leader empowering employees

7 Ways Senior Leadership Empower Employees & Increase Retention

Part of being satisfied as an employee means having opportunities to grow. Top CEOs know that they didn’t get to where they are without learning opportunities, mentorship, training and promotions. Because of this, they’re willing to ensure those opportunities for their staff.

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Lawrence Bossidy, GE

And providing those opportunities has a statistically significant relationship to happy employees: a 1-star improvement in satisfaction with career opportunities as rated on Glassdoor predicts a 3.1 percent improvement in CEO approval.(1)

Top leaders empower their employees by creating a culture of career growth. Here’s how that looks at a few of the companies on Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEOs list this year:

1. Recruit and motivate with the mission.

“We believe it’s our mission to be the most hospitable company in the world. To deliver on our original founder, our namesake’s, goal is to spread the light and warmth of that hospitality around the world. That is the higher calling, the purpose that we rally our teams around and ask our leaders to be spokes of people for and it sort of starts from there. Recruit, motivate through purpose, give engaging work and make sure that you’re giving feedback and recognition along that work journey. That is really how it manifests itself here at Hilton.” Matthew Schuyler, CHRO, Hilton

2. Improve retention by investing in career development.

“We have a very tenured workforce. One of the drivers of that is our investment in building strong leaders who can have a meaningful career here. We’re teaching our folks how to be leaders across multiple dimensions. We also have many function specific, development programs where folks are learning about personal impact and personal effectiveness as well as leadership and functional skills.” Kirsten Marriner, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer, Clorox

3. Invest in people as your R&D.

“We think of investing in our people as our R&D. We foster ideas about supporting our people at every stage of their careers—providing access to what’s important to them during their life’s journey, like fitness subsidies, continued learning opportunities (through Deloitte University, our professional development facility in Texas), paid family leave, mentorship programs, community opportunities, retirement and pension benefits, and so on.” Cathy Engelbert, CEO, Deloitte

4. Don’t forget to have fun.

“Our founder, the late Jack Taylor, used to ask me, ‘Are you having fun?’ And that element of ‘fun’ in the work we do every day has really stuck. We work hard, but there’s no reason we can’t have a good time doing it. In fact, it helps all of us meet our standard of outstanding customer service – it’s far easier to make other people happy when you’re happy. And while we like to have fun, we also offer a promote-from-within environment and pay for performance.” Pam Nicholson, CEO, Enterprise Holdings

5. Empower innovation for every employee.

“We have a very unique culture here. Innovation is core to how most employees think and everybody owns innovation at Sephora. We’re disruptive. We never stop and we’re very action oriented which is very unique.” Calvin McDonald, CEO, Sephora

6. Hire people not resumes.

“We ask our hiring managers to hire people better than themselves – if they do this then we are making the company better. We don’t weigh experience as heavily as we do passion, drive and raw talent and we can’t rely on a resume to be 100% accurate – in the end you are trying to employ the person and not the piece of resume paper so it’s super important to get off of that sheet and get to know the true candidate.” Brian Bjelde, VP of Human Resources, SpaceX

7. Decentralize decision making.

“Culture is incredibly important to us and I believe it’s our most valuable asset. How decisions get made are the best exemplification of a company’s culture. Decisions at Zillow group are decentralized, meritocratic and census oriented and data driven. We have a shared mission that is well understood by our employees. We have core values that people abide by, and as long as their behavior is driving towards that mission and consistent with our core values they feel empowered to make decisions with minimal executive oversight. It’s pretty decentralized decision making culture by design.” Spencer Rascoff, CEO, Zillow

A spot on Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEOs list is the ultimate validation that you have the support of your people. Unlike other workplace awards, our list is entirely based on employee feedback. So, learn from these great leaders to up your management game and help your own CEO increase his or her chance of securing a spot next year.


(1) Glassdoor Economic Research, What Makes a Great CEO, August 2016