As a business owner, you're passionate about what your business does. However, it's a simple reality that your employees – while professional and invested in your enterprise – probably won't feel the same way. After all, while, for you, it's personal, for your staff, it is just a job.
While this may perhaps be a little unfair (after all, engaged employees who share in the company's vision are precisely the kind of people you should be recruiting and retaining), the bottom line is that your workforce needs more than blind faith in your product to remain productive and happy. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that staff morale always remains high, as people will always perform better if they're looking forward to coming into work each day.
Fortunately, there are many ways a company can raise team morale, cultivate job satisfaction and, in turn, improve the business and its profitability. To help, we've compiled some of these methods, each of which should feature heavily within your chosen leadership style.
So, if you're looking to give your team a little boost and reap the benefits of a happy workforce, this is how to improve employee morale.
Give your staff something to believe in
Regardless of the actual size of your organisation, employees are always part of something broader, and this 'bigger picture' is something that they should be made aware of. "From the first interview, potential candidates need to understand and share in the vision of what you are doing as an organisation," says HR expert Cheryl Conner. "That vision alone will motivate and inspire your team, down to its junior members, which comes back full circle in effectively facilitating company growth."
Giving employees feedback on their performance is something that you should be doing regardless, but if you're not, then its impact on morale is another reason to get your appraisal cycle in full swing.
If your staff are doing a good job, it's vital that you let them know – and to show them your appreciation, too. On the flip side, if they are not, then again give feedback, mentor them and show that you care about their development. You can also ask for their thoughts and ask them to provide feedback to you. Whatever the scenario, your employees will feel like you have their best interests at heart, while also allowing them to have their say – both signs that you value them as individuals and as employees.
As an employer, you should make decisions and stick to them, while also communicating to your employees why you are making these decisions. When everybody in the company is on the same page, trust improves massively, and people understand the bigger picture, meaning that they can see beyond the narrow tunnel of their own role or department.
Rightly or wrongly, it is basic human nature to do things because you know you will get something in return. Therefore, it is only natural to assume that if your employees have incentives, then they will perform better.
These incentives could be a trip abroad, a party, a bonus or indeed anything else that you think your employees would enjoy; the point is that it offers your workers that extra motivation. Even if your company is small and you cannot offer big, expensive incentives, you can still show your appreciation in little ways. "Your company may not be at a point that allows you to offer a competitive full benefits package. But you'd be surprised how far a few small (and inexpensive) benefits will go with your staff," says Conner. For example, these small incentives could be a gift voucher or a product that you know a certain employee will appreciate.
Set goals for employees to build team spirit and give them something to work towards. This will improve morale and productivity, meaning that the business performs better and your employees are happier – a cycle, in other words, where everybody wins.
Don't be uptight
If you are serious all the time, then employees will follow this pattern of behaviour. Indeed, although professionalism is important and running a business is undoubtedly serious work, there is much benefit in showing your personal, fun and caring side. Show your employees that you – and they – can joke around, too (within reason), and perhaps set some time aside for company drinks or a company outing.
In a more relaxed environment, you can build a more intimate relationship with your employees, show them that you are open to listening to them and even joke around while still caring that the job they do is a good one. You don't have to turn into a stand-up comedian, but by lightening the mood and being able to laugh and smile, your employees will feel far more comfortable in your presence.
Praise good work
As previously mentioned, if one of your employees does a particularly good job, then you need to let them know about it. This doesn't just mean pulling someone into your office and shaking their hand, either. For instance, social media is a great way to show off the excellent work of your employees, as it showcases your company's talent while allowing your staff to shine.
Just make sure you treat everyone equally, give praise where praise is due in every circumstance and don't be afraid to let the world and the rest of the team know.
Give them room to grow
As a startup, one of the biggest reasons you're likely to lose staff is a perceived lack of growth; nobody wants to feel like a tree and be stuck in the same place forever, after all. If you show your staff that there is room to grow within your company, those employees who have potential, drive and ambition will relish the chance to show you why they deserve to be promoted or moved into a better position.
Keep an eye on your employees' skill sets, see what they excel at and ask if there are any seminars or workshops they would like to attend to improve their knowledge. Employees will see you care about each one of them and their work goals, as well as feeling like there is a long-term future for them.
Essentially, improving employee morale is about taking the time to invest – not just financially, but emotionally and professionally. Create a work environment where people feel comfortable to express themselves and enable them to reach their personal goals as much as you can.
It's in your interest to do so, too, as a happy workforce is a productive one; follow these steps, and your best people will want to stay, while others will want to be a part of your organisation.
What other tips would you suggest for improving employee morale? Let us know in the comment section below.