In 2022, employee engagement fell to an all-time low. Burnout, low productivity, and low mood are a workplace pandemic sweeping the world, causing both staff and the businesses they work for to suffer. So, what can we do?
Fortunately, there are plenty of proven methods for combatting low morale and bringing the work spirit back to your team. Take a look at these tips to spread a little extra joy in the year ahead and keep procrastination at bay.
Encourage a work-life balance
Burnout is a known killer of morale, and there’s nothing more likely to cause it than a lack of a work-life balance. Pushing them into taking too much overtime or constantly doing late nights is guaranteed to send their spirits plummeting and lower motivation. The bottom line is your staff need a life outside of work, and they need time off to enjoy it!
If you notice employees are consistently continuing to work after their shift is finished, sit down to have a discussion with them. It could be that the workload is too high and you need more staff, or that they’re struggling to get by on their wages and need overtime to bolster their pay cheque. Once you’ve identified the reason they’re working so much, you can do something about it.
Even if staff aren’t overworking, there are plenty of ways you can help them switch off from the office when they’re away. Some companies implement a “no work emails” rule between 5 pm and 7 am, for example. Let the staff know they’re not expected to be reachable after work hours, and actively encourage them to enjoy their home life when they’re there.
By promoting a work-life balance, you should see staff become more energised, productive, and happy when they come to work. They’ve had the chance to refresh, and they’re ready for a new day!
Build trust through transparency
A whopping 87% of employees in a Slack survey wanted the company they worked for to be transparent, and 80% wanted more insight into how business decisions are made.
There’s so much evidence that employees value trust. Your team want to be an active part of your company, not just another cog in the machine. So, don’t lead from behind closed doors. Hold regular meetings to get feedback and ideas for your team, put forward process changes before you make them, and share information about how the company is doing. Get your staff involved and watch them thrive.
Being transparent and building trust is a key morale boosters. It improves collaboration and helps people feel as though they’re part of something bigger than their individual role, adding fulfilment to their work.
As a manager, set out certain rules that your senior staff can follow to build trust. These can include:
- Trusting your team to make decisions
- Never micromanaging
- Asking the team for feedback on current business processes and potential changes
- Allowing staff to make mistakes without severe repercussions
- Always answering questions honestly
- Listening to staff when they come to you
Keep your team up to date with what’s going on throughout the business, too. A simple email at the end of the week letting everyone know any new clients who have come on board, old clients who have left, progress towards company goals, and process changes can be a great morale booster.
Always recognise good work
It’s no secret that receiving positive recognition boosts morale. Showing your appreciation for your team members is crucial if you want them to keep up the good work, and a little positive feedback goes a long way!
This doesn’t apply to work, either. Though it’s vital to pinpoint excellent performance and recognise when staff have completed a tough task, it’s also important to acknowledge their achievements outside of their work. For example, if a staff member has been supporting a colleague during a tough time, let them know that you’ve noticed their friendship and give them an extra hour for lunch.
You can also ensure you always take time to reflect on good work by creating a recognition and rewards program. This could mean a weekly prize presented to one staff member for excellent work, performance, or friendship, for example. Show your staff that you’re noticing their contribution and boost morale.
Support employee initiatives
Staff want their workplace to be more than an establishment that provides them with money. They want somewhere to socialise, feel supported, and find fulfilment in their day-to-day lives. If you don’t give them these things, you’ll see morale take a dive and motivation plummet! But, tick all of their boxes and you’ll create a hard-working, loyal team.
One method to create a more positive social work environment is to support employee initiatives. This doesn’t mean saying yes to every idea for a club that staff come to you with, but instead supporting those that have real potential.
A lot of companies have employee-led wellness groups. These can encompass fitness classes, meditation sessions, diet information, and provide a safe, supportive space to talk. Investing in a wellness initiative is a fantastic way to show staff you care about their needs and want to make their lives better, not worse.
Listen to your team
No team member is going to fill motivated if they aren’t listened to. As a manager, it’s crucial that you ensure every staff member has the opportunity to have their say, no matter how large your company is.
Create monthly meetings with designated team leaders, who will then report what was said back to you. If there are any concerns that need to be taken further or ideas to work on, you can meet with that individual for a one-on-one discussion.
Have an open-door policy, too, in which staff can come to you at any time without an appointment – unless you’re in a meeting, of course! This time can be used to express concerns, put new ideas forwards, or raise personal issues that may need to be supported in-house. Whatever they want to say, you’re listening.
If your business hires thousands of staff and giving them all a say is tricky, set up an online system. Many people, for example, use online communication platforms to allow staff to message one another and in group threads. Here, they can message senior staff directly, too. This allows for quick communication and removes the need for organising meetings, saving everyone plenty of time whilst still leaving staff feeling heard.
Arrange fun activities
Work isn’t all about working! Companies have a responsibility to inject some fun into their staff’s careers, hosting activities to bring their teams together and encourage them to chill out. Fun events can boost team collaboration, improve your image as an employer, and – of course – raise morale.
Take your team on a scavenger hunt to get them out of the work environment and moving about. Create a “happy hour” at the end of the week in which all staff can turn their computers off and have a beer (or two!). Host parties, hire entertainers to liven up the lunch break, and surprise your team with mornings out of the office. These don’t have to be regular, but even a few events a year can create a more positive workplace for your employees.
Help staff level up
No one wants to stay in the same job role forever. Year after year of repetitive work can become tedious, fuelling burnout and suffocating morale. But if your team aren’t given opportunities to move up the ladder or explore new opportunities within your company, even the chirpiest of staff will falter over time.
Prevent this from happening by providing plenty of levelling-up schemes. Make it known that if staff want to train for a new role, you’ll do everything you can to support them in their education. You may even provide the training or courses for them, giving everyone an equal shot at switching positions or qualifying for promotion. If a team member comes to you with burnout or actively says they’re looking for a new role, help them explore options and find a good fit.
Providing staff with opportunities to move around your company is so simple and can have a huge impact on morale! If you haven’t already got systems in place to make levelling up easier, create them today and prevent losing your top staff to a competitor with better opportunities.
Provide mental health support
Over 10% of the world’s population suffers from a mental illness. The chances that there are people in your company already struggling with depression, anxiety, or any other form of mental health problem is very high. Left unchecked, these can spiral and cause your staff to lose morale, finding little joy or fulfilment in their work for your business.
Providing mental health support is therefore key to keeping your team happy and ready to work. Many CEOs create mental health strategies that every manager is on board with. These include training so that they’re aware of what mental illness is and the processes to deal with a team member who is struggling.
Some staff, for example, may need more flexible work hours or to be directed towards a therapist. Ensuring your managers know what to do in these situations is crucial.
Let your team know that support is available, too, before they ask for it. Have posters around the office or let staff know in meetings that you’re always there to provide support, no matter what it’s for. A supported team is far less likely to have problems with morale and far more likely to be happy and productive.
Provide proper breaks
Law dictates that staff must have breaks in the work day, but the legal requirement is fairly minimal. If you know your employees have been working hard and may need a little longer at lunch, let them have it! For staff members going through personal issues, give them an extra break in the afternoon to ease the pressures of the day.
Providing your team with proper breaks is vital to keeping their morale high and preventing burnout. If you don’t think the legal requirement is long enough, add an extra fifteen minutes to everyone’s lunch. Let your employees know that you’re flexible, too, and as long as they don’t take advantage of it you’re happy to be flexible with how long they take for their lunch.
Boosting morale amongst employees isn’t always easy. With staff carrying out repetitive tasks, working long hours, and – let’s face it – wanting to be at home chilling out in their PJs, raising their spirits every day is a challenge! With these tips, though, you should find it easier to keep your team happy and prevent burnout. Remember, a happy team is a happy business, so implementing these changes is well worth your time.
About the Author
Chris Harley is passionate about improving the lives of others through his work and sharing advice about mental health practices. When Chris isn’t researching the latest holistic and wellbeing therapies, he’s spending time with his two cats, usually curled up on the sofa and reading a murder mystery book.