10 top tips for improving employee morale for better engagement & performance
Between Coronavirus, lockdown, the possibility of redundancy and everything else that’s gone on lately, it’s fair to say that everyone’s been a touch stressed out. Even in normal times, workplaces can be high-pressure environments, and an important managerial skill is the ability to keep your team in a positive mood. So if you’ve ever wondered how to improve morale at work, then wonder no more, because we’ve got a list of ten great tips to point you in the right direction.
1: Offer encouragement and highlight employee success
When it comes to how to improve morale at work, a little praise can go a long way. In fact, positive reinforcement from managers has been found to be more effective in the long run than financial incentives. Complimenting your employees on their performance makes them feel valued, and while work is still work, it really does help to know your work is appreciated.
But you don’t have to be the only one highlighting the success of your employees. Giving them a space to recognise each other’s accomplishments can help make a supportive workplace culture self-sustaining while strengthening their ability to collaborate with each other.
2: Invest in a culture of trust
Low-trust workplaces struggle with engagement and productivity compared to higher trust workplaces. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that a lack of trust can damage morale as well. If you can’t trust your colleagues, you can’t rely on them to get things done, and you won’t want to open up to them if you’re struggling with something like personal wellbeing.
But a culture of trust has to go both ways. If you want your employees to trust each other and you, not only do you need to conduct yourself transparently, but you also need to show your employees that you trust them. Assigning them meaningful projects and letting them work without micromanagement isn’t just essential for freeing up your own time, it also lets your team know that you have faith in their abilities.
3: Let the voices of your employees be heard
If there’s a guaranteed way of tarnishing office morale, it’s ignoring the needs and suggestions of your staff members. When you hear the word “feedback,” you might imagine guiding employee performance, helping them to improve their skills. But proper workplace feedback should go both ways.
Our employee check-in system is the perfect thing for keeping an eye on how your staff members are doing. Each week or month, depending on your preference, employees submit an update that takes them just minutes to fill out. Our check-in utilises a wide variety of customisable question types as well as your choice of SMART Goals or OKRs for objective tracking. You’ll also be able to respond to each of an employee’s answers when you review their update, which makes starting a dialogue around employee experiences and issues incredibly easy.
4: Prioritise staff wellbeing
With 2020 effectively solidified as the most stressful year ever, now is the time to double down on wellbeing in the workplace. So the issue of how to improve morale at work means supporting employee wellbeing. Employers need to open up the dialogue around mental health, support staff with physical illnesses and disabilities, and encourage employees to take time off when they need it.
5: Support professional development
Very few people like the idea of being in a dead-end job. Employees generally like to feel as though they have room to advance and opportunities to improve or add to their skillset. So a key part of how to improve morale at work is supporting professional development however you can, through an emphasis on employee education, a transparent and accessible route to promotion, and the implementation of mentorship programs.
6: Make time for casual interaction
How enjoyable your job is can often depend on the people you work with. When you’re in full-time employment, you often end up spending more time with your colleagues than your actual family. So a lack of connection with these people can really hurt your sense of social wellbeing.
Taking the time to reinforce your team’s social connection can do a lot to make them happier, even if it’s just setting aside some time at the beginning of a meeting for a bit of a catch-up. Optional out-of-work activities can also provide a great opportunity to bond.
7: Limit office hours to discourage presenteeism
It’s not unusual to pull a bit of overtime every now and then, but overdoing it puts employees at risk of burnout. Some workplace cultures, especially in high-pressure areas like the legal sector, can be toxic in the sense that employees wear their job stress like a badge of honour. This makes it difficult for people to be honest about their wellbeing for fear of seeming weak or unreliable.
Setting some kind of limitation is a way of protecting your more over-zealous staff from their own best intentions, whether that’s a limit on office hours, or a cap on the amount of overtime individual employees can work.
8: Allow for flexible work
There are few quicker ways for an employee to lose morale than through a poor work/life balance. Different people have different issues to deal with, and for many, the typical nine-to-five in a centralised office isn’t ideal. Whether it’s an out-of-work obligation like raising kids, or living with a disability or long-term illness, there are a lot of reasons why someone might need flexibility in their job.
Job flexibility is becoming more popular, and more expected. And if 2020 has proven anything, it’s that remote work in particular is very effective. And when your employees have adequate time for their personal lives, they’re much more likely to be content in their work.
9: Provide effective management training
The “sink or swim” mentality works fine for ducks, less so for people. Unfortunately, however, sometimes people get promoted into management roles without getting much formal instruction. This leaves them with the unenviable task of cobbling together an approach to their new position based on how they were treated by their old line managers.
We’re not saying that nobody ever takes to managing people like the proverbial duck to water. Just that it’s a bit of a gamble to assume that’s what will happen. Implementing a management training program for your business means that anyone you up-skill into the position will gain a working knowledge of their responsibilities, as well as important skills like impartial conduct and conflict de-escalation and resolution.
10: Take the time to do something nice for your employees
We thought we’d round off our advice on how to improve morale at work with our simplest point. Just doing something to make your employee’s day can make a world of difference. Taking them out for drinks, or giving them a little non-financial bonus like a gift card or some chocolates can be a great way to let your team know you appreciate them.
To read our latest musings on workplace culture, or to find out how our platform can boost employee engagement for your business, visit the Weekly10 blog.