Steps You Can Take Right Now to Boost Employee Morale
The last few years have seen a meteoric shift in the way employee morale is viewed in the workplace. During the pandemic, with stay-at-home orders turning into work-from-home orders for many employees, issues with isolation and work-related stress and fatigue quickly became apparent.
But when people started returning to the workplace en masse after the pandemic, it also became clear that the landscape had shifted permanently for the workforce. Employees everywhere became acutely aware of their surroundings, their day-to-day activities, and the environments in which they were working.
It’s no surprise then that “the great resignation” soon hit companies across America and the world like a tidal wave. Good enough was no longer, well, good enough. Just providing the basics for employees was not only seen as poor management, but tone deaf in a new world that puts the focus firmly on providing employees with a much healthier (both mental and physical) place to work. The word is out: employees have more say now in their work environment, and if you don’t listen you could lose great staff or have a hard time finding new people.
So, why is Great Employee Morale so Important?
Whether you’re a company of 2 or 2,000, employee morale is fundamental to the success of your business. High morale has myriad benefits to you and your organization, and they include:
- Improved Productivity: You know yourself that when you feel appreciated and are proud of what you’re doing, your work rate is higher.
- Higher Retention: Poor morale leads to a higher turnover of staff, which is costly in many ways. And in this day and age, people have options. They’re not shy about leaving to go to a company that appreciates them more.
- Increased Communication & Collaboration: An organization thrives when communication is good, and relationships are harmonious. Low morale causes employees to clam up, become belligerent or gossipy, and spread their poor attitude like a virus. And remember, sites like Glassdoor have become a magnet for employees who feel poorly treated and want to leave bad reviews for their current company. This can have a huge impact on new hires who don’t want to work in a negative environment.
What’s more, most of the time it doesn’t take a lot of effort or money to create a great workplace for your employees. So, let’s take a look at what you can do, starting today, to ensure that you have the kind of company morale your competitors can only dream of.
Six Steps You Can Take to Boost Morale
There’s no secret to creating a positive work environment with driven and enthusiastic employees. Let’s start with the biggest and easiest step you can take right now to boost morale:
1: Listen to Your Staff
Seriously, it’s that easy. Your employees are more than happy to tell you what they need to feel appreciated and supported by you, and it starts with a simple conversation. As some people are not comfortable opening up to a whole group of people, you may find it easier to conduct one-on-one sessions with some of your key people and managers.
Have an open door policy, a suggestion box, take surveys, accept any kind of criticism with grace and affirmative next steps, and have regular check-ins with your people. You may also want to hire a part-time career counselor or coach who can come in as a neutral third party to listen to grievances and requests.
2: Recognize and Praise Good Work
A positive word is worth more than a free pizza or “Hawaiian shirt day.” Genuine praise for a job well done can really invigorate your staff. Any time you see great work, either from an individual or from the whole company, call it out. Emails, all-hands meetings, and just an informal chat with the team can boost morale for days. Do it often and your people will know they’re appreciated.
3: Walk the Talk with Benefits and Wellness
It’s one thing to tell your staff you care; it’s another to prove it. Obviously, good health benefits are a given but go above and beyond to provide other wellness initiatives that can have a real impact on your staff. Some ideas include:
- Team-building events that are genuinely fun and NOT work related.
- Paid time off for mental health breaks that aren’t counted as vacation/sick days.
- Extended lunch hours one day of the week.
- A wow wall, or wall of fame, recognizing employees and achievements.
- Provide reimbursement for tuition, classes, or other ways to increase your staff’s skill sets. And remember, this benefits you as well.
- Consider meditation and yoga breaks. It’s not everyone’s cuppa tea, but those who practice it swear by its efficacy in handling stress and staying centered.
- Do volunteer days at local charities, including soup kitchens, animal shelters and community gardens. Giving back in this way is very fulfilling.
- A “bring your pet to work” day can be very effective at reducing stress and improving overall morale, even with employees who don’t have pets.
These are just a few suggestions, but please take part in these activities when you can. It’s easy enough to say “we’re all in this together” but by spending quality time with your staff, you’re letting them know how valuable they are to you.
4: Provide Regular Promotions and Solid Career Paths
All too often employers make the mistake of giving out raises and/or promotions when an employee is unhappy or is looking for work elsewhere. By the time that happens it’s usually too late to stop them from leaving, or you’re simply delaying the inevitable.
You want to ensure every employee is working towards a goal, be it a step-up in pay, a new title, or having a team of people beneath them. Tell them what they need to do to achieve these goals and do whatever you can to help them succeed.
5: Share Your Successes
This can be tricky depending on how your company is structured. Profit sharing is rare these days, but there are other ways to share the wealth (even if it’s not actually money in your employees’ bank accounts). If the company has a great month, show the staff your appreciation. It can be a free lunch and the rest of the day off, or gift cards to local restaurants and movie theaters. Get creative in how you show your appreciation for your staff’s efforts to help the company grow and succeed.
Right now, businesses large and small across the US are experiencing record profits. How many of them are sharing that wealth with the workers? Probably not many. Set the example and give your employees another reason to smile and know they work for a great company.
6: Create an Enviable Working Space
Once upon a time, only certain industries had spaces at work that felt like a complete break from the norm. Advertising agencies in particular were great at building out areas to relax, chill out, play foosball, watch TV and grab a free cold drink and a snack.
But times have changed. Now all kinds of businesses have recognized that their staff would like the chance to just escape, both mentally and physically, to take a breather. How large you go on this is up to you, but here are some ways companies have made on-site conditions as comfortable as possible:
- Create a free gym complete with weights, treadmills, exercise bikes (some can actually be used while working), REP bands, medicine balls, and more.
- Install vending machines and, if possible, make them free or subsidized. Caffeinated sodas and energy drinks can also help increase productivity. Including healthy snacks is also a good idea.
- A breakroom, complete with coffee and tea making equipment and coffee & tea supplies, industrial microwaves, and even cold beverage dispensers is a great resource for employees.
- Build a small library complete with sturdy shelving and books that are both work-related and more escapist. Including the latest books on industry-specific topics is a fantastic way to help your staff learn while they’re at work.
- Create an outdoor area for relaxation, eating lunch, having meetings and taking personal calls. This can include all-weather seating, sun shades, a fire pit, picnic tables, benches and more.
You may already have your own ideas based on the suggestions above, and by all means don’t be afraid to ask your employees directly about what you can do to make the workplace a happier one. This all goes back to the very first point, and again, the most important. Listen to your people. Watch them at work, and look for signs of fatigue, burnout, or general dissatisfaction. The sooner you act, the better it will be for all concerned.
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