The subject of employee morale is very topical at the moment – you won’t read an HR journal without an updated piece of high-quality research or an interview with a subject expert.
However, there is still little in the way of practical and actionable guidelines that help HR professionals foster a better workplace environment.
So we set out to write this article with the aim to dispel any confusion that surrounds the subject and to offer practical tips on how you can increase employee morale in a noticeable way.
The term “employee morale” is often used interchangeably with “employee productivity”, but in fact, they are different things. Employee productivity is described as “an evaluation of an employee’s efficiency”. It is a measure of value which each individual employee produces every hour and it is often calculated using units of output.
Where, employee morale is deemed to be “the overall outlook, attitude, satisfaction and confidence that employees feel at work.” Even though they are different they are invariably linked, as employees who have a high level of morale are more productive.
They also tend to have lower levels of absenteeism, are more satisfied at work and overall, they feel happier. The culmination of all these things equates to better financial results for the business.
Research carried out by the University of Warwick, backs up this claim. Their study “Happiness and Productivity” found that employees who are happy tend to be 12% more productive.
If you find that your staff is dragging themselves into work each day and generally look unhappy to be there, then you know that employee morale is at critical level. However, even HR professionals with an engaged and happy workforce might find some of the below tips helpful.
Bring the fun back into the workplace
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics a full-time worker in the US works on average 44 hours a week. It comes as no surprise that at the end of a long working week, employees feel the need to let off some steam.
If your employees are mostly office based, you can create an enjoyable and chilled-out end to the week by closing early on a Friday, offering end-of-the-week drinks or by hosting wind-down sessions such as deep-breathing exercises or yoga sessions.
Injecting a sense of fun into the working environment may be more difficult if you manage a remote team, but you should still do it to reap the rewards. One way is to organise regular social get-togethers like BBQ’s or a day out at the races. The one rule that everyone must abide by is – no work talk is allowed!
Publicly praise employees for their amazing efforts
It’s easy to become fixated on the things that are not going right, such as projects that are over-running or a team member who is underperforming. This negative mindset can stop you from seeing the amazing things your employees are doing and celebrating their accomplishments.
When your employees are working really hard such as putting in extra hours to get a project finished, going above and beyond for a client or assisting a colleague who is struggling with a task – make the effort to publicly praise them for it. This will motivate others to perform at their best too and helps create a company culture (with a focus on positive reinforcement rather than negative).
Focused, hardworking and productive employees are hard to come by and these are the ones you be should working hard to retain. Offering incentives is a great way to show your appreciation for their efforts. A study carried out in India by TimesJobs shows that 86% of employees are willing to work harder if their bosses appreciate them and 90% said they would stay with the company longer.
Incentives can either be monetary or non-monetary. Monetary incentives are mainly offered in the way of bonuses. Where, non-monetary incentives include perks like paid days off for birthdays, discounts to restaurants, free tickets to cinemas and discounted gym membership and even days out and team building exercises.
Incentive programmes like those offered by PerkBox are a cost-effective way to show appreciation and they allow you to tailor the programme to people’s interests. Interestingly, non-monetary incentives tend to be more effective than monetary rewards as they offer tangible benefits to the individual so that’s definitely something to bear in mind.
Pay employees what they’re worth
While productivity is mainly driven by job satisfaction and purpose, salary also plays a part. People who feel they are underpaid are less motivated and not as loyal to the business.
Your HR department should be able to advise on industry average salaries and benchmark pay checks to what your competitors pay their staff. If not, job sites tend to hold this information and it is easily available with a few clicks.
However, you shouldn’t rely solely on increasing salaries to improve employee morale. The enjoyment that people will feel in receiving more money in the pay check will soon fade and you’ll still be left with demoralised employees so its important to handle deeper employee morale issues appropriately and candidly.
Streamline company communications
Staying in touch with employees is very important, particularly if you manage remote workers as it helps to keep them in the loop with what is happening in the business and it also makes them feel part of the team.
However, with the average office worker receiving around 121 emails per day (according to research by DMR), company communications can quickly become a distraction and an annoyance.
Finding a way to streamline the way email and other internal communications are delivered and only sending messages which are relevant to that individual will give your employees more time to work on business-critical tasks.
A new trend in internal communications is using purpose-built employee apps, especially suited to reach and engage frontline workers who are on the move and who work in customer facing roles unlike their office based colleagues. The best of these apps combine cloud storage, secure messaging, integrations and many other features.
Plus, new members instantly get secure access to files and previous communication – bringing them up to speed on projects quickly and cutting out the need for time consuming and unnecessary meetings and an avalanche of on-boarding emails.
Flexible working covers many facets, including offering employees the opportunity to work part-time, job-sharing with someone else, working extended hours and the ability to work from home.
Employees who feel their employer is sympathetic to their personal commitments are likely to be more focused and productive. However, flexible working won’t work for every role and it’s important to be transparent about this when recruiting.
If business objectives mean that you can’t offer flexible working to your employees, it shouldn’t stop you implementing an inclement weather policy, which details employees working rights in the event of extreme weather events like floods or storms.
You can’t control whether your employees will have high levels of morale, but you do have a say over the environment in which they work. As such you do play an important role in whether employee morale is high or low.
We hope you found our article helpful and that you’ll consider implementing one of the suggested ways to increase employee morale – take it from us; it makes all the difference!
About the Author
With a past career in HR and passion for writing, Anna Hayes has a keen interest in all things employee engagement and workplace satisfaction. Outside of work, she enjoys attending networking events, traveling, writing poetry and reading.