What methods or steps can be taken to empower employees?
There are any number of steps that can be taken to make employees feel empowered. In general, what needs to be done is to make employees feel that they are valued and that their input is valued. They need to feel that they are important parts of the firm, not just cogs in a machine.
One way to do this is to delegate as much responsibility as possible. When employees have meaningful work delegated to them (so long as the delegation is done in a good way), they are more likely to feel as if they are important. This increases their feeling of empowerment.
Another way to do this is to have an open door policy. What this means is that higher-ups should have a policy in which subordinates are always welcome to come to them with comments and suggestions. This makes the subordinates feel that their input is welcome.
Finally, it is good to give employees as much autonomy as you can. This will make them feel as if they are good workers who do not need to be supervised at every step of the work process.
In all these ways (and more) it is possible to make employees feel more empowered and thereby more motivated.