You don’t need an MBA in project management to recognize when your employees lack in focus or motivation. But fixing the problem? That’s another issue.
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You know low company morale when you see it.
Your co-workers sit by themselves in small cubicles with headsets on, only speaking up to complain about going nowhere in their jobs. The only interactions you have are during holiday parties, water-cooler soap opera updates or when workers send gossip about other employees in emails. Even if the company is doing well, no one really wants to be there, and at 5 p.m., there’s a drag race to get out of the parking lot.
You don’t need a or hold an to recognize when there’s a lack in focus or motivation. From top to bottom, employee morale is dictated by interest – or lack of it – by managers in the efforts of their charges. Many workers will confess that they feel unappreciated, underutilized and, worst of all, unheard. And worker who believes others at the company block all their efforts to be creative or productive is just a symptom of an endemic problem at the workplace.
So here are three solid, positive ways to remedy morale issues:
1. Change the culture
When you change the culture of the company into one that fosters as much praise and support as it does suggestions for improvement, morale takes a turn for the better.
Lea Hartog of recommends starting an employee recognition program. That means setting goals and benchmarks that help employees track progress, look forward to completing projects, and feel appreciated when they get a hearty thanks from their manager. Adding a wall plaque with the names of monthly employees who hit or exceed their goals lets workers know they’re a recognized and a valued member of the team.
2. Manage with ethics and compassion
Holding employees to company standards is one thing. Offering employee training, in-house support and actually listening to your staff breaks the invisible wall between leadership and workers.
Encourage team play where colleagues collaborate on meeting goals, each bringing their own talents to the table. Never criticize a worker’s performance in front of their colleagues. And wherever possible, create a clearly articulated path to success for each worker.
3. Make clear communication priority one
Check in with each employee regularly. A worker sitting alone angrily in a cube, loathing the email they just received from another staffer, is brutal on morale. Getting the two in the same physical location to work on their real or imagined differences can get things moving.
According to , direct, respectful communication can do more for morale than a quarterly bonus.
Establish and keep the lines of communication between you and your employees open. Routine team meetings and morale-boosting company lectures can be deadly, keeping workers from completing their daily goals. Instead, have consistent face-to-face meetings with workers where only one employee is called away from their desk and can schedule around it.
Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics at Warwick Business School, told The Observer that “human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity.” are tend to be more productive at work and work harder toward their goals.
When push comes to shove, employees love perks like free food and coffee, casual Fridays, chair massages, happy hours and staff picnics. But what really makes a worker loyal is the satisfaction they receive from knowing they’re appreciated, and the opportunity to express and develop their talents.
Woodrow Aames has written articles and profiles for Yahoo, Microsoft Network, Microsoft Encarta, and other websites and print magazines around the world. He holds an MFA degree, has taught English abroad, and is currently researching to further his curiosity in web design and graphics.