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        6 min read

        Ten Ways to Boost Employee Morale At Your Company

        Photo of group of employees smiling together

        As companies try to win a war for talent and rethink their work models in an ever-evolving post-pandemic landscape, the one thing they can’t afford to ignore is employee morale. Sure, a company will naturally experience ups and downs, and changes in employee morale go with the territory. If left unchecked, though, negative morale can have lasting, detrimental effects on your company.

        The first step toward boosting employee morale is to find out where it stands. Maintaining a pulse on your employees’ morale on an ongoing basis is extremely important to ensure a strong company culture. We use tools like Lattice to continuously monitor our employee morale, find areas of improvement, and add hard data to our employee engagement strategy.

        Over the last eight years, we’ve used the following ten methods to increase employee satisfaction and boost workplace morale.

        Have a Great Mission Statement

        A global health crisis had forced many of us to reassess our priorities and yes, even our careers. Widespread job losses during the first few months of the pandemic gave way to tight labor markets, driven in part by what we now refer to as the Great Resignation. A new Pew Research Center survey found that low pay, lack of advancement opportunities, and feeling disrespected at work were the top reasons Americans left their jobs last year. Roughly half said child care issues also played a role. Today, as newly remote positions add opportunity and flexibility, how do you continue to stand out? A compelling mission is your best weapon.

        How to Keep Company Culture Strong With Remote Workers

        Gallup, a global research firm that’s studied how over 2.7 million workers, used 12 questions to measure employee engagement and predict business success. Among them: “the mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.” For millennials, the consultancy found, a strong mission was the strongest driver of employee retention. Candidates are looking for a mission statement that aligns with their values and promises work that matters. 

        Almost every company has a purpose other than just making money and giving people a paycheck. At HealthJoy, our mission is to simplify the healthcare experience. Our mission is prominently featured at the start of every company meeting as a reminder of what we’re all working toward together. Honing your mission statement and making it easy to find — for current and prospective employees — can make it a key feature in boosting morale.

        Give Praise and Show Gratitude

        The phrase “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” rings true here. It’s important to give your employees negative feedback when it’s warranted, but praise and gratitude are just as important. They may be “just doing their job,” but that doesn’t mean your employees don’t want to hear that you’re grateful.

        It’s even more important when they succeed. Showing gratitude is a boon to employee engagement levels. In one 2010 study, researchers found that a manager’s expression of gratitude increased the number of calls made by fundraisers. You might think that showing gratitude increases intrinsic motivation, but the researchers found that it actually motivates us to give to others. Gratitude increases “prosocial behavior,” or behaviors that help other people, by increasing our sense of social value.

        Have Fun Together

        It’s easy to get stuck in work mode when you have a ton to do, but having fun with coworkers is a great morale booster. It may not be a long-term fix for low morale, but after the past two years of living under heightened stress, it can be an important way to reset. It also allows you to see other team members in a different light. We’ve gone ax throwing, played WhirlyBall, gone on off-sites on the lake, and much more.

        During the pandemic, we organized virtual happy hours, planned distanced outdoor meetups, and empowered individual teams with a stipend to be used to connect. And when it was safe to meet indoors, we encouraged those who felt comfortable to connect over a meal. Regular happy hours have helped us reconnect after long months at home. As more employees return to the office or adopt a hybrid work model, it’s important to offer options for connections that they’re comfortable with.

        Step Up When Needed

        If you want to boost low employee morale, it may be time to stick up for your employees. If you have an angry client on the phone, take the call instead of leaving it to the entry-level employee. Have a client that everyone hates? Fire them! It might seem drastic, but putting your people first is the best step toward business success. Again, the Gallup Q12 hones in on the importance of managerial support with the question “My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.”

        Gallup explains that only four in 10 employees strongly agree that their supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about them as a person. Doubling that ratio could lead to an 8% improvement in customer engagement scores, 46% reduction in safety incidents, and 41% reduction in absenteeism, according to the consultancy.

        Let Them Vent

        Sometimes, an employee only wants to be heard. Ask for feedback, and do it often. Don’t just expect people to volunteer feedback; be proactive. Free tools like SurveyMonkey make it easy to create surveys and gauge employee feedback. We also use Lattice to get regular, structured feedback from employees, and we structure 1:1 meetings such that employees have enough open space to express what is or isn’t working. HealthJoy’s rapid expansion doesn’t allow us to leave feedback to chance, and nearly every corner of our organization has improved during this growth phase because we’ve taken time proactively seeking out employee feedback.

        Celebrate the Wins

        Want to achieve your lofty company goals? Celebrate the small victories. Realize that big goals aren’t going to happen overnight. If you fail to celebrate the more modest accomplishments, you’ll diminish the motivation you need to stay on the right path. Again, we rely on tools like Lattice and Slack to “Give Public Praise” to one another on a weekly basis. But we’ve also cultivated a company culture where leadership acknowledges, calls out, and celebrates wins throughout the organization on a weekly and monthly basis.

        Our CEO highlights these accomplishments in a weekly brief; individual organizations do so in monthly “release notes.” This creates connections between departments and helps employees stay focused on our larger mission.

        Allow People to Pursue Passion Projects

        At many companies, your yearly goals are your only goals. Any work that strays from that goal can be viewed in a negative light, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Side projects can be a useful outlet for creative energy and allow employees to explore new tools and ideas. They may be projects that are done outside of the office or could look like allowing employees to explore a concept during work time. At HealthJoy, our employees have amazing interests that we celebrate. During our time of fully remote work last year, we started a voluntary lunch and learn series that encouraged employees to share interests outside of work. In short, we love giving employees a way to share their interests with coworkers, and doing so increases engagement and morale.

        Volunteer

        Volunteering builds teams and increases collaboration. Your employees likely want to give back to their communities: One-quarter of Americans already give their time to charitable causes; those between 35 and 44 are most likely to volunteer. Volunteering may also help employees connect to a larger mission and build relationships, collaboration, and teamwork skills with coworkers. And, of course, they’ll do it all while improving their neighborhoods. In terms of employee morale boosters, we’ve found that volunteering truly takes the cake.

        Get Rid of a Jerk

        Achieving high morale is nearly impossible with a toxic team member in the workplace. They decrease the productivity of others, demotivate other employees, and may even put your business at risk. Sometimes helping the individual understand the issues and taking steps to remedy the situation can fix this behavior. 

        If the problems continue, sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and get rid of them. Employees know what they want, and if they’re tolerating less than optimal working conditions, they'll disengage, or worse, quit. It’s an overlooked aspect of helping your employees feel supported at work: getting rid of a bad apple will instantly improve team morale.

        Vacation Days

        After a year of extreme stress, fear, and anxiety, employees are facing burnout like never before. Employers are seeing this play out in low morale despite widespread re-openings around the U.S. — and many are responding by increasing vacation days, paid time off, and child or elder-care benefits.

        If you see a decrease in morale or engagement, it may be worth examining your employees’ use of paid time off (PTO) or your own policies. Studies have shown that taking a vacation reduces stress, increases immune function, and increases productivity. People are also more creative after a holiday. Adding a generous vacation policy and encouraging people to use them is a great way to boost employee morale. At HealthJoy, we offer unlimited PTO, but we’ve also encouraged employees to take mental health days, reworked our request policy to ensure we’re accurately tracking employee time off, and as always, kept an eye on how this impacts morale.

        Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

        If you’ve shifted to remote work, promoting a healthy lifestyle can seem difficult. While seeing positive effects from the addition of treadmill and bike desks to our Chicago office, those tools quickly became obsolete during the pandemic. So our human resources team pivoted and has since run two successful, fully remote wellness challenges for employees. In addition to rewarding employees who engage in healthy behaviors, we’ve hosted online yoga and meditation classes during the workday and offered every employee a wellness stipend they can use for any form of self-care.

        We found that this flexibility helped employees explore wellness in a way that best fits their lifestyle. Ultimately, it’s about providing options that help employees feel encouraged and supported.

        Track the Pulse of Employee Morale

        It takes constant work to maintain a dynamic company culture. Even small decisions can have unintended consequences for your employee morale. The only way to make sure you’re headed in the right direction is to track and continuously work on keeping positivity up. That’s more true now than ever!

        This post was originally published in 2017 and updated in 2022.

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