Are you getting all you could out of your employees? When you look around your workplace do you see happy, enthusiastic people working hard and enjoying what they do, or do you see tired, stressed people watching the clock? Employee morale matters, and not just because it’s a nice thing to strive for. It makes your own business experience more pleasurable and it can have a pronounced effect on the bottom line – even if workers who are smiling, chatting from time to time and looking relaxed might not seem to be doing as much, they’re significantly more productive. They need less time off, they get through more work, and the work they do is of a higher quality. What can you do to help bring all this about?
Be ready to listen – and learn!
If you ask stressed employees what really frustrates them about their work, the most common answer you’ll receive is that they don’t feel they’re appreciated. Showing employees that you appreciate their efforts isn’t so much about praising them as it is about listening to them – and that has additional benefits because they often have good ideas. For instance, processes that you might think work just fine when you look down on them from above may have obvious flaws to those on the ground, so that fixing them makes the workplace more efficient and your employees feel that their input is valued.
Another thing that workers often flag up as a problem is working long hours, a culture that leaves them with little time to do the other things that matter to them in life. Still more of an issue, however, is the inflexibility of many employers when it comes to working arrangements. Having more control over which days they work and what time they come in makes a big difference to many people; for instance, being able to start at ten instead of nine means single parents can take their kids to school first. Some businesses even set up virtual offices so that staff can more easily work from home, and allowing some work to be home-based can actually lead to increased productivity as employees adjust their schedules to fit in work when they feel most alert.
Work and play together
Team building is vital to creating a happy, healthy office culture. That doesn’t mean smothering each other with lots of social events outside office hours, and it doesn’t mean trying to make ‘fun’ compulsory (which is often counterproductive), but it does mean that creating opportunities to do things as a group is beneficial. Picking lucky numbers together in a lottery syndicate means that you can share the excitement when the lottery numbers come in and share out any winnings. Few things create such an effective team bond as when everybody is celebrating the same thing at the same time.
Can’t afford to raise your employees’ pay? Then there are other ways to make them feel a little bit spoiled at work. Simple things like ordering pizza for everyone on a Friday afternoon can create a happy atmosphere and make workers feel they have been lucky in their choice of employer. Rewards make a good incentive for hard work but can be dispiriting to those employees who never quite make the grade despite their efforts, but good things that everybody gets to share brings the team together rather than creating favorites. Having good coffee or fruit juice available all day also boosts performance by raising energy levels.
In the long-term, what many employees really value about their jobs is the opportunities they get to develop their skills and improve their resumes. This could come from workplace training, from the learning opportunities provided by secondments, or simply from being assigned to a variety of tasks in the workplace. Some employers choose to sponsor their workers to study part time at college, enabling them to gain new skills which are then brought back into the workplace. Some worry that improved skills will lead to workers looking for opportunities elsewhere, but in fact studies show that they tend to increase employee loyalty.
With all these techniques at your disposal, there’s no reason why you should feel helpless about low morale in your workplace. Even a small investment of time and effort can give your employees a big boost and help re-energize your organization. You’ll know if you’re getting it right because you’ll find that it makes you feel happier too.