WE ALL HAVE THOSE DAYS WHERE WE DREAD GOING INTO WORK IN THE MORNING.
Perhaps you’re working on a tough project that’s becoming a nightmare to get completed, or maybe you’ve been asked to attend yet another meeting over your normal lunch hour (don’t, just don’t…); whatever the reason, there are some days when the thought of going to work is enough to drive you to despair.
Ok, maybe ‘despair’ is a bit of a strong word, but it’s not uncommon to feel uninspired or unmotivated when it comes to going to work every morning.
When low workplace morale becomes the norm rather than the exception, it can ultimately affect the confidence and happiness of an entire workforce.
When morale is low, employees will really dread showing up to work every day. Low employee morale breeds negativity, and once negativity starts infecting your workforce, you’ll not only find it can harm a good working environment, it can also have more serious effects on productivity, output and your employee’s own job satisfaction.
WORKPLACE NEGATIVITY IS CONTAGIOUS
"Who wants to work for a business with a negative reputation with discontented employees?"
What can start as just a rough week, or a compartmentalised issue can quickly spiral out of control if left unchecked – especially in bigger businesses with large workforces.
Think of low workplace morale and negativity like a cold virus: it can start with just a few employees in your organisation but can go on to infect an entire workplace. As it spreads, the more damage it can cause.
Employees with morale at rock bottom or who have become disengaged with their employer will often barely break a sweat to carry out their day-to-day duties, let alone go the extra mile. In fact, they’ll be more likely to coast along doing the bare minimum because… well, why bother doing more if they don’t want to be there?
The longer it goes on, the harder it becomes to cure and, at worst, it can cause your best employees to leave and damage your business irreparably.
It can even begin to prevent you from attracting talented workers by damaging your reputation. After all, who wants to work for a business with a negative reputation with discontented employees?
It’s a vicious cycle, and one that needs to be taken seriously if the overall health and future of your company is a concern. But before we get to deep into the negativity here, fear not; all is not lost.
TURNING THOSE FROWNS UPSIDE DOWN
The good news is that staff morale rarely remains static and can be quite easily improved if businesses are proactive with their staff engagement strategies.
If budgets are plentiful and you’ve got both money and resources to spare, you might think of trying some obvious actions; such as giving people pay rises, fancy company events or buying employees a flavour-of-the-month gadget (e.g., an iPad, although of course, there are a multitude of awesome and reasonably-priced tablets on the market to choose from).
But before you start thinking ‘hold up, we’re not all made of money here’, you’re absolutely right: it isn’t financially viable to just start throwing money at the situation in the hope your workforce will be happier.
Money isn’t always the best incentive or motivator, and it’s certainly not even guaranteed to solve any underlying problems you may have with your company’s culture!
It’s also important to note that not every business will have the resources of multi-national conglomerates.
For the start-ups, independents and SMEs of this world, having a staff engagement budget or cash to spend on staff incentives, motivation and recognition may be absolutely minimal – if not non-existent!
Luckily, boosting your workplace morale doesn’t mean breaking the bank. Here’s some awesome tips for boosting both your staff’s engagement and morale on a tight or non-existent budget:
ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY OR LENGTHY MEETINGS
We’ve all been there. Sat bored in a meeting thinking ‘this really could have been sorted over an email’. And it’s a common feeling amongst the workforce!
Research by meeting technology firm eShare indicates that every week, the average office worker in the UK spends an eye-watering 10 hours 42 minutes preparing for and attending 4.4 meetings - 2.6 of those deemed unnecessary.
The research also concluded that taking into account the lost productivity and average staff wages across all of the UK’s estimated 5.4 million businesses, unnecessary meetings are costing UK businesses a staggering £191 BILLION in lost productivity!
Now, whilst those figures are of course estimated, it is true that unnecessary meetings can have a damaging effect on both productivity and morale. In fact, founder of PayPal, co-founder of Tesla, Space X and Twitter legend Elon Musk really hates them – and he knows a thing or two about running a successful business or two. He’s quoted as saying:
“Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time. Please get [out] of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.”
“Also get rid of frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter. Meeting frequency should drop rapidly once the urgent matter is resolved.”
Whilst Elon’s approach of just walking out of conferences might be a little extreme for many, it is the case that employee morale can be damaged if they’re constantly having to attend long, drawn-out meetings.
Firstly, they may think they’re a complete waste of time – especially if they’re not sure why they’re needed there in the first place and are invited along as part of a wider team.
Secondly, they may also be getting frustrated at the fact that meetings are taking their time away from actually doing the work required. And finally, if an employee is constantly having to have meetings to update on a task, project or their role in general, they may feel like there’s no trust in their abilities or feel they’re being micromanaged.
So, before you start pencilling in your next office meeting, ask yourself: is this really necessary, or is there a better way to do this?
ENCOURAGE INTER-DEPARTMENTAL WORKING, TRAINING AND COLLABORATION
Have you ever had days where you felt you’ve been living life on repeat? If you’ve ever experienced carrying out the same duties or same projects day after day, you’ll know that boredom and low morale can quickly follow.
Instead of having employees sticking to their normal job descriptions, encourage them to collaborate with colleagues and peers in different departments. They’ll not only benefit from getting to know new people and experience new challenges, they’ll also get the chance to develop new skills which could help their own career development.
A strong learning culture is vital for building staff engagement; plus, encouraging this kind of collaboration can result in new ideas, new ways of working and an enhancement of company culture that may otherwise might never have happened.
But, if you’re an SME or start-up business, spreading your wings in different departments may simply not be possible – so then what?
If you’re an SME or a business with only a small workforce, consider giving employees the opportunities to visit industry events or seminars. They’re generally free – or very low cost – and will allow them to keep up with industry-specific trends or insights.
Supporting career development in this way is a really effective way to build engagement with employees.
You’re demonstrating that you’re willing to help them advance their career, carry out their regular duties more effectively but also prepare for their next steps up the career ladder. Which leads nicely onto…
PROMOTE FROM WITHIN
"If you have employee’s who have actively shown to be keen on developing their career further or making an effort with additional training or experiences, they may just be ready for that next big step."
Let’s be honest: being stuck in a job that has become unrewarding or unchallenging can be a morale-sapping experience. But this feeling can be exasperated if you can’t see your career progressing with your current employer or, even worse, consistently lose out on positions to external applicants.
When it comes to more senior roles in your organisation, the importance of promoting from within cannot be underestimated.
By choosing to promote staff from within your organisation, morale can improved because employees will see that their employees is keen to not only retain talented staff, but help them climb the career ladder at the same time – it’s really a win-win for everyone!
If you have employee’s who have actively shown to be keen on developing their career further or making an effort with additional training or experiences, they may just be ready for that next big step.
DON’T FORGET THE IMPORTANCE OF SAYING ‘THANKS’
A happy and positive work environment thrives on an organisation bringing out the best behaviours from their staff; and one of the most deceptively easy (and effective!) behaviours you should actively be encouraging is simply saying ‘thank you’.
Now, you might be sitting there reading this and thinking ‘is that it?’ and yup, it really is! It’s that simple - but dismiss it at your peril!
Whilst we’re all brought up as kids being taught the importance of saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, by the time we’re all seasoned workplace veterans, the art of saying thanks can be easily overlooked in the workplace – and this does have a huge impact on both morale and company productivity.
Studies by the Harvard Business School found that once employees in a business began making a consigned effort to say ‘thank you’ to their colleagues, people became more willing to help others. In fact, their findings showed a 50% increase in the amount of additional help being offered as a result of the appreciation.
This is of course great for workplace morale as our employees will feel their contributions are not going unnoticed. If employees are consistently going above the call of duty, perhaps offer a more formal offer of recognition; a half day on a Friday, a couple of film tickets or even a voucher for one of their favourite retailers.
These are all brilliantly simple and budget-friendly ways to keep company morale in check and keep your staff happy and motivated.
ASK YOUR STAFF!
It’s all well and good us suggesting ideas on how you can improve the morale in your workplace; but whilst we’ve got over 50 years’ experience in employee motivation and engagement, you’ll be best placed to discover the best ways to improve your workforce’s morale – and simply asking them can open a whole world of possibilities!
Try using a pulse survey that enables your staff to respond to your questions anonymously and honestly.
Taking this approach can also help your employees have a sense of ownership of how your organisation engages with its’ staff; plus, you’ll be getting answers that are directly relevant and appropriate to your workforce!
Maybe they’d prefer the occasional team building day out, or perhaps they’d love to bring their pets into work every so often? All your employees are different and will be motivated and encouraged by many different things.
Asking them the question as to what best motivates them and would help them feel happier at work doesn’t cost a thing – it’s what you do next that counts.
TAKE THE NEXT STEP TODAY!
When an employee goes above and beyond their call of duty, it's important to recognise and reward their efforts to encourage your employees, retain important members of staff and boost morale. So, what should you be recognising your team for? Download our free Employee Recognition Check List via the link below to find out!