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9 Ways to Improve Employee Morale

High office morale will see your employees engaged and motivated as they go about their duties. Work won't feel like a burden, but rather a place to showcase their skills and achieve more than is expected of them. 

There are a number of things that companies and leaders can do to improve employee morale. Some of the more important ones are:

Hire the right person for the job

Have you ever gotten a job that you were under-qualified or unprepared for? Or worked with someone who wasn't right for their role? If so, then you know that it's a stressful situation for everyone involved - and negative stress can really do a number on morale.

Not only does hiring the wrong people lower morale, but it also lowers your bottom line. The Center for American Progress determined that the average economic cost of turning over a skilled job is 213% of the yearly salary for the role (PDF). Yikes!

If you feel that your company could stand to improve its hiring practices, you might consider recruiting training. These courses cover a wide range of topics ranging from writing great job ads to interviewing.

Effective onboarding practices

On-boarding is often glossed over to the detriment of the new employee and the organization. A survey conducted by Recruiting Roundtable concluded that effective onboarding resulted in an improvement of up to 11% in employee performance.

Effective onboarding can be as simple as having a workstation set up and ready, clear tasks to get started with, and introductions to their team and company. Making a new employee feel welcome and comfortable from the time they set foot in the office will ensure they start off with a positive attitude.

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Promote an inclusive culture

A healthy culture boosts morale. Healthy interpersonal relationships, management styles, HR, and many more factors influence culture. Create a culture that is inclusive by getting the views of your employees on certain issues and decisions regarding the organization.

They will appreciate having a voice and knowing that their opinions are important. It also makes them feel like they have a say in the direction of the organization and, by extension, their future.

Cultivating the culture you want however, is both a science and an art and there are loads of material addressing this topic in great detail.

Regular feedback and clear objectives

The majority of people thrive when they know exactly what is expected of them. Layout tasks and goals clearly and meet regularly with employees to review and reflect on how things are going. Ideally, managers should meet one-on-one with each employee regularly for this purpose

Keep the tone positive and always ensure that criticism is constructive with a plan for improvement going forward. These sessions should leave both the employee and the manager feeling inspired and enthusiastic. 

Therefore, in order to ensure that feedback is, in fact, as positive and effective as it can be, managers should always make sure that it is: 

  • Timely: problems should be addressed as soon as they arise, in order to make sure that they can be taken care of with minimal damage. 

  • Specific: when talking with employees, the conversation should be specific and not including any other existing factors (such as projects or tasks). 

  • Objective: feedback should always be objective, and completely unaffected by personal feelings or any other secondary factors. 

  • Constructive: feedback should always be constructive, and presented in a way that gives way to discussion and offers solutions to fix any issues. 

Allow employees to fully apply their hard-earned skills

Most of us invest considerable effort in acquiring qualifications and skills throughout our careers. Allowing employees to apply their skills and providing them with the opportunities to shine not only shows a true caring for the individual, but also allows your organization to tap into 100% of the talent available.

There are few things more demoralizing than spending years acquiring knowledge and skills and then not being allowed to put a lot of it to good use.

If, for example, an employee's primary role does not require some valuable skill they possess, try to get them involved in projects in other areas of the business that could benefit from what they have to offer.  Your employees will enjoy the opportunity to use their skills, and your company will benefit from having a skilled person on the project.

Effective leadership

Strong leadership along with clearly communicated company goals and objectives ensures that every employee is on the same page, and lets them know why their own job goals and objectives are so important.

Theories derived from the world of psychology state that humans have an innate tendency to adopt the behaviors and mindsets of those around them, meaning that if managers have an optimistic outlook and a strong work ethic, then employees will automatically feel the same and will thus feel more motivated in the workplace. 

Be prepared to deal with difficult situations

People are sometimes difficult to deal with or a discussion can be awkward and become heated. It is important to step up as a leader and manage the discussion in a way that prevents it from deteriorating.

This is considered such an important part of management that there are courses specifically on dealing with difficult people.

Leaders and managers should also be mindful of the fact that people have personal lives outside of work and what happens out there will affect their mood and performance on the job.

Foster a culture of open communication and - most importantly - be flexible in cases where an employee has a personal issue that is preventing them from doing their best at work. Whether this means a decreased workload or even some mental health days, your employees will respond to this understanding with increased loyalty in the future. 

Recognize great work

Doing great work that seems to disappear into a black hole is demoralizing. Recognition is essential for keeping the spirits up. It is a gesture of appreciation and that good work is being noticed.

It does not necessarily have to be a formal award ceremony that only focuses on a few overall winners. A mention in a meeting, an email, an ad-hoc bonus, of a commendation with a senior manager copied in are all effective ways of communicating appreciation.

Offer opportunities for learning and development

Training is an essential factor in boosting morale. When we are training, we feel great because we are bettering ourselves. We are acquiring new skills allowing us to do more and improving our existing skills to perform better. Organizations that build a learning culture are proven to perform better and have happier employees. 

Whether the training is provided through a conference, workshop, or online, it nevertheless gives employees the chance to develop and enhance their skills. Moreover, it also helps increase morale by giving your team members productive time outside of the office, which will not only serve as a break from their daily routine but also as a chance to meet new people and grow their network. 

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Last updated: 09 Oct 2019

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