Employers hear a lot about the importance of employee engagement and keeping morale high. And with good reason: Engaged, happy employees are among the best assets that any company can have. Not only are they less likely to leave (limiting costly turnover), but they are more productive, have lower rates of absenteeism, and are more likely to support great customer service and a healthy bottom line. In short, when your employees like their jobs and are happy to do them, it shows in every aspect of your business.
The question then, is how do you go about improving office morale and building that engagement? We’ve gathered advice and inspiration from thought leaders in multiple industries to help you get started on providing office morale boosters.
Bring Fun Back Into the Office
Is your workplace a quiet, dull place where everyone keeps to themselves and focuses on nothing but work — and everything is serious all the time? Do employees ever get the chance to kick back and relax with each other, and have some fun? According to author and communications expert Cheryl Conner, if not, you are doing your office morale a major disservice. Conner notes that when employees get the chance to play together — whether it’s an afternoon spent at a bowling alley, a summer barbecue bash, or a full-on overnight retreat — they build relationships that helps to improve employee retention. Having some fun not only lets your team blow off some steam, but also gives you the chance to remind them that you appreciate their work. So, don’t be afraid to incorporate some fun into your workplace and let loose a little bit.
Everyone likes a pat on the back for a job well done and acknowledging your employee’s hard work and accomplishments can contribute to better morale. One of the primary reasons that people leave their jobs is lack of acknowledgement, which is why Marcus Erb, the CEO of Great Place to Work, recommends that companies take the time to recognize and celebrate employee accomplishments. According to Erb, some companies ask employees to list their biggest achievements each year, and then choose some of the best ones to share company-wide. However, you can start smaller: During department meetings, ask your team to share their “wins” for the week or month for recognition, or develop a reward and recognition program that recognizes employees who achieve great things.
One cause of low morale is employees feeling like they don’t have a voice in the company, or that they aren’t being heard. However, business coach Neen James says that actually listening to employees and paying attention to them is key to a happy and engaged workforce. She recommends surveying employees for their opinions and ideas about their work and the company and establishing focus groups to give people the chance to provide feedback and share ideas. Doing so, she says, provides better insight into what excites and motivates your employees, while also identifying potential barriers to engagement.
Provide Career Development
Andrew Chamberlain, the chief economist at Glassdoor.com, has a great deal of experience and insight into what leads to employee turnover, and what keeps employees engaged. He recently worked with other data scientists and identified the factors that encourage employees to stay — and career development opportunities are close to the top of the list. He points out that when employees are allowed to stagnate in a role, and don’t have any opportunity for new challenges and titles, are more likely to leave for a better opportunity elsewhere. Therefore, while pay and company culture are important to maintaining morale, ample opportunities for advancement and development are just as important.
Get to Know Your Employees
Almost everyone has been taught that professionalism demands that employees leave their personal life at the door when they come to work. However, Kevin Delaney, the vice president of Learning and Development at LinkedIn, notes that it’s all but impossible to keep “real life” out of the office, and the expectation that workers put aside the things happening in their lives outside of work is not only unrealistic, but detrimental to individual mental health and the overall morale of the office. Delaney recommends creating a culture in which employees don’t have to keep their work and personal lives separate, and where leaders know what’s happening and can provide support when necessary. When employees believe that their company cares about them as people, they are more likely to be loyal and engaged.
Fostering an engaged workforce is a complex mix, and not all office morale boosters work with all teams, However, a common thread among most thought leaders is that to keep morale high, it’s important for employers to treat employees as people, not just cogs in a machine. When you let them be themselves, help them grow, listen, and acknowledge them, then you’re more likely to have a happy workforce and keep employee retention high.