5 Ways to Improve Employee Morale in the Workplace on a Budget
Employee happiness is one of the ingredients that ultimately leads to long-term business success, so as a business owner or manager you should always be on the lookout for warning signs of poor employee morale or methods to increase it. Better employee morale has been linked to more productivity, less employee turnover and higher profits. This guide will go over five ways that you can improve employee morale while staying within budget.
1. Give Employees More Control Over Their Schedules
This is a change that may seem like a bad idea on the surface, but it is becoming more and more common in modern businesses and has worked out for many. Not only does it increase employee morale, but it also saves costs and even increases productivity, so it benefits your budget and your employees. At the end of the day, your employees are adults and are likely to appreciate being treated as such.
There are several options for how to implement this. Perhaps one of the most common and popular is allowing, or even requiring, employees to work remotely at least once a week, if not more. With advancements in technology, most occupations can easily do their work remotely, where you have access to e-mail, office suite programs and video chat programs for conference calls or collaboration. One of the major benefits of this is obvious – with employees working from home even one day of the week, that means your office is unoccupied, saving heating/AC and electricity costs. Employees will also appreciate being able to spend more time with their families and ditching the commute. Another option is to allow employees more control over their off hours and vacation time, so long as they are doing a good job and remain productive on the clock. This demonstrates to your employees that you trust them and will thus raise their morale. It also prevents them from needing to spend time in the office during traditional work hours when there isn’t much work for them to do.
This is not a decision or change to be made at your company lightly. As with all major policy changes, it should be carefully written and planned out, and discussed with both employees and management before being implemented. Do a careful analysis of cost, though in most cases these changes are likely to save your company money.
2. Volunteer As A Group
Donating money or supplies to local causes gives your business some good publicity and advertising, but you can take this a step further and get your team actively involved in a volunteer activity. Gather ideas from your employees about what they might want to do and what causes they might want to support. Organizing a charitable event or volunteering at one is a low-cost option that gets employees feeling as though they are involved with a team that cares and is looking to do something good in the world, and the outing can serve as a bonding exercise for your staff that will carry over into their everyday work.
3. Recognize Accomplishments
You can do this publicly in a meeting or privately by pulling an employee aside to congratulate them, but publicly is usually the better option as that broadcasts just how much you appreciate what your employees do for you. The important thing here is not to breed resentment – you want some healthy competition in your office, but you don’t want any one employee to feel less valued or looked over. If you have a good team, they should all have accomplished a lot and played an important role in your company’s success, and honoring that will make them feel good and boost morale.
4. Let Problem Employees Go
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your team’s morale is to let go problem employees. You know the ones: they have a bad attitude, clients and fellow employees are complaining about them, they always blame others for their failures and perhaps they even behave in a bullying or harassing manner. Perhaps they’re simply not the right fit for the job or for your team and are starting to show signs of misery themselves. These are the employees you need to seriously consider letting go or moving to a different department or role. This is especially true if their behavior is getting worse and the entire office is suffering for it.
While it is true that you are looking at hiring replacements and the costs that will incur, the cost of retaining an employee who is a poor fit can be even higher. In many cases, all it takes is one employee with a poor attitude to sour your office’s working environment and bring down everyone’s productivity and morale.
Now, it is usually not a wise idea to terminate an employee like this with no warning. Do what you can to improve the performance of problem employees. Carefully outline in what areas they are lacking and give them a chance to improve, but set a time limit on it and let them go if you don’t see marked improvement.
5. Encourage Ideas And Innovation
All employees like to feel as though they matter, that their ideas are considered and that their work is of good use to the company. Encourage them to try out new ways of doing things, speak their minds and experiment with new innovations.
This can be tricky when you entirely disagree with what an employee would like to do or see happen. The best way to combat this is to pull the employee aside and have a serious conversation about why you don’t want them doing something differently or why their idea is not good. For example, their idea might have been tried before and hasn’t worked. If this is the case, do press them to see what new ideas they could bring to the table that might make their suggestion a success this time around. Be careful that your reason doesn’t boil down to “this is just the way it’s always been done.” If that is your only objection to an employee wanting to do something differently, you should take a long hard look at the way your organization is being run.
Remember, that no matter what methods you try to build team morale, you must always lead by example. If you aren’t excited about volunteering, have little faith in letting your employees set their own schedules or are always overly critical of new ideas in spite of encouraging them, you’re going to defeat your purpose. Lead by example, consider the methods outlined above and you should have a more engaged workforce without having to invest a lot of money to do so.