If you’ve ever run a business, you know how difficult it can be to find and keep good people. We’re talking about those people that make your business run and make it look easy. Those people are hard to find and making sure they stay motivated and happy is even harder. Today, employee morale is more critical than ever, and smart business owners know that they should put forth the effort to improve employee morale.
Here are 5 ways to improve employee morale, with several examples of each idea.
How to Improve Employee Morale in the Office: 5 Creative Employee Morale Ideas
We usually equate positive employee morale with a good mood or a pervasive good vibe in the office. But the actual meaning carries some pretty interesting connotations. According to sociologist Alexander Leighton:
"Morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose."
This shines a whole new light on employee morale, right? If you’re interested in employee morale ideas to assist your office staff and remote workers, it might take looking past happiness (although that never hurts) to find new ways to pull your team together. And more often than not, that means finding new ways to bring out their best.
For those of you interested in employee morale ideas for your workforce, we’ve created a proven list of what we have seen work with our clients, and have broken it up into the five key ideas to boost employee morale.
1. Boost Employee Morale By Celebrating Accomplishments
It’s easy to find criticism in the workplace. When something doesn’t go right, we all hear about it. We have post mortem meetings (if that term doesn’t kill morale, what will?) and we try to find ways to improve.
But how often do we celebrate accomplishments? Probably not often enough. Some ideas to improve office morale include a good mix of employee recognition, positive feedback, and celebration of everything that’s gone right this week, last month, or during the year. Tell your people that their actions are moving the needle, and find creative ways to do it. It’s a free way to improve employee morale. Try, for example, compiling a list of all their accomplishments over the year and publishing it during the holiday season.
How to Celebrate Accomplishments at Work
1. Keep an Accomplishment Journal
When your company accomplishes something, write it down. Whether it’s a logbook, an office white board, or a blog, keeping a journal that outlines and celebrates victories really improves morale. Just make sure to track the small accomplishments as well as the larger ones. And whatever form your journal takes, keep it accessible and visible.
2. Develop a Ritual
When something goes right, celebrate it with a ritual. Drinks, food, or a virtual party can do wonders when boosting employee morale in the workplace.
3. Reward Accomplishments
Employees respond to rewards because they help them feel validated and appreciated. Next time you experience a big win in the office, reward your employees with an extra day off, a movie, gift cards, or even a note that expresses how you feel.
4. Throw in a Office or Virtual Party
Far too often accomplishments are only celebrated in secret by upper management when it’s the front line workers who need the encouragement. Include your staff in company successes by throwing a monthly or quarterly in office or virtual party. It doesn’t have to be huge, but a small celebration to recognize progress can go a long way in improve employee morale as well as strengthening relationships between employees.
2. Keep Employees Engaged with Passion Projects
We’ve all heard of the Google 20% rule. The internet giant lets its employees dedicate 20% of their time during work to projects they’re passionate about. It’s a policy that goes beyond increasing morale; it’s turned Google into one of the most sought-after places to work. Letting your employees dedicate some of their time to the things they’re passionate about could pay big dividends in the morale department.
1. Highlight Passion
You might not know it, but your employees are doing some pretty incredible things outside of work. They’re creating things, doing things, and making a big difference. Take some time on your corporate blog, meeting, or newsletter to spotlight individual employees and promote whatever it is they’re passionate about.
2. Start a Passion Fund
Your people have great ideas, and they’re willing to work tirelessly to make them happen. Unfortunately, many lack the means to take those ideas to another level. Start a passion fund to help. Like a scholarship, a passion fund can be awarded to an employee or multiple employees to pursue whatever it is they’re working on. And if their project has a real business benefit, consider funding and sponsoring it.
3. Expand the Table
As you get to know your employees and learn what they’re passionate about, invite them to meetings you feel like they could contribute to. Instead of outsourcing a design project, find someone inside your own office walls who’s passionate about design first.
3. Highlight Company Values to Boost Employee Morale
Right now, we’re seeing an interesting shift in society as well as the workplace. As more baby boomers retire, they’re being replaced by millennials who come to work with different values. They care about experience over things, for example. And here’s a pretty interesting tidbit: 63% of Millennials want their employer to contribute to social or ethical causes they felt were important. That’s a big increase over baby boomers. Engaging in community service or outreach programs can engage your workers and shoot your employee morale through the roof.
1. Do Some Pro Bono
Whether you work at an accounting firm or a design agency, there are always opportunities to share your craft with someone in need—and do it for free. While taking on extra, unpaid work might seem like a drag, studies show that employees prefer to work on pro bono projects. It improves employee morale because people feel like their talents are being used towards a greater good.
2. Adopt A Cause
Get your employees together and ask them which causes they’re passionate about. Get specific, too. Find out what charities they donate their money and time to. Then have them vote on a cause that your company could sponsor. Sure, this could be a monetary contribution, but you have other resources at your disposal as well. If your cause is homeless pets, for example, you can have an ongoing company-wide sign-up sheet to volunteer at the shelter.
3. Think Community First
It’s easy to champion big, huge causes. After all, we all want to fight cancer or end homelessness. But those are already being championed on a massive scale. A sure-fire way to boost or improve employee morale is making a small difference in the communities your employees live in. Find the park that could use a facelift, the homeless shelter that needs some canned goods. The opportunities are endless, and the impact is enormous when you think small.
4. Casual Fridays for Employee Happiness
Yes, there are still a lot of industries where a suit and tie are still the norm. But if you absolutely don’t need it, what’s the point? Letting your employees go casual doesn’t hurt anything. Just the opposite, actually. Getting to wear jeans to work improves morale like you wouldn’t believe. And if you’re still clinging to business casual promoting a professional atmosphere, you might want to reconsider. Just look at some of the top performing companies out there. Most of them don’t have a dress code.
This is one of those simple, free employee morale ideas that can go the furthest. Read on for some more employee morale ideas that keep it casual.
Keep It Casual
1. Furry Fridays
If puppies don’t improve employee morale, nothing will. Let’s face it: people love their pets. Give them an opportunity to bring their four-legged friends in on Fridays. We guarantee you’ll see an increase in smiles—and office morale.
2. Theme Days
Who doesn’t like wearing an ugly Christmas sweater or repping an alma matter with a t-shirt? A great way to instill some much-needed informality in the office while improving morale is to theme several days during the year. The themes can be anything you can possibly think of. Best of all, theme days are completely free.
3. Trash the Titles
When possible, consider getting rid of formal titles. While titles can play important roles in peoples’ professional lives, they can also create an atmosphere that’s much too formal and stringent. So if you don’t have to absolutely go by Senior Vice President of Innovation, think about going by Director of Fun.
5. Keep Employees Happy with Spontaneous Celebrations
Nothing stagnates employee morale like a stagnant office. Mix things up. Let your employees work from home once in a while, if your team primarily works in the office. Hold a company potluck in the middle of the week. Turn daily, mundane tasks into a competition. The more variety, spontaneity, and diversion you can throw into your workplace, the more you’ll see an increase in employee morale.
Mix It Up
1. Summer Fridays
Nobody wants to be stuck in a fluorescent-lit office during the summer—especially on a Friday. This is a great opportunity to integrate an morale idea. Instead, think about letting your employees take a few summer Fridays to spend outdoors with their families. It will pay big dividends in the morale department.
2. In Office or Virtual Happy Hours
Don’t merely assume that your employees want to rush home right after work. For many, the relationships they have in the office are some of their most valuable. Encourage, sponsor, or even host a happy hour after work.
3. Group Exercise
During an eight-hour workday, we need to be invigorated to do our best. Instituting group exercises at work during the day or week doesn’t just enhance office employee morale; it can help your employees work more efficiently and bring out their best. This doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Consider, for example, guided meditation or virtual yoga.
4. That One Weird Thing
Whether it’s a pinball machine or the mounted moose head, think of something weird and unique that only your office has. This builds culture and a sense of identity, and it can help your employees take pride in the office.
We hope these employee morale ideas are helpful for your team!
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