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How to boost employee morale

Just a few small changes to your working environment and you can improve your employees’ mood, performance and level of job satisfaction.


OK, so what is company morale?

Company morale is the measurement of your team’s sense of confidence, enthusiasm and overall fulfilment. Is your team happy to come to work in the morning? Does your team feel like a team? Good morale goes hand in hand with company culture. If your office is filled with glum faces and the definite sense of ‘this is just a job’ then your morale is likely at zero.

As cheesy as it sounds, modern offices can promote a sense of ‘family’. That means, not only can your team foster genuine relationships with each other, but also that everyone feels supported, free from judgement and able to push themselves to try new things without fear of reprimand. What that means for actual productivity is improved employee engagement, team members that champion collaboration and not just hard work, but quality work as your team pushes each other to do their best.

Why does employee morale matter?

It’s cheaper to keep the employee you have than to train a new hire. If morale is high, your chances of losing talent will be much lower. Your company probably already knows it’s more effective to nurture existing customers than attract new ones, so it should be natural to extend that thinking to your team. To retain great talent, you need to offer a great experience. Don’t automatically assume this means pumping up salary numbers. In fact, over half of workers don’t list pay as their top priority when it comes to job roles. After all, what’s the point of being well-paid but miserable?

Boost morale at work

There are plenty of ways to instill positive employee morale and it’s not always about dropping funds on a new ping pong table. A great company and happy team share an overall outlook that is positive and a sense of job satisfaction that is linked to overall well-being. In short, improving your company culture can massively improve not just your company’s productivity and effectiveness but also the lives of your team. Here’s how to do it:

Improve the work environment

This isn’t necessarily as expensive as it sounds. Especially now, amidst the pandemic, many small businesses are working out of tiny spaces, even garages, but they can still be a joy to be in. One of the most important things is natural light. Endless studies have proven the link between this and well-being, with 80% of workers saying it is important to them. Add a few plants, splurge a little on a quality coffee maker, throw in a bean bag or two and suddenly, a tiny office is a lot more inviting. Working in gloomy and dull surroundings not only impacts overall alertness and engagement, but can take a toll on mental health.

Care about mental health

After all, employee morale applies just as much to remote work environments as your local office, so offering support areas like mental health is vital. Employee recognition is not just about noticing work successes, but about recognising the human behind that great work. You may not be able to run a whole human resources department, but you should have a fair, impartial HR member of staff that employees can turn to in times of need. In the same vein, you should be flexible with what team members need to be at their best. That means you shouldn’t judge absenteeism due to mental health issues as lesser compared to a team member who is off sick with a cold.

Find a healthy work-life balance

Flexible working and allowing the team to work from home is something your business seriously needs to consider, if you aren’t already offering it. The perfect work-life balance means that your employees aren’t having their quality of life at home impacted by their work hours. That can be as simple as eliminating the cost and duration of a commute by letting them work from home and spend that valuable extra time with family. It could mean letting them stop and start work at times that fit around other life commitments, as long as they do their set number of hours. However your office wants to approach this area, make sure you are doing your best to accommodate the needs of your team, not just the needs of your business.

A flat hierarchy

Very much the norm in modern offices, business owners and bosses need to let go of any ego. In many businesses today, you can walk into an office and not even know who the boss is because everyone is treated as an equal. In squashing a rigid hierarchy, you are freeing your workers of old-fashioned notions of ‘staying in their lane’ or ‘knowing their place’. This encourages them to share new ideas and tackle problems in creative ways that aren’t restricted by rank. The boss should be as approachable as a junior colleague and the junior colleague’s talents and contributions should be as recognised as that of the team leader.

Don’t ban fun

Injecting some fun and encouraging casual chat is key to creating real friendships among staff. With the help of messengers like Slack and a few choice emojis, even the most boring projects can be made better if it’s powered by a team that’s always ready to lighten a grey day – and, even better, with a great mood comes great work.

Let your team know they’re doing well

Employee feedback is an area where many workers often feel their workplaces are underperforming. Yes, your team can have colourful beanbags, top-notch coffee machines and a pool table for post-lunch games, but if you’re not giving feedback, they’ll never know how to improve. Employee development and growth is a huge factor for many employees; no one wants to feel like they aren’t progressing.

Make sure you have regular catch-ups with your team and create action plans for how they can progress and improve. Employee reviews should take place at least once a year but shouldn’t be a dreaded or scary event. They should feel like an open and honest dialogue that focuses on where they’re doing well, where they could improve and what you can do to help them along the way. Showing you are invested in your employee’s professional growth is one of the clearest indications that they are valued.

Make sure team means team

Your company should be a group of talented people who can share and benefit from each other’s skills to create something fantastic. As the saying goes, no one is an island. Make sure your team is connected in every aspect of their work by giving them the best tools. Dropbox lets teams share files and folders, feedback and annotations, so no one is ever left out of the loop. With real-time updates to shared documents, work processes can run smoothly and completely online so there’s no risk of finger-pointing because an offline master copy went missing.

It’s not about money, it’s about worth

You could have the shiniest office, the most amazing perks and unlimited annual leave allowances and still find yourself faced with an uninspired team. At the end of the day, morale comes from individuals knowing they are valued. Bonuses and fun extras can seem fantastic as a novelty, but really, does your team want a beer fridge more than individual recognition? Probably not. These blanket perks don’t reflect individual worth but having a manager who encourages you to do your best certainly does.

You don’t need a massive budget to start instilling some of these morale-boosters, and your team is unlikely to be ‘bought off’ by the addition of a new games console in the break area when what they really want is flexible work hours. In fact, this can easily have the opposite impact, with your team thinking, “we can make allowances for a play area but not let me work from home?”, so make your choices wisely.

Encourage your team to do their best

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