You don’t have to be a psychologist to notice when your staff’s morale has hit the floor.
Tasks take longer than usual to complete, challenges are met with sighs or eye rolls, and it seems that every piece of work is just lacking that little bit of quality you’d normally expect.
Also, the thing with morale is once it’s reached rock bottom, it can be very difficult to lift it back up again – especially if business is tough or your organisation is going through a ‘transitional’ period. Employees may not see the value in going the extra mile if they feel their efforts are not going to be acknowledged or that their hard work is in vein. Falling into this cycle can be all-to-easy, and can cause quite catastrophic damage if left to fester.
Tough trading times for your business are not the only causes of low employee morale, though. It can be caused by any number of basic workplace factors; be it your managers’ style of leadership, your workplace environment or even just a lack of acknowledgement for the little everyday positives. Times may be rough, deadlines may be looming, but the power of a thank you can go a long, long way.
So, if you’re starting to notice that your employees’ morale might be on the slide, don’t sit back and think that it will just ‘blow over’ or sort itself out; there are some simple, proactive measures you can take to reduce the impact of low morale and help maintain a happy, positive working environment every single day.
1. ASK YOURSELF: ARE YOUR COMPANY VALUES UP TO SCRATCH?
If you’re noticing that company morale always seems to be at a low ebb, there may be more to it than just the odd bad day…
The culture and working environment of your organisation are often dictated by the values of vision of your business. In fact, you could argue that your company’s values are the heart and soul of the business – guiding your organisation’s principles and the behaviour of your workforce in order to reach a common goal.
The problem is though, is that whilst it’s definitely a good thing to have a set of defined, concise company values, it may be the case they’re simply not compatible with your workforce or current objectives. This incompatibility is often a ‘hidden in plain sight’ issue which can go unnoticed for a long, long time; stunting progress, productivity and leading to a disengaged or disinterested workforce with ever-decreasing morale.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to ensure your company values are engaging your employees in the right way:
- Conduct a pulse survey - Simply asking the question to your employees as to whether they engage or even know what your company values are is the easiest and most effective way of checking their effectiveness. This can be done in the form on an online anonymous survey, in a more formal group workshop, or perhaps during catchups or annual reviews.
- Make them visible – And by this, don’t just have them buried on an ‘about us’ page on your website or stencilled on your office wall. Tie them into your employee’s own objectives and performance targets, and ensure your desired behaviours are demonstrated from your senior leaders, managers and team leaders.
- Review Your Hiring and Firing Process – Yup, you may think you have the most qualified or talented people for the job, but if they don’t share your company’s vision, values and mission, then they ultimately could be holding you back. Don’t be afraid to move on the people who simply don’t reflect the values of your business, and always give careful consideration as to whether the people you interview for jobs are right for the business – not just right for the job.
2. RE-EVALUATE YOUR WORKING ENVIRONMENT
The environment in which you work can play a huge part in the wellbeing of a workforce. And it make sense, really; especially given the fact that the average UK employee spends over 84,000 hours of their life working…
The fact we’re all working for much longer these days also highlights the need to pay careful attention to the environment we all work in. Think about it: Do you think a dark, dated or uncomfortable workspace is conducive to productivity and high employee morale? No, we don’t think so, either…
If your staff have been at a low ebb for an extended period of time, making just some small changes can help lift morale and support a great working environment; these include:
- Let the light in – Natural light has shown to be a fantastic mood elevator and also supports healthy sleep patterns. Flooding your workspace with as much natural light as possible is a beautifully simple way to help support healthy moods and fight fatigue. If this isn’t possible, using blue-enriched light bulbs can be an effective alternative along with warm pastel colour schemes.
- Are you sitting comfortably? – Having a comfortable and ergonomic workspace is brilliant for both positive wellbeing and productivity – and can even help reduce more serious physical problems such as musculoskeletal disorders or repetitive strain injuries. Ensuring you conduct regular health and safety assessments (especially when it comes to display screen equipment) is something you shouldn’t put off – especially when it comes to new starters!
- Make space to break out – Whilst sitting at your desk working all day may seem like you’re working hard, in actual fact, it’s more likely contributing to your eventual, early demise. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way! Encouraging regular breaks to stretch limbs and clear heads is a no brainer. Going further, creating shared breakout areas – either inside or outdoors - where groups can collaborate, take a 10-minute break or simply let off some steam is one way to stimulate both the mind and body.
- Stay hydrated – Over a third of us Brits admit we don’t drink enough water on a daily basis – and no, cups of tea, coffee or fizzy drinks don’t count! Our lack of keeping regularly hydrated can lead to all sorts of minor problems; including headaches, lack of focus and fatigue. Longer term, it can lead to reduced kidney function, constipation and even kidney stones – so, help your staff stay hydrated and make sure they have easy access to as much clean and cool drinking water as possible.
3. REMEMBER: IT’S GOOD TO TALK!
Having regular and open communications with your employees is one way to support both healthy workplace engagement and morale. Plus, it’s a great way to share all the good things that your people do – reinforcing those all-important values and creating an atmosphere of positivity, too.
No one likes being left in the dark when it comes to the state of a business or what their employer is up to; so, sharing regular information (within reason, of course) with employees ensures that everyone in your business is on the same page and are all pulling in the same direction. Your communications can include:
- ‘Town Hall’ meetings – These can be informal gatherings with all your employees to discuss and present your objectives, progress, challenges, aims, concerns… Well, anything really. See this as an opportunity for your more senior leaders to engage openly with the rest of the business and get a real ‘finger on the pulse’ of the business from the people in the engine room.
- Collaborative tools – Having a collaborative workforce that helps one another is a great way to both manage workloads, share ideas and encourage creativity. Utilising an internal social media platform that can help people connect one another is a great way to encourage this type of collaboration – failing that, even just simple shared documents can save time and effort.
- Regular Emails – Email updates are an easy and informal method of keeping everyone in the loop as to the goings on in the business. They’re also the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on all the good work your employees do or any of their achievements – either professionally or personally.
4. RECOGNISE AND REWARD THE ONES WHO GO ABOVE AND BEYOND
One of the biggest morale killers in the workplace can be when hard work consistently goes unnoticed. It goes back to that lack of acknowledgement we mentioned earlier; appreciation is a fundamental human need, so being stuck in an environment where going above and beyond the call of duty is routine but never acknowledged, can destroy a team’s motivation and kill morale stone dead!
But, before you start thinking that money is answer, it isn’t necessarily the case. Money – in the form of an annual bonus or pay rise – may give morale a much-needed boost (after all, who doesn’t want more money?!), but longer term, it doesn’t really solve the problem of a disengaged, under-appreciated workforce.
Showing small gestures of appreciation and recognising the people in your business who deserve rewarding gives a reason for your people to consistently strive to go above and beyond – these can include:
- Recognising the real team players – The people who are always willing to pitch in at the last minute, give up their own time to help or simply make the workplace a happier place to be! The real team players can be worth their weight in gold when times are tough; so, recognising and acknowledging the positive behaviours they bring can pay long term dividends.
- Living and breathing your company values – Yup, if you have employees who really do live your values every day, then it’s only right that they’re recognised for their efforts! This is not only great for the recipient of your reward, but it also highlights to the rest of your workforce what is expected of them and if they follow the same example, they can also be recognised, too.
5. IT SHOULDN’T ALL BE ABOUT WORK, WORK, WORK…
Finally, don’t forget that whilst there will always be jobs to do and deadlines to meet, workloads, processes and formality should never be the sole focus of your time in work.
Having a fun and enjoyable work environment is just as important as the work itself. Having fun helps decrease stress, build positive relationships and make every day, well, more enjoyable!
Now, we’re not going to ream off lists of fun things you can do (although if you really need some suggestions, you could click on this link); but what we will say is that a sense of fun and enjoyment can be one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective ways to boost morale – so loosen your tie, enjoy some banter with your colleagues and start putting a smile on each other’s faces!