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Five Smart Ways to Boost Employee Morale

Boost staff motivation—and step up productivity as a result.

July 1, 2019 | by Jo Cipolla

Smart business executives spend a lot of time worrying about employee morale. They know it has huge ramifications for their company’s growth. Organizations with the highest number of engaged employees are twice as likely to succeed than those with the lowest, according to a Gallup study. One company at the top of the job satisfaction charts is Hilton. They topped the 2019 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list because employees say the company “invests in me and my team, and encourages an entrepreneurial approach to our work.” At SquareFoot we’ve observed a strong correlation between growing, entrepreneurial-minded companies and management that is thoughtful about employee morale. The key to improving staff motivation is to reward a job well done and make employees feel cared for. Here are five great ideas to improve employee morale.

State Your Values

Spelling out the core goals of your company increases employee confidence in your mission and boosts staff motivation. One study found that organizations who pair recognition with core values—rather than metrics like performance—have a much higher retention rate. Millennials, who represent almost half today’s working population, are especially concerned with this issue. They’re part of a generation raised to believe they could change the world and they want to know their job matters, explains Lisa Earle McLeod, an author and speaker who advises fast growth firms. The entire team at the activewear brand Outdoor Voices has a monthly all-hands meeting called “The Smile,” where founder Tyler Haney shares what is top of mind for her.

Allow for Feedback

It’s essential to create a safe way for employees to raise issues that affect their work and to voice their ideas. Some companies hold weekly town hall meetings where employees can express concerns. There is also software out there (TINYpulse, for example) designed to elicit employee feedback and gauge workplace satisfaction. Amazon responded to bad press about its workplace by instituting a daily survey for employees to comment on work experiences and measure staff attitude. Results are culled into a report that is sent to top management personnel.

Encourage More Breaks

Research shows that only one in five employees take real lunch breaks; the other four prefer to eat in front of screens. But remaining at one’s desk all day stymies creative thinking—and can put a damper on morale, says management professor Kimberly Elsbach. One way to get employees away from their desks: Have managers go out for lunch, or even daily walks, since employees generally take the lead from their superiors. Another way to boost morale and foster team-building: company outings or activities. Outdoor Voices hosts regular yoga classes and recently went on a tree-planting expedition.

Make Time to Celebrate

Many employees appreciate when companies mark personal milestones like birthdays, weddings, or births. It can be as simple as cake or an after-hours gathering, but this often helps achieve positive workplace culture. Also remember work anniversaries: 82% of people feel good when theirs are noted, according to Globoforce. Likewise, rewarding team accomplishments adds to the all-important sense of shared purpose.

Refresh Your Space

Study after study shows that physical work environments greatly impact employee engagement. According to Harvard Business Review, the most important features are natural light and windows, without which employees report feeling disengaged. Also, a quick fix in any office space: bring the outdoors in—office plants reduce stress and sickness while improving employee wellbeing and creativity. Even nature-themed paintings can have similar effects.

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