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11 Affordable Employee-Morale Boosters

Your staff will appreciate these gestures, and they won’t break your bank.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You can’t manufacture an employee’s positive morale. What you can do is influence components of their daily work environment. Leaders hold the cards to creating a culture in which every individual’s positive contributions are recognized and rewarded. 

Gallup has consistently reported that engaged and motivated employees are committed, love their roles and care about what happens to the company they work for. When people feel valued, trust is fostered. When companies create flexible work environments, people feel empowered to lead their own lives and careers. When people are given options, the message they receive is that they are valued. Here are 11 ways you can relay that message without breaking your company’s budget.

1. Lead with vision.

When leaders tap into the human desire to connect to individual and collective greatness, they articulate their business’s destination, and when employees can connect to the future of the company, it creates a sense of ownership.

2. Express appreciation.

A personal acknowledgment of a job well done can go a long way in building trust between employees and management. Glassdoor conducted an appreciation survey reporting that 53 percent of employees stay at their jobs longer if they sense a a level of appreciation from their boss. In a Psychology Today study, 76 percent of employees identified peer praise as a motivating factor. Public recognition is one of the most significant ways to inspire people and encourage others to build a culture of safety and belonging. 

Related: 6 Entrepreneurs Share Secrets for Boosting Office Morale

3. Learn and grow.

When companies don’t offer learning and growth opportunities, workers will take professional development into their own hands by seeking other companies that do. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report discovered that 94 percent of employees would stay with a company longer if it invested in their career. 

Whether education comes in the form of a conference, learning summit or online course, investing in the development of a leadership program provides an opportunity for younger talent to hone their management skills before they step up to a weightier title. 

4. Lead conversations.

One way of being proactive about growth and development is to create a space in which senior leaders can facilitate group professional-development sessions. Bringing staff members together to discuss personal-development topics devliers the message that you care.

5. Build teams.

Team building takes many forms, be it a full day out of the office, monthly hour-long lunch-and-learn or integrating gamification into everyday workplaces. Any of these scenarios opens channels of communication for when everyone returns to the office, breaking down barriers between departments and instilling confidence in your team that everyone matters.

6. Capitalize on key dates.

Throughout the year, several holidays can be used as a basis to celebrate with your team. Halloween, Christmas and even the Oscars are occasions when the office can identify a theme day and get into the spirit of the event. Sometimes it can be as simple as capitalizing on a TGI Friday by allowing your team leave early. Another option is to promote smaller and less official holidays, like Bring Your Dog To Work Day, to liven up your workplace. 

7. Bring employees together with food.

Food trucks can be a tremendous cost-free solution, as they provide access to new lunch options without having to build a kitchen or hire a chef. Companies can partner with neighboring businesses to identify local food trucks in the area and let them know that you can supply them with hungry customers. Airbnb, Eventbrite and LinkedIn subscribe to cooperating with food trucks to foster a shared lunch delivery of choice. 

8. Promote work-life harmony.

PricewaterhouseCoopers created a “Be well, work well” Habit Bank initiative to improve the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the workforce by focusing on fueling employees’s four dimensions of energy to become their best selves. For instance, when it came to improving mental health, some of the suggestions involved setting a time limit for every task, considering electronic-device bans during meetings and tackling the day’s most important task first without interruption for 60 minutes. 

Related: Ignoring Employee Morale Will Cost You

9. Build inclusive environments. 

Companies often invest time and energy into exit interviews, yet rarely conduct a “stay” interview. Asking people, “What keeps you here?” “What are the company’s top three strengths and areas for development?” and, “If you had a magic wand, what would you change?” provides great insight into what people crave. By gathering pertinent information, a company can create a committee to establish fun activities, brainstorm companywide initiatives and identify coaching opportunities that contribute to sustaining employee morale.

10. Take the time to ask.

Employees have different backgrounds, are at different stages in their lives and are driven by different things. Companies make mistakes when they try to adopt a one-size approach to a diverse workforce. Surveys are a great way to obtain feedback and capture valuable insights. Include specific questions and prompts such as:

  • Share a story about someone who did something amazing that made your day.
  • What inspires you to succeed every day?
  • If you were given a chance, would you reapply to your current role?

Salesforce reported that when employees feel that their voice has been heard at work, they are 4.6 times more likely to deliver their best work. When your workforce feels listened to and valued, it sends the message that they’re more than just a number or revenue value. 

11. Craft individual development plans.

When leaders invest in identifying personal and professional goals and consistently discuss progress as part of the everyday conversation, people feel valued. By investing 30 minutes, you can get to know your employees on a personal level. Ask curious questions like, “What motivates you outside of work?” “Who was your childhood hero?” and, “What gets you out of bed in the morning?” Taking time to listen to your staff ncreases trust, improves employee morale and provides insight for leading a better company.