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New free online course on Modern Empowerment in the Workplace

A new Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) starts Monday 25 September on FutureLearn. Developed by The Open University Business School (OUBS), Modern Empowerment in the Workplace explores the benefits and dangers of increased empowerment of employees in the 21st Century workplace.

New technology has allowed for new opportunities to empower employees and organisations. It is a time of possibility: with the right technology and support, people can work anytime, anywhere, achieving flexibility and work-life balance. This is a potentially exciting future for empowerment at work, particularly in the age of the gig economy and zero-hours contracts.

There are dangers though that these empowerment strategies could actually disempower people - what happens when technology takes your job? This can lead to greater economic anxiety, work-based stress, fewer rights, and reduced engagement: it is absolutely crucial then to ensure that empowerment is actually empowering.

In the near future, Human Resource (HR) teams therefore need to understand the changing context for employee empowerment, and how to identify and solve related problems, and be able to prepare their organisations for more empowered employees.

Looking even farther ahead, the rise of Artifical Intelligence (AI) and robotics is ushering in a “fourth industrial revolution”. There are already have robots in factories, but what happens when robots enter the traditional office? It is therefore imperative that these “disruptions” increase people’s empowerment at work!

The Department of People and Organisations at OUBS and its new research centre, Research into Employment, Empowerment and Futures (REEF), are looking precisely at these issues for creating a more empowering economy and society in the present and future.

The lead academic for the course, Dr Peter Bloom, is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of People and Organisations, and the co-founder of REEF. Peter explains:

Image of Dr Peter Bloom

How to create more empowered employees is one of the key challenges of both the present and future. Technological advances have offered new opportunities for allowing people to enhance their sense of freedom and control at work – allowing them greater possibilities to set their own schedule and forge their own unique career path.

However, these advances can have a dark side if not managed and implemented correctly. That is why it is absolutely urgent to find ways to ensure that empowerment is truly empowering for people, organisations and society.

Dr Peter Bloom

Modern Empowerment in the Workplace is designed for those currently working in or aspiring to work in HR. During the course, students will develop the insights to realise the benefits of modern empowerment for individuals, organisations and society. It takes place over 4 weeks with a total of 12 hours of learning. There is the option to upgrade the course for £59 to receive a Certificate of Achievement, and unlimited access for even more flexible study.

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