It's no secret that employee morale plays a key role in retention and overall productivity. A study by the Institute for Employment Studies found that "a happy and engaged workforce is more productive by up to 13%."
So, if you're looking to give your company an edge, boosting employee morale should be at the top of your list.
What is Employee Morale?
Employee morale can be defined as how an individual feels about their job, their co-workers, and their company. It's a combination of job satisfaction, engagement, and motivation.
When employees have high morale, they're more likely to be productive, engaged, and committed to their work. On the other hand, low morale can lead to absenteeism, low productivity, and high turnover.
There are a number of factors that contribute to employee morale, but as an employer, there are some things you can do to make a positive impact.
Here are 10 effective ways to boost employee morale:
1. Regular check-ins
Letting your employees know that you're interested in their well-being fosters a sense of belonging that is crucial for their morale.
According to a study done by EY, regular check-ins ranked first in respondents' answers about what gives them a sense of belonging at work.
35% of millennials, 40% of Generation X, and 45% of Baby Boomers who were surveyed say regular check-ins with colleagues make them feel most connected to the company.
Checking in regularly - whether it's through one-on-one meetings, group conversations, or even just a quick chat by the water cooler - shows that you care and that you're invested in their success.
In addition to making your employees feel valued, regular check-ins can also help identify any potential problems early on. By catching issues early, you can prevent them from snowballing into larger, more difficult-to-solve problems.
2. Showing appreciation
Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and when it comes to employees, a little recognition can go a long way. Whether publicly praising an employee for a job well done or simply sending a quick thank-you message, showing appreciation is a great way to boost morale.
When employees feel appreciated, they're more likely to be engaged and productive. In fact, a survey done by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 93% who reported feeling valued said that they are motivated to do their best at work and 88% reported feeling engaged.
Even though it seems like the most natural thing, to let your colleagues know you appreciate them, studies show that employees don't feel appreciated as often as they'd like. According to Gallup's analysis, fewer than one-third of U.S. workers strongly agreed that they received recognition or praise in the past seven days.
So don’t rely on your colleagues knowing you value their input, or your employees knowing how and where to show their appreciation for each other, but rather invest in a system that will help encourage and remind everyone to give and receive regular recognition.
3. Offer development opportunities
Career growth is important to most employees. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, "career advancement opportunities" is the second most important factor employees consider when deciding whether to stay with a company.
And it’s not just about retention rates. Employees who feel like they are stuck in a dead-end job are bound to be less innovative, invested, and engaged.
Offering development opportunities - whether it's through training, mentorship, or even just stretch assignments - shows that you're invested in your employees' growth - and when employees feel like they're growing and developing, they're more likely to be engaged and motivated.
4. Encourage work-life balance
Most employees want a healthy work-life balance, and when employees feel like they have a good balance, they're more likely to be productive and engaged.
Numerous studies have shown that work-life balance has a vital impact on the productivity and growth of both the organization and the employee, and it’s not hard to see why. Burnout is a real problem, and when employees are burned out, they're less productive, less engaged, and more likely to leave the company.
So if you want to keep your employees motivated and engaged, it's important to encourage a healthy work-life balance.
One way is to offer flexible work options, like the ability to work from home or have a more flexible schedule. Another way is to provide employees with amenities that make it easier to balance their work and personal lives, like on-site child care or dry cleaning services.
Whatever you do, make sure you're encouraging your employees to take the time they need to recharge and rejuvenate.
5. Encourage social interactions
Social interactions are important for employee morale, for a few reasons. First, they help employees build relationships and feel like part of a team. Second, they provide opportunities for employees to relax and have fun. And third, they can help reduce stress levels.
Research shows when relationships in the workplace are characterized by cooperation, trust, and fairness, the reward center of the brain is activated. That inspires them to repeat those interactions, encouraging employee trust, respect, and confidence.
As a result, employees are motivated to perform their best and believe in each other and the company.
With hybrid and remote work becoming more common, it's important to find ways to encourage social interactions outside of the office. Otherwise, employees may start to feel isolated and disengaged.
There are a number of ways you can encourage social interactions in your company. For example, you could host regular social events, create employee-led clubs or groups, or provide them with a platform where they will feel free to interact with each other - be it professionally or even casually.
6. Promote a healthy lifestyle
Employees are more likely to be productive and engaged when they are healthy, and when employees feel like their company is invested in their health, they're more likely to be loyal.
There are a number of ways you can promote a healthy lifestyle in your company. For example, you could offer on-site fitness classes, provide healthy food options, or offer discounts on gym memberships.
The key is to make it easy for employees to make healthy choices, without being too intrusive. After all, you want employees to feel like they have the autonomy to make their own choices, without being micromanaged.
7. Offer competitive compensation
It might be closer to the bottom of our list, but do not underestimate the importance of competitive compensation. In fact, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that "competitive pay" is the number one factor employees consider when deciding whether to stay with a company.
And it does not affect retention rates only, but also engagement and morale. Employees who feel that their engagement is valued and fairly compensated, are much more likely to invest more engagement in upcoming tasks and projects.
So be sure to keep an eye on the industry standards and make sure your employees feel like they are being paid fairly - and don’t forget additional perks and benefits. Not only will it improve employee morale, but it will also help you attract and retain top talent.
8. Provide a positive work environment
The work environment has a big impact on employee morale. Numerous studies have shown that more positive work climates were linked to higher job morale.
In order to create a positive work environment, you'll need to focus on a few key areas. For example, you'll need to ensure that your employees have the resources they need to do their jobs well.
You'll also need to create an open and inclusive culture where employees feel like they can be themselves, and where they feel like their voices are heard.
Finally, you'll need to make sure that your workplace is physically comfortable and conducive to productivity. This means things like ensuring that the temperature is comfortable, providing ergonomic furniture, and having plenty of natural light.
9. Give employees autonomy
Most employees want to feel like they're in control of their work. When employees feel like they have autonomy, they're more likely to be invested in their work and therefore more productive.
There are a number of ways you can give employees autonomy in their work. For example, you could give them the freedom to work on projects they're passionate about or let them choose their own methods for completing tasks.
The one thing you need to avoid, however, is micromanaging them. The negative impacts are so intense that it is labeled among the top three reasons employees resign.
Instead, give employees the freedom to experiment and make their own decisions. Employees who are allowed to be self-directed will be motivated to be more productive, and also less likely to leave the company.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you should be completely hands-off. You should still provide guidance and support when needed. But ultimately, you should trust your employees to do their jobs well.
Employee morale is important for a number of reasons, but one of the most important is that it can impact employee retention. When employees are happy and engaged, they're less likely to leave your company.
There are a number of things you can do to improve employee morale, but some of the most effective are listed above. If you want to keep your employees happy and engaged, start by implementing some of these morale-boosting strategies.