While managers are often caricatured as being heartless taskmasters who only care about the bottom line, the truth is that most people in management positions really do care about the happiness of their workers. No one wants to be surrounded by miserable people all day for five days every week, and the most effective managers are able to develop relationships with their employees. Meanwhile, for those managers who do hyperfocus in on the bottom line, it’s been scientifically proven that employees with high morale are typically more efficient than their disengaged counterparts and do better work overall.
So what can company leaders do to boost employees’ morale in the workplace? The first and most obvious course is to make sure you are paying your employees fairly. While pay only impacts morale up to a certain pay level, it’s crucial to make sure that you are meeting that base level. Beyond that, though? Here are just a few ideas.
1.) Celebrate employee accomplishments
Sometimes, all it takes to boost an employee’s mood is to recognize when they’ve done their job well. Team members put in a lot of work to make sure that their tasks are done well and on time. It’s nice to know that your hard work is noticed.
Without the proper recognition, employees can often get stuck wondering if their work has any meaning. After all, if no one notices whether it’s done well or not, then what’s the point? Recognizing, both in public and in private, a job well done can let employees know that they are not slipping through the cracks. It lets them know that you value them.
2.) Make meetings optional
Meetings are intended to allow workers to collaborate on projects and share ideas with each other. All too often, though, meetings devolve into having meetings for the meeting’s sake. Often, even if a meeting is necessary, not everybody needs to attend.
Allow your employees to make their own decisions about whether or not they need to attend a meeting. You can still hold them accountable for the information that was covered at the meeting, but grant them the leeway to make that call for themselves. Your workers have other work that they could be taking care of during the meeting, and many times, that’s exactly what they’re doing if they’re forced to attend—paying attention to other work than the meeting itself. If they don’t need to be there, allow them to do their work without the distractions of the meeting around them.
3.) Make rewards meaningful to each employee
An effective office is filled with employees of all different types. That means that each employee has his or her own set of needs and wants. Offering a variety of different awards rather than just a set reward for each accomplishment allows employees the option of choosing the reward that fits them best. Gift cards to favorite restaurants and outlets work for some employees while others would prefer discount Disneyland tickets or other opportunities to spend time with their families. While some employees’ tastes might be a bit more expensive than others, you can compensate for this by creating a point system with tiers. If an employee would prefer a larger reward instead of several smaller ones, they have the option of saving up points and cashing them in later.
Also, while gifts and gift cards can be appealing, offering experiences as rewards for your employees can have a longer lasting impact. This can come from encouraging employees to work together by pooling points to acquire a rewards for the group, and it can come from providing opportunities to attend events together as a team. The most important part is that the reward is meaningful.
4.) Ask for—and listen to—feedback from your employees
Managers typically perform reviews of their team members at least annually and even more often. This allows them to give employees feedback about their performance, areas where they are excelling, and areas in which they could improve. While that’s a part of the effort, it’s not complete.
Managers should also ask their employees for feedback. This can include areas where the company is meeting its goals, positive programs the company has in place, and their thoughts on external campaigns. But perhaps even more important, this is an opportunity for employees to point out areas where the company needs to improve. Is the company treating each employee fairly? Are there social issues that need to be solved? How can the manager improve? What would boost morale around the office?
After receiving this feedback, really listen to what the employees are saying. If employees are asked to give feedback, but nothing ever changes, then it only makes the system feel even more futile. Pay attention and look for real problems, then be willing to invest time and resources to improve the situation.
5.) Make it possible for employees to work in the way that is most effective for them
Certain employees excel within an office environment. If you sit them down at a computer in a standard office, surrounded by people doing the same work, they’ll achieve record results. But others may not perform so well in that kind of environment. Where possible, provide your employees with the opportunity to work in a way that is best for them. Perhaps the option of working from home, whether once a week or every day, could improve things for your employee.
That doesn’t mean you should slacken accountability, but if the worker is able to complete their work more efficiently in a different environment, or even a new desk configuration, and it doesn’t put an unnecessary strain on the company, then isn’t it best to make that possible? By allowing your workers to seek a work environment that meets their needs, you can boost productivity and morale in a single blow.
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