How to empower employees to do the work of their lives

Organizations are going all in on employee experience. A survey by Future Workplace found 83 percent of HR leaders believe that the employee experience is the key to their organization’s success. Investing in modern technology has been a huge priority for company leaders to not only meet the expectations of digital natives entering the workforce, but also to give leaders time back to focus on what matters: their people.

Joan Burke, Chief People Officer for Docusign (which was recently named one of the top 100 best places to work for the third consecutive year by Glassdoor), believes that once you have the modern tech tools in place, the key to a great employee experience lies in creating a culture of empowerment. “We don’t just want to be the best place to work, we want to be the place where people feel empowered to do the work of their lives,” she says.

Here, Burke shares how investing heavily in manager training, embracing failure, and being intentional about measuring empowerment, have been crucial to creating a culture where employees take ownership of their careers and feel comfortable making decisions that push themselves and the company forward.

Invest in your managers

Millennials, perhaps more than other generations, value growth opportunities at work. For Burke, a huge part of helping employees grow is allowing them to fail and learn from their mistakes. “At Docusign, we train managers to empower their employees to take risks (as long as it isn’t catastrophic to the business) and tackle tough problems,” she says.

“We’ve found that when employees trust their managers to support them—even when they fail—they are more likely to innovate and take ownership over their work without waiting to be told what to do,” says Burke. Indeed, research shows that a culture of trust between employees and managers leads to higher job satisfaction, and increased commitment to the work.

Find out what matters to your employees and prioritize it

Hold yourself accountable for whether or not your empowerment initiatives are actually working. At Docusign, every employee self-review form asks the questions, “Are you doing the work of your life?” and “What can we do to help you do the work of your life?”. “You can’t define what empowerment will mean for every employee, but you can use the information from your surveys to ensure employees have the support and tools to define it for themselves” says Burke.

At the end of the day, Burke believes that while everyone is competing for the same talent, companies that encourage empowerment and enable employees to do the work of their lives, will immediately rise above the competition.