Morale is defined as: The confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline of a person or group at a particular time.
When morale spirals down, it can seriously impede a business from functioning. Or worse. Should morale completely bottom out, it could cause a mass exodus of employees and (in serious cases) cause a company to fold.
That is why it is imperative that you know how to prevent company morale from diving into that dark abyss. But how? Believe it or not, it’s a question that is more difficult to ask than it is to answer. Why? Because in the asking, you may be admitting that the moral of your small business is flagging.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of. This type of issue can hit any type and size of the company. Whether you’re a mom and pop shop or a large QA service (such as BairseDev), company morale is something every owner and manager must cultivate and care for.
So, let’s do something about that, before your staff mutinies.
1. Communication is Key
This is probably the easiest thing you can do to ensure the morale of your employees doesn’t tank. By always keeping the lines of communication open and free, your staff will be more willing to come to you when there’s a problem.
If, on the other hand, you close up the communication pathways, your employees won’t feel as though they are able to bring their concerns to you. When those concerns go unexpressed, they fester and bubble until they turn into something far worse.
You can make this easy by always checking in with your staff. Ask them questions like:
- How are you doing?
- What kinds of challenges are you facing?
- What can I do to make your job better?
- Are you satisfied with your job?
- Are you satisfied with the job I’m doing?
Always make sure to present this as a two-way street and include you in on the problem/solution. Don’t make this communication feel as if it’s a place for an accusation. Remember, those staff members are people first and deserve your respect (just like you deserve their respect).
This is your best opportunity to get feedback from your employees. This feedback is a great way to find out what needs improving.
2. Incentive Programs
Employees react well to incentives. Reward staff members for going out of their way to satisfy a client, or for taking the initiative on a job. There are two keys to programs like this. First, make sure the rewards aren’t some chintzy grab-bag gift they could easily buy on their own. Make these rewards special.
At the same time, avoid making these programs come off as a competition. Instead of pitting staff against staff, make these programs such that they pit staff against themselves. In other words, reward employees for self-improvement, not for beating one another. Although friendly competition is good, it can easily get out of hand. You don’t want that.
3. Praise Employees
Nothing can drive morale into the ground faster than a staff that doesn’t feel appreciated. This goes beyond financial appreciation (although that does go a long, long way). You also need to make sure to praise those employees.
You might think their paycheck is praise enough. It’s not. Go above and beyond with the praise. Never hesitate to take to social media to say things like, “So proud of my staff for the job they’ve done!”, or “My company has the best employees ever!” It will surprise you how far praise will go to boost company morale.
Just make it honest.
4. Create a Fun Environment
Remember before the dot com bubble burst? Companies went out of their way to make the work environment a fun place to be. There was a good reason for that. People were spending a lot of time at work. It wasn’t uncommon for employees to spend upward of seventy hours a week at a job. That’s a lot of time to spend in a boring cubicle farm. On top of that, business had to go out of their way to attract top-tier employees.
A lot of tech companies, such as application testing services, get this. To that end, they include games, electric scooters, gathering rooms, frisbee fields, and other amenities to help make the work environment fun.
If your budget doesn’t allow for such things, you could always do movie nights or take the staff out to karaoke. You need to allow for those moments when you show your employees they are more than staff, but human beings.
5. Be Unique
Finally, create a work environment that is unique. Instead of just being another cookie-cutter company, build a culture of work that people want to come to. When your workplace is unique, it’ll stand out and people will have an easier time identifying with it.
One of the worst things you can do for company morale is nothing. When your work environment is bland and unappealing, morale is more likely to dive. Don’t be afraid to be a little weird, because people can embrace and enjoy that.