For any business, employee morale is the engine that propels your company forward or brings it to a steering halt.
Now more than ever, ensuring your employees are getting the support they need to bring their best selves forward is vital for creating a healthy and productive workplace.
High turnover, decreased collaboration and profitability loss, are just some of the many consequences that low employee morale brings.
Which can be further defined as the overall outlook, attitude, satisfaction, and confidence that employees feel at work.
As a manager, it’s time to take these challenges and turn them into opportunities for growth in areas that reflect it most such as communication, recognition, proper management and personal development.
1. Prioritize Ongoing one-on-ones
The saying “communication is key” doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships but to the ones you have with your employees as well.
There’s nothing more discouraging than an employee having a work issue and seeing their manager’s coloured-coded calendar fully booked. Frequent communication doesn’t need to be elaborate or time-consuming.
It can be a simple weekly 10-minute check-in either in person or through audio or video chat.
After all, the best way to prioritize communication is to regularly schedule time for it.
A recent study found that 82% of employees with at least weekly one-on-ones say they’re getting the support they need during the pandemic from their managers, compared to 66% of those with less frequent one-on-ones.
This is why it’s important to have a streamlined communication system that allows employees to easily contact their managers without it feeling like a waiting period that resembles being on hold with customer service.
Employees who have a safe space to express their concerns and have their voices heard feel more appreciated in the long run.
2. Reward and Recognize with Incentives
As much as words can make a person’s day, taking it a step further by leveraging what you already have to reward employees speaks volumes.
Take Jim Achey, Director of Ski School “Elk Mountain” for instance. As a way to boost employee morale during these difficult times, he leveraged the resort to spread the joy of skiing with employees by offering free passes for their family and friends.
Additionally, he rewarded employees at the beginning of the season with increased pay and encouraged them to progress their careers by offering scholarship funds.
With the right mindset and resources in place, Jim successfully boosted employee morale and was able to keep the atmosphere positive and light, a goal he strived to achieve all along.
If you don’t know where to start with incentives, take a page from Jim’s book by offering free or discounted company services to your employees’ friends and family.
From there you can build upon it by polling employees on what they’d like.
Nothing says “I value your opinion and well-being” more than getting straight to the source.
When it comes to incentives, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all, which is why variety is key.
3.Train Managers to Become Mentors
Here’s the cold hard truth: People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.
As much as salary, work/life balance and benefits all come into play, various studies, including a popular Gallup one revealed how managers account for at least 70% of the variation in employee engagement.
In other words: Managers play a big role in affecting an employee’s level of engagement in the workplace.
Without proper engagement, employee morale takes a turn for the worse.
Employees who had a manager that mentored them were much more likely to stick around in the long run than those that didn’t.
Since a manager is the most obvious form of a mentor for an employee, it’s important to address whether they are leadership material or not.
Managers with leadership don’t just push for high performance or meeting monthly quotas imposed by their superiors.They take it a step further by helping employees discover their talents and seek opportunities to leverage and develop their strengths.
If a manager lacks this kind of leadership and prefers to simply delegate the communication aspect of their management, they can always help in finding a mentor for employees inside or outside the company to foster employee growth.
Not only will it strengthen the employee-manager bond held but employees will appreciate that they care about their personal growth.
4. Improve your Workplace with “Fast Feedback”
There’s a reason why most managers have a love/hate relationship with feedback.
As much as they enjoy learning from their mistakes, nobody likes hearing about areas they struggle with the most.
Yet, honest feedback allows managers to build on their strengths as well as identify and improve on their areas of weaknesses. Which, as it turns out employees are the number one resource for that.
“The greatest managers across all industries are the ones who can take an honest look at what they need to improve upon, and use every means available to them for gauging that information.”
Feedback shouldn’t be a one-way street and only briefly asked for in annual employee reviews. Annual feedback isn’t going to help managers learn and grow from their mistakes.
Since most employees don’t want to spend a half-hour filling out a lengthy survey, a more efficient and less demanding approach is through a workforce trend called “fast feedback”.
Fast feedback, otherwise known as “pulse surveys” involves asking real-time information on how employees feel. These are done through questions that pop up on their mobile or desktop screen on a weekly basis.
Think of them as quick temperature checks that prompt conversation and provide context to an employee’s yearly survey results. Unlike annual reviews, these snap polls spark conversation and insight into an employee’s headspace which if unsatisfactory, prompts action.
This allows managers to gauge their employee’s state of mind without having to receive a surprising two-week notice.
Questions can be as work specific as “Do you feel that your manager listens to you?” or revolve around the latest company implementations like summer hours or benefits packages.
The most important part is showing that their feedback does lead to change by taking action.
Keeping employee morale high is an ongoing process, but the right support, motivation and resources in place can make a difference in the long run.
Prioritizing one on ones, rewarding employees with incentives and offering fast feedback are just some of the many proven ways to boost employee morale.
The important part is getting management to take a stand and commit to finding the right course of action to keep employees motivated Embracing change that positively benefits everyone is a win/win.
After all, motivation=productivity.