the Dynasty Restaurant organization (V15)||5.79||2.07|
|Degree of satisfaction with employee empowerment (V16)||5.20||2.40|
Conclusions and Recommendations
In order for an employee empowerment initiative to take flight truly at the Dynasty Restaurant organization, training will need to be conducted in both managerial and non-managerial levels. Managers will require the training necessary to support them as they relinquish the traditional top-down management reporting structure and chain of command. Managers will especially need to be reassured that the decentralization that occurs in employee empowerment programs by no means reflects poor performance, demotion, or the threat of reduced compensation. Leadership styles of existing managers and management teams may not initially support employee empowerment programs. This is particularly true of autocratic or authoritarian type leaders who will have grown accustomed to centralized decision making.
Communication styles for both managerial and non-managerial staff will also need to be adjusted in some cases during the implementation stage. Training in leadership styles that are more conducive to employee empowerment programs such as authentic leadership styles and democratic leadership styles will need to be implemented.
Managerial staff must trust employees and demonstrate this trust on a regular basis. Employee communication is one of the prime indicators of healthy employee empowerment in an organization. Managers need to deliver their directives in a clear and comprehensive manner to trainees, part time workers, and employees newly appointed to decision making roles in the bar or VIP rooms.
Employees at the Dynasty Restaurant who are not accustomed to decision making roles will require support as they find their voice and authority and take ownership of their tasks. Communication styles that need to be managed may include mumbling, avoiding eye contact, communicating exclusively through electronic networks in order to avoid face to face communication, and ineffective instruction.
Non-managerial employees will require training in order to take ownership of their work and make decisions independent of their manager. Non-managerial employees will need to be assured that taking initiative in decision-making will not result in punitive action on the part of their direct managers or the Dynasty Restaurant brass. Coaching and mentoring for non-managerial employees new to decision-making will also be necessary.
In essence, employee empowerment reflects the changes taking place across society with the advent of globalization, the Information Age, and the rise of user-generated social networks (Pelit, Ozturk & Arslanturk 2011, p. 784). As Gill (2010, p. 8) suggests, “restaurant managers should foster upward, not just downward, communication, provide regular on-floor training and coaching, practice effective listening skills, demonstrate respect and concern for employees’ personal feelings and work to recognize and overcome communication and cultural barriers”. Empowerment plays a key part in improving employee job satisfaction. Job satisfaction begins when staff develops the sense that they have control over their roles. Front-line restaurant workers require control over their jobs to deal with the service related issues that arise continually in the hospitality industry, such as customer complaints, mistake in food orders, tardy service, and technical problems with payment methods. The researcher recommends that the management of the Dynasty Restaurant clarify the mission, goals, and business aims of the upper management before they implement more empowerment initiatives.
Restaurant management should develop trust in employees, provide clear and concise direction, and support employees in decision making. It is also recommended that the managers find out the level of interest the employee has in empowerment before assigning him or her empowered duties.
Chapter 5 includes a series of recommendations as to how to implement employee empowerment practices in organizations, including hospitality organizations, as well as some key challenges that may arise during the implementation phase. Chapter 5 also concludes the study with an overview of what the researcher learned while conducting the study, including the importance of participation and communication.
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Employee Empowerment Research Questionnaire
|Question||Very Dissatisfied||Dissatisfied||Neutral||Satisfied||Very Satisfied|
|My job and my job description are aligned to what I personally value|
|The work I do contributes to the company meaningfully|
|My commitment to the company has increased since I was hired in|
|I am confident in the ability of the company to navigate the competitive landscape|
|I have confidence in my direct manager|
|I trust that my company uses employee feedback to make change for the better.|
|I have the support and I have been given enough authority to make the decisions I need to complete my work|
|I originate my own actions in my role|
|I see myself in my role|
|Question||Very Dissatisfied||Dissatisfied||Neutral||Satisfied||Very Satisfied|
|I am able to feel a sense of accomplishment in my job / assigned tasks|
|The decisions I make influence the direction of the company|
|My role allows me to handle certain situations using my own judgment|
|My direct manager encourages me to make decisions without needing to inform him or her|