What is employee morale? Well, morale can be defined as a combination of motivation, self-esteem, and enthusiasm to complete a task (and complete it well!). Or it can simply mean a sense of get-up-and-go. It all depends on who you ask, really.
But whatever the definition, it’s well-known that morale plays an important role in workplace productivity and happiness. And this means that it’s also an important factor for achieving positive ROI and low employee turnover.
So what you probably want to know is, how do you boost employee morale? Well, you came to the right place, because we’ve got some compelling employee morale ideas!
How to Boost Employee Morale in 6 Simple Steps
It doesn’t really matter how you improve employee morale, as long as you improve it, right? Not exactly.
Businesses often try to improve morale with surface-level extrinsic motivators, like bonuses and salary increases. Yes, cash-dollar always seems a sure way to motivate performance and can be effective in the short-term. But it just isn’t possible to keep employee morale soaring over time without tapping into what really makes your employees tick.
So we’re going to take a deeper dive and look at a few easy ways for building employee morale in the long-run.
1. Make work meaningful
Every business starts with a vision in mind, something that will impact the world in a tangible way. Sadly, this vision often gets blurred in “everyday practicalities” as the organization starts to grow. The urgency of emails, training, sales targets all make it easier to live for today and leave reflection for tomorrow.
So, to start improving employee morale, return to the foundations of your vision. Ask yourself why the business exists, and how does the work of employees influence this purpose?
Then, take the time to communicate this to the employees themselves. Emphasize the importance of their work as individuals and teams through inspirational materials, like short videos. Understanding the meaning behind their work, and relating to that meaning, is bound to improve employee morale and motivation.
2. Be authentically caring
Who doesn’t love receiving a small gift on their birthday, or a bunch of flowers before going on maternity leave? These relatively inexpensive demonstrations of genuine care can go a long way toward making employees feel connected to their team and the organization, and generally happier in the organization.
Just make sure to personalize these acts of kindness with a written card or similar gesture. A generic approach comes off as inauthentic, and won’t be as effective at boosting employee morale.
3. Give praise where praise is due
One of the greatest risks to employee morale and productivity is overlooking good work. After all, we all love a bit of recognition now and again.
Whether an employee is rarely exceptional, or consistently providing high-quality work, it’s always worth praising. In fact, regular positive feedback and public recognition may just be the key to unlocking exceptional performance and improving employee morale.
4. Create safe spaces for ideas to flourish
Routine and constraining rules can make work boring. And bored employees are almost never engaged. That’s why one of the cornerstones of long-lasting employee morale is giving your staff a voice and real opportunities to impact the organization.
Some organizations increase staff confidence and enthusiasm by providing them with a simple suggestion box or inviting feedback about changes within the organization via email. Others take things a little further by providing employees with a percentage of paid time (e.g. 5 days a year) to experiment with new ideas. Often these opportunities lead to profitable product innovations and more impactful processes.
Whichever approach you choose, make sure that employees feel that their ideas are valued by the organization and supported by their managers, and you’ll see their morale soar.
5. Forge strong bonds
We’re social creatures, and we need to feel that we’re “with our tribe” in order to function at our best. Human connection and healthy communication among teams can sustain employee morale and motivation much more effectively than extrinsic motivators like money. But forging connections does require a careful approach if you’re going to get it right.
So, make sure that each functional team (e.g. Sales) and each project team (e.g. a cross-functional team working on your marketing website) have the budget and time to go on team building. Encourage teams to take meals and coffee together, and even to take some time out of big weekly meetings to talk about personal (not just professional) milestones.
6. Bring everything back to values
Ultimately, your efforts to boost employee morale need to come full-circle. This means right back to your organization’s driving values, vision, and purpose in the world.
Millennial employees, in particular, expect their employer to be consistent in applying values in their daily operations. They need to see their organization living by its values in order to feel satisfied in their work. And Millennials, well, they’re a big part of most workplaces!
Coupling public praise with values can also be one of the most effective ways to increase employee morale. Employees will be more motivated to live the organization’s values when they see real examples of peers being noticed for positive organizational behavior.
The Factors That Influence Employee Morale
Before you start applying the tips proposed above, take some time to consider how certain “macro” factors in your organization could be influencing employee morale, and how they can be improved.
Relevant and meaningful reward systems
Rewards can be seen as a go-to solution to boost employee morale. But if they’re not meaningful, they won’t work. So how do you determine how “meaningful” an incentive is?
The tricky truth is that different rewards will be worthwhile to different employees. There is rarely a one-size-fits-all answer. Some employees respond best to a rewards system that values ambition. These employees would be intrinsically motivated by promotions and career acceleration programs that are fair, transparent, and easy-to-understand.
Other employees value rewards that recognize them as people. These rewards “treats” like spa vouchers, a day off, or online shopping vouchers for a niche site (e.g. a site that sells cooking gear) that appeals to their individual interests.
Quality management and supervision
Employees don’t leave a bad job, they leave a bad manager. What this means is that you can’t truly improve employee morale unless the steps laid out above are supported by strong management and supervision.
This can help to provide managers with training in leadership techniques, performance management styles, and how to give constructive feedback. A good leader will know their team well enough to identify what builds their morale.
Training and continuous self-improvement
Two feelings that are certain to tank employee morale are feeling like your job is holding you back from developing, and feeling like you aren’t being provided with the tools to master your work.
Regular training to promote upskilling (or even reskilling) when job requirements change is invaluable for improving employee morale. Offer accessible tools and resources for employees to drive their own learning and development and equip employees with the knowledge and skills they need to do well in their jobs.
Don’t overlook the role of a powerful Learning Management System (LMS) in helping you achieve your training goals and keeping employee morale high. A high-quality LMS gives you the tools to create tailored, engaging and accessible content so that employees can learn what they need to know when they want and need to know it.
Take Steps to Improve Employee Morale Today
Low employee morale can affect productivity, innovation, and even basic ongoing operations in your organization. But fortunately, it’s a problem that can be solved. Simply follow these six steps to understand the larger factors that influence morale. Because you can boost employee morale in a meaningful way.
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