Employee morale is vital for a company to succeed and adapt to changing consumer needs. Numerous studies indicate that low morale impacts an individual’s productivity, but what causes low morale? HR leaders and company owners often forget what it’s like to be an employee, but this has devastating effects on your business. Increasing morale in the work environment should be top of your to-do list, and there are steps you can take to boost employee morale.
Employee morale describes the overall outlook, attitude, satisfaction, and confidence that employees feel at work. When employees are positive about their work environment and believe that they can meet their most important career and vocational needs, employee morale is positive or high
Businesses lose millions a year due to staff absences and employee morale is one of the most significant contributors to the problem. Low employee morale can spiral into depression, breakdowns, disengaging and long-term sick leave which impacts your finances and productivity. Creating a positive working environment minimizes staff absences and results in a stronger team.
High employee morale is central to work quality, employee engagement, and how well an individual performs in their role. When we lack motivation, it’s hard to concentrate and contribute to the team effort, which has negative consequences for company operations. If you want to avoid low productivity and high employee turnover rates, you must invest in your employees’ morale.
It’s a fact that productive employees are key to grow your business, so you should put high morale at the top of your priority list
Here are some tips to create a happier working environment for your employees,
1. Value Your Employees
Businesses understand the value of resources such as clients, technology and materials but they fail to recognize their employees are their most valuable resource! Remember, recruiting, inducting and training a new employee takes time and money.
Show your staff you appreciate their hard work with a simple thank-you email. Ten minutes out of your day to send an email could contribute to improving your company morale.
Many companies offer yearly bonuses, or a party to acknowledge their employees. You might not have the finances to reward your team with cash, but a nice thank-you card will show you care.
2. Offer Incentives
Incentives have so many benefits, and can really help to boost your employees’ morale. Consider offering gift certificates for team members that go the extra mile and don’t underestimate the importance of family.
Companies that hold regular family picnics of barbecues have a positive image and build stronger relationships with their employees. There are many incentive ideas that won’t break the bank so don’t be afraid to get creative.
- Provide your employees with the best equipment.
- Mention high-performing employees in your company newsletter.
- Use each employee’s first name to show you recognise them as an individual.
- Be understanding if an employee needs time off for family emergencies.
- Hold a yearly awards ceremony and make it a fun event.
3. Improve the Workplace
Nobody wants to work in a dreary office. Grey walls and dull lighting depress people, not motivate them. Brighten up your workplace with plants, artwork and add some colour to the walls. Green and blue are great shades for offices, as they promote serenity and tranquillity.
It’s difficult to decorate factories or warehouses, but you should still create a calming environment for your employees. Decorate the break room and offer team member’s regular coffee breaks to unwind.
You should also think about letting your employees listen to their iPods, or change the music you play regularly. Listening to the same radio station all day gets incredibly dull, but studies show that listening to music increases productivity. Nobody wants to work in silence, so try to find a balance between focusing on work and background entertainment.
4. Use the 360 Degree Feedback Tool
You can boost workplace morale with 360-degree feedback surveys. The reviews are anonymous feedback forms that team members fill in about each employee, which helps management gain valuable insights into how each employee is impacting the team. If you’re planning on giving positive feedback to an employee, use these great techniques
Instead of focusing on performance, the forms give vital information about an individual’s behaviour, skills and how they’re developing within the company. These forms are excellent for evaluating employee morale and show your team that you care about their development.
5. Communication is Key
Do you communicate with your employees regularly? Do you know about their concerns? What three things would your team like you to introduce within the next year? If you do not listen to your employees, then there’s no chance of boosting company morale.
Hold regular meetings and give your employees a chance to voice their concerns and put forward ideas. Not everyone feels confident enough to speak up, but an anonymous suggestion box gives people the chance to offer their ideas.
6. Offer Competitive Employee Benefits
Every company offers certain benefits, including paid vacation days and sick leave but some go above and beyond for their team. Great leaders recognise that people work harder when they feel valued, and employee benefits show your team you respect them as human beings.
You can offer a range of benefits, such as profit sharing, bonuses and extensive insurance policies. Some businesses even give their team members stock options and offer company vacations. Whatever you decide, employee benefits build a stronger and more dedicated workforce.
In recent years, employers have offered student loan repayment benefits to staff members of all levels. The topic has come into focus recently and future fuel is one of the companies that work to provide financial solutions for businesses and student debt repayment.
7. Review Your Social Responsibility
Studies show that people care about the environment and social issues now more than ever. With so many global issues, businesses should show they value important causes. Do you have a recycling policy? How about cycling to work initiative? If you show that ethics are important to you, your employees will commit themselves to the team more.
Social responsibility gives our lives more meaning and makes us feel like we’re part of something much bigger. Instead of going into work and getting paid, your team members know their actions are helping to improve a range of causes.
Some companies combine fun with charitable giving, which is a fantastic way to boost company morale. Incorporating a costume day and asking your employees to pay $2 to dress up gives them something to look forward to and improves your social image.
If you have the resources, consider offering your employees one day of paid leave each year to volunteer at their favourite charity. It shows you value their interests and will support a range of causes.
8. Give Them a Break
Technology offers many advantages, including the option to work remotely. Many companies no longer need their employees to be on-site every day, so why not give your employees the chance to work from home? People enjoy working from home because it gives them more time with their family and eliminates the stress of the daily commute. If you cannot offer remote working, then consider implementing a flexible work scheme.
Larger companies offer their team corporate memberships to gyms and discounts on leisure activities. Exercise decreases stress levels, so encouraging your employees to keep fit can boost workplace morale.
9. Show Some Loyalty
Working your way up the career ladder was hard, but you did it. It’s likely you achieved your goals through support, development, and opportunities, but do you offer the same to your employees? Nothing affects employee morale like not feeling valued, so make sure your team knows their hard work comes with rewards.
Try wherever you can to promote internally and show your employees that you’re willing to offer them opportunities to develop their careers. Regular training and evaluations make a big difference in employee morale. Nobody wants to feel like they’re working in a dead-end job, or that their hard work is unappreciated.
10. Change Your Leadership Approach
Great leaders don’t rule by fear, they set an example for others to follow. Company owners and senior management can respect their team and listen to their concerns or take an authoritative approach. How would you prefer to be treated? People respond well to positive reinforcement and studies show that using it in the workplace improves employee productivity and self-esteem.
Being the boss doesn’t mean you have to take everything seriously. Employees respond well to a boss that smiles and has a joke with them. Don’t be afraid to let your employees see your lighter side of you, but take responsibility when you need to.
HR means Human Resources, so why do so many management teams treat their workforce like robots? Remember, goals are only achievable if everyone works to achieve them. Treating your employees well and listening to their concerns is vital for company morale. Don’t expect people to work hard for you if they’re not appreciated, or feel you don’t contribute to the team effort.
Note these great leaders and ask yourself how you can emulate them. By making some small changes you can boost employee morale and enjoy a prosperous future.
- "Chicago Tribune"; Improving Employee Morale With Incentives, a Challenge in Tough Economic Times; Wailin Wong; July 2009
- "Construction Today"; Morale Boosters; Tom Ryan
Sibanda Tinotenda is a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt.) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm.