There’s no way around it — employee morale took a hit as organizations worldwide adjusted to the new normal. It’s no surprise that 65% of employers had trouble maintaining morale during these trying times. When morale is low, performance suffers and customer satisfaction drops. Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to boost morale. Here’s some of the biggest culprits when it comes to unhappy employees and eight of the best ways to boost morale.
What causes low employee morale?
Employee morale is complex, and what matters to one team member might not have any impact on another. But there are some core factors that can bring morale down across the board:
- Burnout. Burnout is incredibly unpleasant for both employees and employers. And according to a recent report by Indeed, 52% of workers are feeling burned out in our post-pandemic world.
- Poor leadership. Few things have a greater impact on the employee experience than managers and company leadership. Micromanagement, a lack of transparency, and many other negative factors can reduce the morale of entire teams.
- Lack of growth opportunities. If you don’t see ways to keep developing at your organization, chances are you won’t be thrilled about working there. Millennials especially value opportunities for professional development — 60% would forego regular pay raises for a job with the potential for great development.
Now let’s take a look at what you can do to keep these factors in check.
Top 6 ways to boost employee morale
Recognition, feedback, wellness — focusing on these and other important parts of the employee experience is the key to high morale.
1. Prioritize employee recognition
Employees who feel appreciated feel happy. While a simple “thank you” goes a long way, making recognition a consistent morale booster requires much more. It starts with encouraging frequent recognition so everyone gets in the habit. And leaders play a key role in this effort.
“As a leader, your recognition goes a long way. Whether it's celebrating a milestone or giving a simple thank you note, every recognition has the power to impact employee engagement and morale.” - Jeff Cates, CEO and President, Achievers
When you recognize frequently, in real time, it becomes that much easier to make recognition personal. By linking appreciation to specific behaviors, you encourage employees to repeat them. In fact, 92% of employees say that they’re more likely to repeat actions they’re recognized for.
It all boils down to building a culture of recognition where everyone feels connected as part of a community. To accomplish this, you need a comprehensive recognition solution. Look for one that lets team members show appreciation anywhere, anytime, with an intuitive user interface and robust mobile capabilities. A platform also makes publicizing recognition easy through a company-wide newsfeed and the ability to like, comment on, or award additional points (“boost”) specific recognitions. And personalization becomes that much simpler when you can add related gifs or photos.
2. Give employees a voice
Few things are more demoralizing than feeling like your opinion doesn’t matter. Employees want a voice, and they want employers to listen when they speak. Soliciting and acting on feedback increases engagement as well, and keeping employees motivated is just as important as keeping them happy.
Talking to employees in person and asking for their input is great, but it’s not likely to reveal their true feelings. If you want the insights from your surveys to be relevant and actionable, you need to deliver them frequently, not just once a year. Pulse surveys — short, focused questionnaires — are the answer, together with an always-on feedback channel that lets team members provide feedback whenever they have something to say. Look for a voice of the employee solution that provides both, and that guides managers as they create collaborative action plans with their teams to address problems feedback reveals.
“Long-term stress can cause anger, irritability, headaches and sadness, as well as chronic susceptibility to viruses and infections. If your workplace fosters tension, it’s time to gather employee feedback and ask your team how the workflow needs to change.” - Vanessa Brangwyn, Chief Customer Officer, Achievers
3. Support health and wellness
It’s no secret that organizations need to support employees’ mental and physical health, but many haven’t risen to the task in these trying times. Anxiety caused the majority of U.S. employees to struggle in 2020, and almost half say their mental health has suffered while working remotely.
How can you promote wellness at your company? Start by understanding what efforts will make the most impact. You’ll need employee feedback to get a truly accurate picture — while 80% of employers believe they’re supporting employee wellness, only 46% of employees agree.
“Our understanding of the mental wellbeing of those around us is no longer about talking about change, but truly listening and acting on this intel. Empathy is our data set and it’s time we started using it to create sustainable momentum to lower levels of work-induced strain.” - Mimi Nicklin, Millennial Author and Thought Leader
Giving employees adequate resources, providing the flexibility and time off needed for a healthy work-life balance, and encouraging physical activity are all fantastic ways to support employee wellbeing. You can also reward employees who adopt healthy habits and meet their wellness goals. Find a rewards solution that integrates with wellness tools to make recognizing your wellness superstars easy.
To improve your employees’ mental health, help them practice mindfulness and self-awareness. These skills enable team members to stay in tune with their emotions and better address them. You can also train team members on emotional intelligence — especially managers — to build an empathetic, close-knit workforce.
4. Live your culture and values
Employees who buy into your culture and believe in your values are happy to be a part of your company. Look out for ways to keep your culture aligned with your employees’ expectations and needs. Leaders — especially managers — play a critical role here. Most employees say that managers have the primary responsibility for establishing company culture. To keep managers accountable for building the culture you want to see, ensure that they live your values on a daily basis and actively engage with employees on key aspects of your culture.
You should make a safe, welcoming environment a core part of your culture as well. In an organization that prioritizes psychological safety, employees are comfortable being themselves and expressing their opinions. Removing this huge source of potential stress does wonders for morale.
5. Emphasize communication and connection
In this era of remote work and disconnection, building a sense of community throughout your organization is more important than ever. A startling one-third of employees now feel disconnected from their team members and company culture. This has a significant impact on morale: 44% of employees experience lower morale due to isolation.
Encouraging transparent communication is a great way to counteract this. When employees can quickly access important information and see that leadership works to stay authentic no matter what they’re discussing, they’ll view the company — and their role within it — more positively. Using tools that make communication easy, no matter where team members find themselves, helps your employees stay connected as well.
6. Build trust by empowering your employees
Trust is the foundation of any successful workplace. Unfortunately, only 21% of HR professionals and leaders believe that employees really trust their organization’s leadership. It’s hard to keep your spirits up when you don’t believe in those who are setting the agenda.
The best way to establish mutual trust with employees is by demonstrating your trust in them through employee empowerment. Instead of micromanaging, give employees space. Instead of doing everything yourself, coach and delegate. Employees thrive when they have the resources, autonomy, and authority they need to succeed. They won’t forget who made that success possible, and they'll show trust in you and the company in return.
Supporting professional development is an integral part of empowering your employees and building trust. Offering everyone at your organization the possibility of advancement along clear career paths, providing opportunities for continuous learning and knowledge sharing, and even supporting sensible lateral moves are just some of the ways you can keep your team members from feeling that they’ve hit a dead end.
Start boosting employee morale today
With the incredible capabilities of modern HR software, there’s no reason to delay putting the recommendations above into practice. Achievers Recognize is a complete recognition solution that lets everyone on your team show appreciation and give reward points anywhere, anytime. And Achievers Listen makes it easy to see what your employees truly value and keep track of how you’re meeting their needs through frequent pulse surveys and an always-on feedback channel.
With Achievers, you’ll get results. Achievers customers are:
107% more likely to give their culture of recognition a high rating than organizations that don’t use recognition technology — and 54% more likely than customers of other technology providers.
2.5x more likely to see increased employee retention.
36% more likely to see an increase in employee engagement.
3.6x more likely than customers of other providers to give recognition multiple times each month.
33% more likely to rate their employer brand higher than customers of Achievers’ competitors.
Achievers Recognize even integrates with WellRight, a leading corporate wellness platform, so you can incentivize healthy habits and reward wellness milestones.
Ready to see the impact of Achievers for yourself? Try a free demo today.