Effective leaders are in tune with their workplace enough to recognize when employee morale is down. The mood of the office shifts in a way they can sense. There may be fewer conversations between employees. There may be a decrease in employee initiative or collaboration. Or, the turnover rate might be growing. Whatever the indicator is, that leader knows when there is a cloud over the office.
If you are dealing with low morale, don’t worry. There are many things you can do to roll that cloud away. They all involve focusing on improving the overall satisfaction that your employees have about their work.
Actively Engage Employees
Employees with low morale are often the ones who are disengaged from their work and the workplace. When employees are disengaged, not only are they less productive, but they can spread their lack of engagement throughout the office. It’s up to you to re-engage those employees.
You can engage them by encouraging them to speak up. When employees are uncomfortable with sharing their ideas or giving feedback to their managers, they feel as though they don’t matter. You can combat this feeling by actively creating opportunities for employees to speak their minds. This means more than having an “open door policy.” Try holding roundtables where employees can ask questions and discuss whatever is on their minds. Or, have one-on-ones where you can have a more personal interaction.
Make Work Rewarding
How can an employee have a high level of morale when they believe that their work is meaningless? It’s impossible. However, regardless of the type of work your employees do each day, there are ways to make it meaningful.
There are three keys to meaningful work. The first key is autonomy. Let your employees be in control of their own choices. Provide them the tools they need to do their job well, then let them do it. You’ll find that they’ll take more responsibility for their work and want to do a good job.
The second key is complexity. Do your employees have jobs where their work is the same every day? If so, give them the opportunity to improve and master new skills. This means challenging your employees. Push them beyond their everyday duties to handle a project that they’ve never done before.
The third key is seeing the payoff. Your employees must see a direct connection between effort and results. They will feel satisfaction when they know that what they do each day matters. To satisfy this need, spend more time sharing with your employees the outcomes of their work. Let them know if their department outshined other departments. If their work contributed to record profits for the organization, share that information with them.
Employees who find their work meaningful will perform at a higher level. When their performance exceeds what they’ve done in the past, or helps the department or organization achieve a milestone, you should reward them in some way. Make sure you go beyond a simple “thank you.” Publicly acknowledge the employee and present them with a tangible token of appreciation.
Create a Pleasant Work Environment
It’s extremely hard to have low morale in your workplace when your employees enjoy coming to work. That’s why you should do as much as you can to create a pleasant work environment. Arcade games and table tennis are fun and can be real morale boosters. However, you’ll find that simple things can make your workplace an inviting and comfortable place to be.
Try transforming the décor in your office space. Keep blinds open to let in natural light. Add green plants. Hang some artwork. You can also paint the walls to get rid of the drab grey or boring white. Consider the color blue. It’s a calming color that instills trust and conveys loyalty.
Another thing you can add to the mix is providing a daily lunch to your employees. This goes beyond having a break room with a refrigerator and free coffee. When you offer lunch as a benefit, your employees will appreciate it. No longer will they have to spend time each day figuring out which restaurant they want to spend their time and money at. They now have the convenience of eating healthy, good tasting food right in the office.
How the office looks, and what benefits employees receive, are just a part of the equation. It’s also important how you make your employees feel. Ask yourself how approachable you are. Do you believe that your direct reports feel comfortable approaching you? If not, do what you can to make yourself more approachable.
Remember that employee morale deals with the overall satisfaction that employees have about their work. Boosting moral is easier than you think. Simply focus on creating a pleasant work environment and engaging your employees in ways that makes their workday more rewarding.