How happy are you at work? If you’re a manager, how happy is your staff at work? Employee morale, which refers to the employee’s outlook and satisfaction with the organization for which they work, answers these questions. This satisfaction, or lack thereof, can directly affect one’s mental health.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA) article “Boosting Morale,” “An unhappy workplace can increase depression and heart disease rates,” making employee morale directly linked to their well-being. It is true that the pandemic changed how we work, where we work, and how we interact with staff and colleagues, and therefore, brought the challenges of employee morale to the forefront.
Managing a remote workforce, and then managing a team that must disgruntledly return to the office, is no easy task for any leader. You’re not alone! Whether you’re a manager or a leader faced with low employee morale and dissatisfied employees and unsure what to do about it, know there are ways to address this. Let’s explore the benefits of having high staff morale and explore staff morale boosters that are fast, fun, and cheap.
According to Indeed, one benefit of having high-morale employees is consistent attendance, leading to higher revenues for your organization. Low-morale employees tend to call out sick more often, affecting the company’s objectives and KPIs. But it’s not just the attendance for high morale employees; their production is also higher. With increased work performance and production comes the possibility of reaching greater goals for your team and the organization. It also means better production as a whole.
Employees leave for various reasons, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), one of them being dissatisfaction. Deloitte’s Josh Bersin says the cost of losing an employee can include: the cost of hiring someone new, onboarding, lost productivity and engagement, training costs, and cultural impact. This can add to over a trillion dollars in turnover costs in the U.S. alone. In “Managing for Employee Retention,” SHRM recommends you “attack” this issue“ with traditional retention strategies, such as monitoring workplace attitudes and addressing the drivers of turnover.” More on this below.
With a great work environment and happy staff, collaboration is inevitable as it promotes group knowledge-sharing. Employees develop positive work relations as colleagues get to know one another throughout their projects. According to a study conducted by Gallup, 32% of employees with a best friend at work reported feeling a stronger connection and satisfaction with their organization. Employees who feel personally connected with their work environment and peers are more inclusive as they build and nurture healthy-working relationships.
Now that you know about some of the great benefits of investing in cultivating a staff with high morale, here are some quick ways to boost morale:
It might be true that there is no “I” in team! Group-focused activities are a speedy way to boost morale as trust is built, relationships strengthen, and new ones form. Some activities include icebreakers, weekly mentoring, or just chatting together as a group. These are great ways to boost morale positively while doing something fun and stress-relieving. You should be transparent with your team during these activities and listen to their perspectives. You are there to listen and learn.
Lunch breaks are great ways for staff to recoup their energy and enjoy their meals in peace, but with the modern work demand, this type of break is near impossible due to the outreach our technology has. As managers and leaders, you should keep reminding your staff to go outside the building, enjoy their lunch hour, and socialize. Not only will this build up your organization’s reputation to be work-life balance effective, but this is also a great way for colleagues to bond over something meaningful rather than work stress.
Asking for anonymous feedback is a great way to improve the work culture because you create an open and safe dialogue in the company without people fearing backlash. Asking staff directly about their thoughts on the current environment creates transparency, highlights workplace challenges, and helps managers better understand the current climate. Some tips for implementing this booster would be creating a quick survey for all your employees to answer or having an e-space where your employees can anonymously put down their thoughts on how they think about the company’s trajectory. The key is to open these surveys and spaces constantly and anonymously, not to say you can’t simply ask staff members from time to time what their thoughts are on something. Do your best to have a system to keep track of feedback.
Having fun activities gives employees something to look forward to and bond with other staff. Anyone can appreciate a fun day away from work, whether a monthly escape room, Jeopardy with prizes, or starting a language learning program.
A fun way to boost morale would be to start a language learning program to shake things up. Offering languages your employees are interested in shows that company management considers and invests in employees’ personal growth, professional development skills, and work satisfaction. Learning in a group setting builds connections with colleagues and introduces you to new staff that might’ve been in a different department. Virtual language classes are great and can have staff set up in a conference room to get a group environment still. Besides, who wouldn’t benefit from a bilingual workforce? Research shows that “nine out of 10 U.S. employers report a reliance on U.S.-based employees with language skills other than English, with one-third (32 percent) reporting a high dependency.” Not sure which language to choose from? You can read more about your options here: “Best, Most Useful Languages to Learn for Business.”
Corporate Language Programs
Escape room activities are where a group of people are locked in a room where they have to use clues given to break out of the space under a time constraint. The clues can be incorporated into puzzles, foreign objects, or a map. Escape rooms are perfect team-building activities where staff can collaborate and share ideas to achieve a common goal. They also promote communication between team members, enhance problem-solving activities, and improve time management skills and creative thinking is challenged. Nurturing these skills through a fun activity will seamlessly translate back into the office. It’ll also leave employees feeling great and have a better team experience.
If escape rooms aren’t for you, an alternative would be to host a Jeopardy game that includes real prizes. Jeopardy games are fun trivia to test your knowledge of different categories. Feel free to tailor the game to be relevant to your organization. These actions can increase morale because you can remind everyone what your company stands for, what acceptable performance is, and reinforce your unique work culture. Having a cash prize or gift cards as incentives would benefit employees’ motivation because it instills a sense of purpose and satisfaction from accomplishment. By implementing this combo, staff will be excited to participate in this group activity and get a meaningful opportunity to earn more cash bonuses.
Boosting morale can be costly. Here are some free or cheap ways to help organizations boost morale:
3. Introducing a hybrid model of work
Need help to boost morale with your remote employees? In the new age of the digital era, there are many opportunities that you can use to engage workers remotely in a meaningful way. Here are some ways to engage workers’ morale remotely:
Hosting a weekly virtual team-building game is a fun way to engage with your staff remotely. You can divide your team into two teams, and each team would work together to solve puzzles and riddles in hopes of winning the other teams. Instead of being in a physical location, this activity can be implemented through Zoom, using features such as breakout rooms and screen sharing so managers can directly control what’s happening as the host. This is a great fun way to boost morale in your team because teamwork, problem-solving, and engagement are all present in this activity.
Glow and grow sessions consist of telling staff the thing that they are doing really well (glow) and the thing that needs a little extra attention (grow). The key here is for the glows to be truthful and for the growths to be meaningful ways to improve, not just a critique of their performance. This is a great morale booster because complimenting an employee’s performance and combining that with feedback for growth demonstrates how appreciative you are for them doing a good job, but also how much you care for them by not letting them make the same mistakes in the future. The fact that these sessions are called “glows and grows,” should set the tone that they have good intentions and will be both light-hearted and productive for all involved.
Allowing workers to learn a language, especially during work hours, is not only a great way to give them a respite from what can be a monotonous workday, but also a unique way to invest in your employees. A language program is a special morale booster because employees benefit from it on many levels: personally, learning a new language can help them create new connections, explore new cultures, and dream up their next vacation; professionally, learning this new skill can help them communicate with clients, and staff, look forward to possible work promotions and prospects, and be more competitive in the global job market. You can take it a step further by adding a language community within your organization so remote workers can still build relationships outside of class.
Now that you have an extensive list of different staff morale boosters, which ones do you plan to implement at your organization? Boosting employee morale should always be a top priority because it directly affects the company’s productivity, goals, retention, collaboration, culture, and revenue. By using a series of quick, fun, and free (or cheap) ways to boost morale, not only are you directly cultivating a positive work culture, but you’re also changing the dynamics in the environment for the better. Keep in mind to always be open to new ideas and feedback because that would be your best strategy to continue the positive feedback loop and improve employee satisfaction.
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Irma is a trained linguist, native Spanish speaker, and teacher. She is the founder and CEO of Diáfano.
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