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Human Resource Development (HRD) is a Powerful Vehicle to Empower Employees



The increased growth of knowledge requires firms to establish flexible organisational potential to correspond to the shifting environments and uphold organisational competence. Augmenting flexibility in the labour market and within firms develops prospects for mobility of employees, which is a major challenge to most organisations as most of these firms lose their best talents. The willingness of employees to work hard and demonstrate a high level of productivity depends on their level of development and empowerment. In this view, Human Resource Development managers strive to retain their best talents through establishing strategies that empower individual employees. The HRD unit within a firm is essential and responsible for establishing favourable conditions for career development, employee involvement, employee recognition and performance, and employee satisfaction. This essay contends that Human Resource Development is a powerful vehicle to empower employees.

Human resource development is essential as it promotes employees’ empowerment. HRD entails the combined utilisation of organisational development, career development and training efforts to enhance group, organisational and individual effectiveness. Human Resource Department is a unit within an organisation that handles development and training of employees. According to Roussel (2011), HRD is the procedure through which organisational management stimulate the motivation of employees to perform productively. Armstrong (2006) defines human resource development as a process concerned with provision of training, learning and development prospects in order to enhance organisational, team and individual performance. In human resource department, employees grow and prosper from learning to utilise the skills of inquiry, logic, problem solving, decision-making and critical thinking. Ferit (2015) asserts that HRD is a lifelong process and a procedure of helping and sharing that prompts employees’ satisfaction and competence. Human resource development facilitates self-discipline, self-direction, and decision-making, focus on immediate problems, employee participation and satisfaction, hence a good vehicle for employees’ empowerment.

Employee empowerment, on the other hand, is giving workers a certain degree of responsibility and autonomy for decision-making concerning their specific organisational activities. It is the process of permitting employees to have control and input over their work as well as the capacity to share ideas and suggestions concerning their organisations and work. According to Besterfield, Michna, Besterfield, Scacre and Urdhwareshe (2011), empowerment refers to an environment where people have the confidence, ability, commitment, autonomy and confidenceto take the ownership and responsibility to enhance the process and initiate the required steps to attain organisational goals and values. Employee empowerment is the management strategy that gives workers the resources and tools needed to make confident decisions in the place of work devoid of supervision.

There is a close relationship between human resource development and employee empowerment. Employees view human resource development as a potential means of attaining personal growth. The training, learning and development prospects provided through human resource development promote the ability, skills, commitment and confidence of employees. According to Martell and Dougherty (1978), the benefits of training, learning and development take place on different levels for both the firm and individual. Effective training and learning can make an employee feel secure and confident in his or her abilities. In addition, effective training and learning lowers dysfunctional incidents such as general dissatisfaction, lateness, turnover, boredom and absenteeism. Empowerment alters the intrinsic motivation of employees (Priyadharshany and Sujatha 2015). Managers wishing to promote innovative, dynamic and creative involvement in the work environment should focus on developing human resources. Once employees sense an apparent managerial concern for their personal well-being and growth, they become more motivated towards attaining organisational goals and values. In this view, human resource development can be seen as a strategy or approach to attain integration amid employees and firms by establishing suitable mutual relationships. Empowerment should be applied with great awareness and skill of the management and not simply as a exhortation to retain satisfaction of employees or to gain a competitive edge. Empowerment calls for front-line employees to be equipped with the abilities and knowledge besides HRD programs and policies that provide workers with the competence, attitudes and skills to perform their jobs independently. Empowerment can only take place where there is trust in the constructive side of human temperament, based on the conviction that human beings are capable of being well meaning and noble. As one would expect, in most organisations particularly service industries, empowerment of employees is compelled by consumer satisfaction that requires employees to take a leadership role. For instance, Federal Express established empowerment into its procedures and systems to attain customer satisfaction (Bose 2004). The company is kept at an exceptional level by empowering its staff to fix problems that may jeopardise customer service. Employee empowerment has to be an ongoing process that calls for constant investment in HRD to update the knowledge and skills of employees besides developing a culture of lifelong learning and constant development. Therefore, human resource development is a powerful vehicle to empower employees.

Human resource development promotes employee involvement and commitment. Commitment and involvement are aspects of employee empowerment. Empowerment entails promoting the commitment and involvement of people in an organisation or team. In the contemporary competitive environment, most firms have developed, implemented, refined, scrutinized and assessed employment improvement and empowerment as a major human resource practice. According to Sahoo (2011) an employee involvement and empowerment firm begins with the idea of strategic fit amid organisation’s structure, rewards, information processes, technology, tasks and people for which all must be aligned to facilitate efficiency in an organisation. Employee involvement results from offering employees the skills needed for shared leadership, problem solving, overall comprehension of business and decision making. With respect to commitment, HRD promotes employee commitment through training and development. Hutchings, Zhu, Cooper, Zhang and Shao (2009) assert that training and development is most efficient in inspiring and retaining high quality employees. According to Chan, Nadler and Hargis (2015), organisational commitment is an accepted upshot of empowerment. A study carried out by Saks (1995) established a link between affective commitment and prospects for development and learning. Employees’ orientation processes, career development, leadership development, and mentoring programs promote the commitment and involvement of employees. Employees are committed to their workplace if they are given the prospect to tackle challenging and important tasks, learn new skills and develop personally.

With respect to the social exchange theory, compassionate actions of managers that empower workers results in employees reciprocating via augmented willingness to remain in their workplace. Sahoo (2011) asserts that commitment is essential in comprehending human motivation and maintenance of systems is a pointer of a learning firm. Employee commitment is mirrored through activating human mind and generating energy besides optimal use of human capital towards increased productivity (Radhakrisha & Raju 2015). Commitment is an essential element of work conducts and behavioural intentions that are shaped through learning, training and development. The employees’ attachment to an organisation is determined by the level of career development and personal growth offered by the organisation. Employees are in a position and ready to take in extra effort in undertaking their roles depending on the level of support that include training and development offered by the organisation. As a result, higher degree of organisational commitment and involvement is linked to increased level of employee training, learning and development.

The major responsibilities of HRD managers are to ensure that the work environment and job matches with the abilities and interests of employees. According to Hansen and Lee (2009), empowerment is implemented through sharing knowledge and information. Opening the books to workers and sharing insightful information with them raises the level of trust, involvement and commitment of employees. Through sharing information and ideas concerning a firm between managers and employees, employees feel part of the firm and increase their commitment. Particularly, training as an element of HRD promotes empowerment as it offers employees with tools such as problem-solving techniques that foster employees’ commitment and involvement. Guest (1997) asserts that empowerment calls for skills and knowledge, which allow workers to assess situations and make suitable choices. Training may contribute to change in attitudes and behaviours. HRD practices create a setting that facilitates employee development that in turn foster involvement and commitment of employees to their workplace. A good example of a company that empowers its employees through HRD practices such as training is McDonalds. Samson and Daft (2012) assert that McDonald’s senior executives hold a commitment to educate their employees. Training of employees aimed at promoting their skills, knowledge, competence commitment, and involvement forms part of McDonald’s philosophy.

Human resource development practices promote autonomy of employees that facilities effective problem solving and decision-making. More so, autonomy allows employees to take ownership and responsibility of their roles in their workplace. According to Gvaramadze (2008), HRD strategies focus on developing autonomous employees. According to Sahoo (2011), autonomy entails the extent of independence, discretion and freedom that employees enjoy pertaining to work assignments. Increased levels of autonomy promote job satisfaction and good performance upshots. Huq (2016) considers autonomy and decision-making as basic elements in employee empowerment. Human resource development process as promoted by mechanisms such as organisational development, training, performance appraisal, career development, rewards and job rotation. Workers are constantly helped to obtain novel competencies through establishment of development prospects, training, assessment of the developmental requirements and feedback (Huq 2016). A HRD climate supports autonomy where employees gain freedom to act independently within the limits of their roles in their workplace (Hawley & Paek 2005). According to Gvaramadze (2008), competence and autonomy are important antecedents to empowerment. This is because employees cannot be in a position to accept the accountability and responsibility for making decisions until they gain skills and autonomy to make the decisions. Skills and autonomy are facilitated through training, learning and development. Training leaders in promoting employee competence, relatedness and autonomy may be beneficial for employees and organisational outcome. Autonomy calls for skills and knowledge. Examples of companies that promote autonomy, an element of employee empowerment, through HRD practices include 3M Company and Hewlett-Packard Inc. According to Andriopoulos and Dawson (2015), workers at 3M are encouraged to learn through taking risks and making mistakes, aspects that promotes their autonomy and individuality. Through this strategy, 3M promotes career development that entails allowing employees to progress through changes until they attain their personal maximum achievement level. Similarly, managers at Hewlett-Packard require their workers to confirm to norms that support autonomy in the workplace. The managers empower employees through feedback, learning, performance appraisal, rewards, training and development.

Human resource development promotes the competence and confidence of employees. Self-confidence and competence are major elements of employee empowerment. A competent and confident employee is an empowered employee. According to Shuck, Tywford, Reio and Shuck (2014), HRD practitioners strive to provide learning prospects that cultivate human expertise in organisations. Equipping employees with extra or novel skills and knowledge is linked to positive organisational upshots (Bakker & Demerouti 2007).Employees feel empowered when their managers encourage facilitative decision-making and express confidence in employees. According to AlQurashi (2015), empowerment entails intrinsic tasks that inspire employees and comprises of self-determination, competence, meaning and impact. AlQurashi (2015) asserts that competence entails a person’s conviction in their ability to perform their job roles skilfully. Jain and Jain (2014) confirm that in the modern highly competitive business environment, HR practitioners must ensure that their practices are designed to provide employees with capabilities, skills and motivation that boost their self-confidence and competence. One way to attain this goal is through implementation of HRD practices that include training, feedback, learning, performance appraisal and career development. Through the HRD practices, employees feel empowered for optimal job satisfaction and performance. Employees’ empowerment facilitates development of a culture that mirrors employee commitment to compete, grow, survive and face workplace challenges with confidence. Competent and confident employees identify more with the objectives of their organisations thereby promoting their commitment. Employees empowered through training, career development and other HRD practices confidently assume different responsibilities and roles in their workplace thereby exerting greater influence at work while enjoying augmented autonomy. According to Jain and Jain (2014), empowerment facilitated through HRD practices leaves employees involved, confident committed, willing to perform their roles responsibly and independently, and in a position to handle adversities. The directive of HRD managers is to establish conditions for work efficiency by ensuring that workers have to access to information, resources and support required to accomplish work. For new employees to gain competence and confidence in their roles, their managers must focus on training them and developing their career. On-job training and constant education of employees are key to employee competency and confidence. As a result, organisations should focus on training, education and career development to raise the competency and confidence of their employees that in turn promotes individual and organisational productivity.


The relationship between human resource development and employee empowerment is evident. Human resource development facilitates empowerment of employees through training, learning and career development. Employee empowerment entails the environment through which people have the confidence, ability, autonomy and commitment to accomplish their job roles and attain organisational goals. Staff development is viewed as a way of empowering employees. Training, constant education and career progression are at the core of most employee development programs. Indeed, these HRD practices remain as major organisational techniques of promoting employee empowerment. The HRD practices reconcile the competencies, confidence, commitment, involvement and autonomy of employees in the workplace. Human resource development managers spend a lot of time on development and training-linked actions aimed at boosting the morale, efficiency, autonomy, skills, commitment and involvement of employees. HRD practices such as training and education enhances job performance besides improving the effectiveness of organisations given that these practices promote autonomy, abilities, confidence, involvement and commitment of employees. Employees are empowered to perform better when organisations focus on promoting their career progression along with enhancing their skills and capabilities. Evidently, human resource development practices should be viewed as effective strategies of empowering employees. The significance of human resource development in the empowerment of employees should not be underestimated. Organisations should learn to focus on HRD practices because they help in empowering employees and the success of every organisation depends on constant employee development. HRD practices contribute to employee empowerment through contributing to loyalty commitment, autonomy, competency, confidence, responsibility and involvement of employees. Therefore, human resource development is a powerful vehicle for empowering employees.

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