Employee morale and motivation is directly linked to productivity and research has shown, time and time again, that leadership style and work environment has a much bigger impact on morale, than job security and remuneration does.
Globally, the top motivator for all employees regardless of age or industry, is “interesting work”, closely followed by “feeling like they are part of things” and “recognition for work done”.
Here are 5 tips that will help even small businesses to rev their employee morale into overdrive and drastically increase engagement and commitment, which, in turn, increases productivity and reduces absenteeism and staff turnover. We are not suggesting that you engage specialist consultants and software to do these things either. You can start small and inexpensive with simple tweaks and changes:
LEAD, DON’T MANAGE
The difference between being a leader and a manager, and how to strike a balance between the two, is a whole other article. To get you started though, here are some of the key differences widely used in leadership development:
COMMUNICATE THE WHY
Most managers focus on day-to-day transactional issues and on just getting the work done and neglect to discuss strategy or longer term plans with their team members. They also tend to tell people what to do and by when it needs to be completed, without mentioning the ‘why’. A good leader will give their team members a reason why they need something rushed or why something is important and they will also make a concerted effort to encourage two-way communication and feedback by creating an environment where people are able to speak up freely, without fear of reprisal or any kind of negative consequences. You may want to consider introducing ye olde suggestion box or even incentivising your team members to submit their ideas on how things could be done more efficiently in the workplace. Innovation and initiative should be encouraged through positive reinforcement. Incentives don’t have to be super expensive – it could be movie tickets or dinner for two or even just a Friday afternoon off work.
RECOGNISE THEIR EFFORTS
Few things are as motivating and encouraging as having your efforts recognised and a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way toward making people feel more valued. You may want to spend some time on creating a simple “employee of the month” programme where you invite nominations from the team and specifically encourage employees to display behaviours that are aligned with your company values. For instance, if one of your values is ‘accountability ‘you would want to recognise an employee who took responsibility for a mistake that they made and took positive steps towards correcting it or mitigating damage to the company. Not only does this type of recognition positively reinforce the values and behaviours that you would like to see in the workplace, but it also creates a culture of transparency, open communication and engagement where employees feel valued and that they are actually part of something.
INTRODUCE SOME FUN
There’s nothing worse than being forced to spend free time socialising with people you don’t get along with on a good day, so don’t force the social aspect and don’t make it compulsory, especially not if it’s been lacking in your workplace.
Fun in the office doesn’t always have to be Taco Tuesdays - you can start small and inexpensively by:
- Introducing a calendar of fun activities in the workplace, like celebrating world popcorn day in January or ice cream day - some awesome ideas at daysoftheyear.com
- Have an employee cook-off contest or themed potluck lunch;
- Host a quarterly barbeque that starts on a Friday at 2pm and is over by the time employees would ordinarily leave to go home;
- You could also introduce healthy activities and some competition in the office by all downloading the same health or pedometer app and see who can do the most steps per day or week and keep track on a central leader board in the office; or
- The office chair race is always a winner and a great source of fun and laughter.
MIX THINGS UP A BIT
You don’t have to give an employee more responsibilities or pay them more, but you can mix things up a little for them by allowing staff to volunteer to work on projects or by exposing them to different roles in the organisation. You can also encourage employees to seek ways to work smarter and constantly find better ways of doing things around the workplace. Not only will you be improving engagement and commitment, but productivity will increase and employees may just identify an area they are interested in, which you can use in future as part of your succession planning and talent retention strategy.
Never underestimate the power of public recognition for a job well done, in an environment that encourages transparency. Your aim should always be to create a workplace where people do great work and have fun whilst doing it. You may just be amazed at how morale and productivity improves and how quickly you reduce your employee turnover.