Empowerment and the Shamrock.. #NewToHR

Empowerment – And The Shamrock…

Empowerment makes it possible to analyze certain ‘powers’; such as creativity, commitment, fairness and flexibility within the HR structure. Different understanding of what constitute power leads to a variety of interpretations of empowerment and hence to a range of implications for policies and practices.

Empowerment is about bringing people, who are outside a decision-making process into it.  It is about individuals or corporations being able to maximize opportunities available to them, without or despite the constraints of the HR structure.  This includes receiving access to the intangible decision-making process. The idea of empowerment is increasingly used as a tool for understanding what is needed to change today’s organizational environments.

Handy’s Shamrock Concept is a great way of visualization of three different groups of people.

All clusters are organized, managed and paid differently and individuals have a variety of expectations.


If you look at the first group, the professional core; these people are essential and effective for the performance of an organization. Yet, these individuals have high costs and organizations have the tendencies to reduce numbers, especially in this economy you may not want to be in this group! Although the majority of employees fall into this cluster.

If you take the second group, the contractual fringe; these provide specialist services, like secretaries and temporary help service firms. Usually easy work that requires no previous knowledge and thus individuals are able to do this for less. Although some of these roles are 2nd in command to a CEO/MD!

Then you have the flexible labour force, leaf three; part-time or freelancers, who at the moment are the fastest growing group. (termination is a reason for this!) It was seen as the employment ‘supplier’ and can be of used when there is high demand, like seasonal workers. Yet, nowadays the new entrepreneurs will also fall into this cluster.

The Shamrock concept is still valid as it gives thought to substantial decision-making for HR, in terms of workforce/manpower planning. If you think of what sort of people the core leave requires and what sort of activities and methods will be of used within the core Shamrock concept it is still very functional.

Then there is the transparent — ‘fourth’ leave – even more applicable to today! A customer is doing the ‘work’ for the organization, for example cleaning up trays when finished eating is a form of sub-contracting, unpaid and informal work.

The Shamrock type of organization requires people to be able to jump quickly into new ventures and manage temporary, focused teams as more and more of the work responsibilities will lie outside the traditional ‘work‘ niche. The use of empowerment gives individuals opportunities within the intangible decision-making process, allowing a more direct approach towards self-motivation.

New To HR believes that businesses who apply the empowerment Handy concept will be increasingly more creative, committed by providing equal opportunities for individual development and flexibility.

© New To HR


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