How to boost morale at work

Five Nearly Free Ways to Boost Your Employees' Morale

Five Cheap Ways to Boost Morale in the Workplace

  • Be Available
  • Be Flexible
  • Celebrate Accomplishments
  • Be Positive
  • Focus on Why the Work Matters

While there are many factors that affect employee productivity and the workplace environment, one of the most important is the morale of your employees.

When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. If you dread coming to work, it stands to reason that you won’t be very productive. Likewise, if you work in a toxic environment, it’s hard to prevent the negativity in the office from bringing your mood down.  Boosting employee morale has many benefits including increased productivity and greater employee satisfaction.

There will be times of low employee morale. It isn’t something that’s one hundred percent preventable. However, there are many things you can do to help minimize the ebbs and flows of morale and create a work environment that is supportive for all employees and conducive to good morale.  You can do these as:

  • a business owner
  • manager
  • organizational psychologist,
  • stakeholder

The good news is that there are ways to boost staff morale without breaking the bank.  Boosting your employees’ morale doesn’t have to be expensive. It does not have to be time-consuming. In fact, as you’ll see in the examples below, there are many low-cost or free ideas to boost employee morale.  

Be Available

Be Available to talk to employeesWhen you’re in an authority position in a business or organization, one of the best things you can do to foster positive employee morale is to simply be available.

Being available to discuss issues – good or bad – and to answer questions will go a long way in making employees feel heard. The more they feel heard, the better employees will feel about their place in the business or organization.  This also helps build a positive company culture.

Being available to employees fosters positive growth in many areas. For example, if employees feel their opinions matter, they will be much more open to sharing ideas for improving operations.  It will also encourage employees to bring possible issues to your attention that threaten company morale.

Additionally, being available to employees means they have a sounding board for airing complaints. They might be having an issue with a co-worker. Maybe their paycheck amount was wrong. Perhaps the work environment itself needs some attention. Whatever the issue, having an open-door policy with employees means that you can work together to address complaints before the problem becomes serious.

Another benefit of making yourself available to employees is that it encourages a team approach to attaining organizational goals.

If employees feel as though they are an integral component of the team, they will be more likely to be invested in the process. On the other hand, employees who feel like they’re simply being told what to do without regard for their opinions or feelings might not be as motivated to help in a team effort. Which situation do you think fosters high employee morale? The first, obviously! And it all starts with being available to employees right from the start.

Be Flexible

Many workplaces have policies and procedures that need to be inflexible. Safety guidelines, for example, aren’t something that warrant flexibility.

But something that can, and should, be flexible is the attitude of managers, supervisors, and others in positions of authority in a business or organization.

Employees should feel comfortable talking to their supervisors about making needed changes to their work schedule to accommodate the goings-on of real life. Sometimes:

  • kids get sick
  • appointments are necessary during the workday
  • cars get flat tires

When things like this come up, employees shouldn’t have to worry about being berated for needing to adjust their work schedule.

Instead, if you are focused on how to boost morale at work, adopt an attitude of flexibility and understanding. Give employees the support they need to deal with last-minute issues in their lives, and they will be much more willing to find rapid solutions that get them back to work as quickly as possible.

For example, let’s say an employee’s car doesn’t start on a cold winter morning. They call you and explain the situation. If you react with an attitude like, “figure it out fast because your shift starts soon,” that employee won’t feel supported at all. What’s more, that feeling of a lack of support can extend to future situations and cause distrust and anxiety about coming to you with problems or issues when they occur again. This approach fosters low employee morale and can have a negative impact on company culture.

However, if, as a person of authority, you explain to the employee that you can ask someone to cover their shift until they arrive, the employee will feel as though you’ve got their back and that you’ll help them solve the problem.  This flexibility supports positive employee morale.

Again, simply being flexible and helping employees tackle issues that arise will go a long way in ensuring positive morale in the business or organization. Being understanding and flexible in these circumstances will also make employees feel as though they are cared about as people. 

Another way to boost employee morale is to allow flexible hours or work from home days. This is free for the employer and can even save money on overhead costs. Best of all, employees love these perks. As long as employees are getting their work done and doing a good job, being flexible is well worth it.  This flexible benefit also promotes a healthy work life balance.

Celebrate Accomplishments

Celebrate Accomplishments at workWhen a business or organization achieves a goal, it’s worth celebrating. This doesn’t mean that you need to have an office party every time sales targets are met or every day that there are no accidents or customer complaints.

However, periodic celebrations or employee recognition events are a great way to boost employee morale and keep it at a high level for an extended period of time.

Perhaps important deadlines are met, or a major project is completed. Maybe there’s an employee who achieves a milestone, like 10 years of work with the company. Or perhaps an employee lands an important client or completes a significant training program that warrants recognition. Whatever the case, recognizing that something good has happened will give everyone in the organization an opportunity to relish the moment.  This also promotes employee engagement.

And this isn’t just about recognizing professional accomplishments, either. There are lots of affordable ideas to boost morale at work.  Maybe once a month everyone gets together to celebrate that month’s birthdays. If an employee is pregnant, throw a baby shower. Recognizing personal events like this is a great way to boost employee morale. It’s also a good way to foster the development of deeper relationships among employees. Making those types of connections can also help employees feel better about their place in the office environment and promote employee engagement.

Of course, there are some costs associated with celebrating accomplishments, like paying for catering or decorations or a small gift for the person whose accomplishment is being celebrated. But these minor expenses are certainly worth the morale boost that comes as a result of taking a few minutes to be happy about a significant milestone.  You can always ask for employee feedback to see what types of celebration activities are important to them.  

In addition to making positive inroads on the morale front, these kinds of celebrations – even if they’re only for a 15-20 minute window – allow everyone to:

  • unplug for a moment
  • decompress
  • enjoy one another’s time

All jobs can become a grind from time to time, so a well-timed celebration of some sort can do the trick to revitalize the energy in the office and help employees regain their focus.

When celebrating, make sure not to leave out remote employees.  Including them through video calls or Zoom meetings is a great way to help them feel included.  They are team members too so it’s important that they be included in the festivities!

Be Positive

One of the simplest ways to boost morale in the workplace is to adopt a positive attitude.

Of course, being overly positive or falsely enthusiastic will rub employees the wrong way. Don’t be over the top and don’t be disingenuous, but do lead by example. 

Employees are much more likely to be positive when their managers are as well. This doesn’t mean you have to have a big smile on your face all the time, but it is important to display positivity as a means of modeling how employees’ attitudes should be as well.

This is particularly important during times of stress. If, for example, a company is struggling to meet sales goals, you won’t encourage your salespeople to work harder and close more sales by being stressed out and pessimistic. Instead:

  • be encouraging and positive
  • give employees positive affirmations
  • find ways to help them do their jobs better
  • do it all with an encouraging and positive attitude

Try leading positive team building activities.  Your positive outlook may be contagious!

This approach to boost workplace morale works best when it’s incorporated right from the start. For example, insert positivity training in employee training programs. It will help them develop positive attitudes toward their work and the work environment in general. Establish the expectation that employees should strive for positivity. Make it clear that you will be supportive of them when their positivity wanes. You’ll have much happier employees on your hands and boost employee satisfaction.

Being positive goes hand-in-hand with other approaches on this list as well. For example, if you have a positive attitude at work, employees will be more likely to see you as being available and approachable. They’ll be more open to the notion that you’ll be flexible and accommodating when the need arises.

Focus on Why the Work Matters

Nearly every employee likes to feel as though the work they are doing means something. They want to feel like what they do matters and that they are making a difference in the world. If you can help them focus on why their work matters and why they are an important member of the team, employees are far more likely to have a good attitude at work.

Managers and executives should consider why the type of work their company does is important. Then communicate that to employees on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean that you need to have weekly meetings to remind everyone of why their work is important. But, periodically, find ways to help employees feel like they’re a member of the team and that they’re part of a grander picture.

It’s important to communicate the importance of work to every employee as well. Everyone from the CEO to the night custodian is part of a team that’s working toward the same overarching goal. If employees at any level feel like they don’t matter or that the work they do is unappreciated, it can turn into a drag on their morale and the people with whom they work.

Again, we can see how this approach works well with other approaches discussed earlier. Celebrating accomplishments, for example, is a great way to bring attention to the importance of the work employees do. It’s also an ideal avenue for communicating the value you place in their day-to-day efforts in the workplace.

Why Good Morale is Important

Why Good Morale is ImportantGood morale is certainly helpful for productivity. Happy employees are more likely to work harder and report job satisfaction than employees that have low morale. But there are other benefits of high workplace morale that are also important for businesses large and small.

For example, good employee morale is essential for gaining and retaining loyal, quality employees. Your employees lwill be much more likely to stay with the company over the long term if they: 

  • love to come to work
  • feel heard
  • feel supported

Employees are not going to be as invested in becoming a long-term asset for the company if they:

  • don’t like their work
  • feel taken advantage of
  • dislike their co-workers 

Additionally, good morale is conducive to having employees who are more engaged in their work and efficient as well. Again, if the workplace is a positive one, employees at all levels will be able to:

  • focus on their work more
  • enjoy their work more
  • be more efficient and productive while doing it

There’s something to be said for the “vibe” of a workplace with good employee morale as well. In industries where employees are in contact with customers (e.g., the service industry), customers can tell when a group of employees has good morale and when they don’t. So in a very real sense, the way your employees feel while they work can influence how customers perceive your business.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to low workplace morale. But, there are at least many different options for trying to make the workplace one that your employees enjoy more.

Give one (or more!) of the suggestions outlined earlier a try to see if they help make a positive impact on the morale in your workplace. Once you figure out how to boost work morale in your organization, keep at it. Boosting morale is just part of the equation. Maintaining that high level of morale requires a commitment on your part to continue investing your time and energy to improve the workplace.

Sean Jackson

B.A. Social Studies Education | University of Wyoming

M.S. Counseling | University of Wyoming

B.S. Information Technology | University of Massachusetts

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