5 creative ways to boost employee morale - HR Future helps people prepare for the Future of Work and is South Africa's leading print, digital and online Human Resources magazine.

5 creative ways to boost employee morale

In an ideal work environment, everyone would love their job, enjoy coming in each day, and put in 100 per cent effort from the moment they walk in until the moment they leave. In the real world, however, all sorts of things can interfere with work and quickly drop morale. Employees get burned out, team members have trouble getting along, and the environment no longer functions as a place where people can get their jobs done.

In order to get your team’s morale back up to where you would like it to be, you will probably need to take a few steps. To help you along, here are a few tips on how to give your employees just the boost in morale that they need to keep on going each day.

1. Give your employees feedback — both positive and negative

Employees like to know whether or not they are doing a good job. And that doesn’t mean you should only offer praise to them. If they need to correct something, they actually appreciate hearing that, as well. In fact, in one study, only 43 per cent of respondents indicated that they would prefer praise or recognition. Meanwhile, 72 per cent of those same respondents said they believed their performance would improve if they were given corrective feedback.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should yell at your workers any time they happen to mess up. In the same study, almost all respondents (92 per cent) agreed with the following statement: “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.” Make sure that, when delivering negative feedback, your attitude is one of correcting behavior and improving performance, and not one of anger or punishment, or in any way demeaning. Correct the behavior, but continue to respect your employees, and both morale and performance will improve.

2. Hold casual events where workers can get to know each other in a non-work setting

It can be very draining on employees if they come into work and feel like they are surrounded by strangers day in and day out. Part of management’s job is to find ways to grow a team, rather than a group of individuals who happen to work in close proximity to each other. Give your team plenty of opportunities to get to know each other in a non-work capacity. Events such as parties, movie nights, or outdoor barbecues all allow your employees to socialise and relax in a setting without deadlines and quotas hanging over their shoulders. These events can occur during the day, or they can take place outside of office hours. Consider bringing in a food truck for an hour and have the company spring for lunch one day. Host a company picnic on the office lawn on a Saturday — just make sure that you engage a nearby lawn care service a day or two before to make sure the venue is pleasant. If it feels like very little care went into planning, events like these can backfire and make employees feel unimportant. Just give them a wide variety of opportunities to get to know each other and build relationships with their co-workers.

3. Embrace worthy causes beyond making money

As a rule, employees want to make a difference. They want to be a part of something bigger than them that is working to make things better for the world. If your company embraces charitable giving and encourages the same behavior as part of the company culture, it can have significant boosts to morale. Not only will team members be happier as a whole, improving performance in general, but they will also be less likely to lose productivity due to illness or absence. A company that gives generally benefits from a more positive attitude overall, because people know that what they are doing is promoting a positive change in the world. Even if your company’s main business isn’t focused on charity, by promoting a giving culture, you can help your team to feel they are giving back.

4. Small benefits add up to big rewards

Not all benefits have to be grand, sweeping things. A few small (and even inexpensive) benefits can really add up to improve the feeling that runs through your company.

Companies can work with other businesses to provide company - wide discounts for a variety of goods and services, from movie tickets and theme park admission to airfare and vacation packages. A small allowance to help pay for public transportation each month makes commuting a much easier task for some employees. You don’t have to provide a fully-stocked company gym, but paying for employees’ $20–30 gym fees each month makes a much bigger difference to the employees than the relatively smaller dent it will put in the company’s budget.

5. Promote from within

It’s important for employees to know that there are opportunities for them to advance within the company. Get to know your employees and find out what sorts of talents and skills each member of your team possesses. Look for ways for them to develop those skills in ways that will help your business. Help them to develop leadership skills to allow them to rise in the ranks. If your team members know that they have options to advance their careers within your company, they will be less likely to look elsewhere, and they’ll be much happier in their current positions.

Lindsey Patterson works as a director of marketing at a tech firm in Utah.


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