In difficult and tough economic times we still need to engage with our employees. While the big budgets may not be available any more there are lots of things that we can do which are effective.
The strategy for boosting employee morale – fast, is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of five basic human needs.
Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
- Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
- Esteem needs – self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.
- Belongingness and Love needs – work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.
- Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.
- Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
Below are ten ideas to start your thinking. Many of these are obvious, but they are good to have in your employee engagement and morale-building tool-kit:
- Praise people – look to “Catch People Doing it Right”, rather than trying to catch people out
- Welcome Ideas – employee morale improves when people feel they are valued. Share and implement their innovations and ideas
- Say thank-you. Even when there’s no money that changes hands, it can be extremely rewarding for an employee to know that his/her boss appreciate the work he/she is doing. Use the SMART approach – be specific about what you are thanking people for
- Write a letter or email of appreciation. This doesn’t have to be expensive or even on a greeting card that is bought from a shop
- Award a certificate of appreciation. The real value to the employee is in the realization that their contribution is recognized and appreciated
- Take the employee to lunch or out for a cup of coffee. Simply spending time together with the opportunity to say thanks and to exchange ideas is valuable
- Buy a scratch-card or a lottery ticket (assuming doing so is compatible with everyone’s values) and give it along with a short note or card. Lottery tickets are fairly inexpensive, but can be fun and (in some instances) financially rewarding
- Bring in donuts (or a selection of fruit if you’re health-conscious) for your people
- Have a pot-luck breakfast or lunch. This is something that everyone can participate in and enjoy. The cost is manageable and it provides an opportunity for some enjoyable interaction
- Hold a silly contest. In an office context, for example, you could award a prize for the most cheerful office or around holiday time in December for the most brightly decorated office or office-space
- Give a new, interesting assignment. The key here is to make sure it’s something interesting to the employee. Sometimes all that’s needed to boost morale is a little bit of variety and a change of pace
- Do a short employee survey to find out what employees like and don’t like about their jobs – and take action (where possible and sensible) to minimize the dislikes
- Ensure that all senior managers spend a day on the ’shop-floor’ or customer-facing once a month
- Have senior managers have lunch/ breaks with staff on a regular basis
- On hot days arrange for ice-creams or iced drinks to be provided
- Have senior people say ’sorry’ publicly when something has gone wrong (I am sorry – not we are sorry – needs to be personal)
- Make time for fun. Incorporating some fun into your workday is a terrific morale booster
- Encourage peer recognition. “People like to be recognized personally by their peers”
- Encourage people to ‘decorate’ or personalize their working space – people perform better in comfortable surroundings
- If deadlines or targets have been met then let people go home early on a Friday (not every week – it’s supposed to be a reward not an expectation)
- Offer stress relief activities. Hire a local massage school to offer free 10-minute chair massages
- Help people feel valuable. Talk with employees about the types of projects, training, or experiences they would like to have. Times may be difficult and tough for people to get jobs, but your best people are also the most marketable
- Celebrate people’s birthdays. Empower managers to ‘do something different’ for each person, help them feel special
- Measure It, keeping a watch on the levels of morale in your business/ organization/ firm by regularly measuring employee satisfaction
- Fire Staff. Sometimes the root cause of low employee morale can be an employee whose negativity brings down the team. Even a top performer can bring down staff behind your back (didn’t see this one coming… or did you?)
Remember these are meant to be boosters – so the effects they will have are short term individually – but a culture of going the extra mile and doing the ‘little things’ builds engagement. These techniques work best when they are not done to a formula – this feels impersonal and will defeat the objective.
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