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How to Repair Staff Morale
Happy Staff equals Happy Working Environment
There are many factors which impact on the morale of staff and every business will go through a stage where morale is low. When your workplace loses its vibrancy, lacks energy, and seems to have a noticeably different “feel” over an extended period of time, these are symptoms of an employee morale problem.
Some of these factors which influence morale levels are:
- Negative changes to pay or working hours
- Bad Management (see article on Bossinators – the Terminators of morale)
- Poor working conditions
- Overly competitive environment
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of honest communication
- Micromanaging employees
- Excessive workloads for extended periods
- Fear of job loss / no job security (this is often felt by contract and temp workers)
- Innovation not rewarded - Failure to recognize employee achievement
Four Signs that your Employees are Unhappy
Going with the Flow - Your employees stops contributing, goes with the flow and does not even challenge ideas. This can often be a sign that your employees are disinterested, unhappy and not invested in the big plan. This will prevent their commitment to any changes.
Bare Minimum - When you find employees who have always gone above and beyond, are now only doing the bare minimum, this should be a red flag!! If employees are not feeling valued then morale will drop.
Internet and Phone Calls and Long Lunches – I am sure that this sounds familiar if you are sitting in a situation whereby staff morale is at an all-time low. Increased downtime is a major sign that your employee is unhappy.
Steers clear of chit chat and unsociable – When your team does not want to be involved with decisions, conversations or share their views and opinions; then this is a sign that something is wrong. Whether it is that your staff do not feel comfortable to share, whether they feel that their opinion is not valid – these are all signs of poor staff morale.
Good News - You Can Improve on Staff Morale
The good news is, that by making changes in the workplace to boost morale does not require a major employee overhaul, organizational restructuring or a large budget. When it comes to boosting employee morale, many companies assume that the only way to improve morale is to pay their employees more, but this simply is not true and money does not solve all problems. There are many simple, yet powerful, techniques you can use to instantly boost employee morale. Sometimes all it takes is a little teambuilding time. No matter how down in the dumps your team is, these techniques are guaranteed to spark positive change.
Firstly, just by listening to your employees, you will gain valuable insight into the mind of your employees. When I managed a large team, there was no budget for us to use to assist us in motivating our teams. Working hours where long, pay was minimal and the workloads and responsibilities that we carried were enormous. So morale was always a concern and a priority for me. Here are some of my suggestions:
Communication: Once again we see that good / clear communications is the most important tool for improving and maintaining your teams. I always believed in honesty with my team because employees need to understand what is expected of them and any information that will impact on them directly. When morale is low, these times demand more and better communication on a more personal level, such as asking employees for their ideas for improving processes or saving money. Communication is the key for any relationship and when communications are open, then there is the opportunity to improve of this. If you are unapproachable and keep all information to yourself, this will result in a communications shut-down and your team will not be able to trust that the information that they are receiving is the full and honest, truth.
Have a daily team meeting. This is one of the most effective ways to open up communications and my team loved it! When people are down, keeping it quiet will only make things worse. Every morning for about 20 minutes, I made sure that my team gathered for their daily check-in meeting where they were responsible for the running of this meeting. This meeting’s primary focus was not on the work that I needed to delegate or follow-up on, but rather for them to share their thoughts, concerns and for them to raise and resolve issues as a team. We all just gathered together in a circle and listened and supported each other. It was amazing how this really brought to team together, because having such a large team, we had people from very diverse backgrounds and it was so comforting to see how they learned so much more from each other than, just about work. Just by having this morning check-in it encouraged the team to act like a unit, celebrating each other’s religious celebrations, as well as supporting them through the joys and hardship within their personal lives. Another benefit of this short meeting, was the fact that our team had far less personal conflict issues and work errors than the other six teams, due to the fact that they worked together and supported each other.
Remember to say ‘thank you’. Sometimes all it takes for a person to feel valued and appreciated is for you to say ‘Thank You’ and it is always more rewarding when you openly praise your team for doing great work. Appreciation always increases morale.
Freedom of speech. There is nothing more frustrating or an individual that not being allowed to share their thoughts, opinions or views. When they are restricted in what they are allowed to say, it automatically causes negativity. Of course there is a time and place for your team to share their opinions, so it is a good idea to ensure that your team knows that your door is ALWAYS open to them. This will ensure that they feel comfortable to approach you and not leave things to bottle up AND they will be less likely to blurt out negative comments in front of the team or clients if they know that you are available to help. This is a huge step in instantly recovering staff morale.
Change the scenery. Even in a great workspace, emotions can fall when the physical environment stays the same. Get your team out of the office occasionally (for example: hold your morning check-ins in the garden or coffee shop instead of ALWAYS in the office). Get your entire team involved with charity events, this will not only get them out of the office, it will work as a form of ‘Team Building’ and may just be the spark you need to instantly improve morale.
Show your appreciation through small gestures. At least once a week I would arrange hotdogs, coffee or even just cupcakes for my team, just because. Just by showing your appreciation for all of the hard work that they are putting in, can increase the morale in the office.
Start an Employee Recognition programs: A good recognition program needs to be specific, for example you need to stipulate the criteria, such as
Recognitions Card Program
Requirements: Employees who receive a compliment or appreciation from a client or fellow staff member, will have these recognition cards entered into a monthly draw, whereby at the end of the month, the senior manager will gather all employees and draw the lucky winner.
The prize: This can be anything from a cake to time off of work, to monetary rewards.
As the Employer - you are responsible to ensure that your employee's morale is of good standing
Being responsible for a team’s morale can be quite challenging as you have to consider everyone’s values when trying to maintain a positive and performing environment. By incorporating a few of the above suggestions you will be surprised at the amazingly positive results that you achieve. Do whatever you can do to boost your staff's morale and you will see the difference.