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5 steps to boosting employee morale in the workplace

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

“Winning is important to me, but what brings me real joy is the experience of being fully engaged in whatever I’m doing.” 

Phil Jackson, a former American coach and executive on the National Basketball Association (NBA), stated this in his early years as a former professional basketball player. 

It’s a line that resonates among athletes, but the same principle stands for work in any other field or industry. A business can’t rely on efficiency alone; without engaged or driven staff, its operations will surely suffer.

This is known as employee morale, and the better it is in the workplace – the greater your business results. In fact, Gallup statistics show that good morale can lead to improved customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, less accidents, and 21% higher profitability. This, in turn, paints a better brand image for your company, improving your reputation in the “candidate marketplace.” 

So, how does one boost employee morale in the workplace?

  1. Help them believe in your vision.
  2. Know how your workers perform best.
  3. Offer career progression opportunities.
  4. Offer valuable feedback, and be open to it in return.
  5. Make time for fun.

1. Help them believe in your vision. 

Dedication is hard to form without a strong sense of purpose. To spur drive among your staff, it’s important to have them onboard your mission; to help them see the key role they play in the “bigger picture” you’ve envisioned for your company.

A Censuswide survey found that 67% of Australian workers were unlikely to stick with a business whose values and goals didn’t align with their own. For companies who did share the same ambitions, 70% stated that they were willing to work for less pay.
A top Australian employer, KMPG, took a literal approach in achieving this with a campaign they launched in late 2014. The goal was to have employees connect their work to a higher purpose – whether it was support for those in need or driving economic development in specific states

A team who shares in your passion can radiate the same enthusiasm towards clients and customers; so not only do your internal operations benefit, but so does your service. Workers who believe in your company and what they do will likely be dedicated to sharing that same purpose with others.

2. Know how your workers perform best.

encouraging boss

As a manager, it’s important to understand the varied working styles among your team, and encourage members to play to their strengths. Be flexible and adaptive in your management style. As explained by Business Insider Australia, forcing workers to change their methods to fit yours will likely backfire and decrease morale. 

Of course, it’s also crucial to match tasks with unique skillsets – such as delegating presentation work among your best speakers, and reserving research for the more analytical workers. 

Though being the “big boss” often entails a firm, assertive demeanour, don’t forget to show you care. Investing in your workers’ wellbeing will make them feel valued, further earning their devotion to your cause.  

This can be done in a myriad of ways; including implementing wellness programs and offering workplace counselling to improve mental health (such as Workplace Counselling Employee Assistance Programmes).

Australian companies have also taken strides to implement remote working policies. Indeed research has shown that this successfully results in higher workplace morale while decreasing employee sick days.

3. Offer career progression opportunities.

Stagnation is a common cause of losing quality talent. Once employees feel like they’ve hit that “glass ceiling” – they’ll likely move on to other opportunities where their skills can grow and thrive.

Have employees understand their chances of career advancement, as this helps motivate them to perform their best work. Such progression needn’t be a senior title or higher pay; this can be as simple as offering more leadership responsibilities or access to new industry resources

These opportunities prevent worker boredom (and thus, disengagement) by offering the prospect of new challenges. It also allows you to take advantage of your workers’ skills, developing them for the betterment of your business. 

In fact, taking an active approach in their skills development is often favoured among Australian employees. Be sure to promote upskilling opportunities among your team with courses or workshops in their line of work. A 2018 Randstad survey revealed that “good training” ranked among the top five perks for Australian workers, with upskilling considered a major priority among millennial workers in a recent study by SEEK

Additionally, with education providers like Upskilled providing the option to train online, employees now have the flexibility of studying around their work commitments

4. Offer valuable feedback, and be open to it in return.

boss providing feedback to team

Constructive criticism is a vital workplace practice (especially among managers), as they help employees identify their areas for improvement. Developing in their roles not only results in a more efficient team, but one with more confident, satisfied workers.

Of course, it’s important to give recognition where it’s due. According to a survey by Glassdoor, 53% of employees will choose to stay longer in a role where they receive appreciation from their boss. On top of this, public recognition has far greater impact than private praise, as it lets their co-workers know of their quality performance and creates “positive peer pressure” for them to do the same. 

However, good managers embrace valuable criticism themselves. This is especially helpful when diagnosing causes of low workplace morale, as it creates an open floor for workers to share their concerns and corresponding suggestions for improvement.  

Encouraging this open communication helps your staff feel heard, and therefore, valued – creating a closer, trusting, and overall more positive relationship between you and your team.

5. Make time for fun.

Finally, never underestimate the importance of having fun. 

As stated by Amelia Wilcox (founder of the US business Incorporate Massage) in her interview with Forbes, “An organisation that plays together, stays together.” Fun tasks, events, and out-of-office get-togethers make for an overall happier team, resulting in more engaged, motivated, and thus – productive workers. 

A study by Bright HR even finds that employees who have more fun are less likely to take a sick day. According to their survey, 58% of respondents who hadn’t experienced fun at work had taken 11 more sick days in the past year

Achieving a more fun and engaging workplace can be done in several creative ways; such as organising work lunches or team outings, setting up a games or leisure area, keeping the kitchen stocked with snacks, or having a collaborative work playlist to listen to on slow mornings. 

Successful management doesn’t end with hiring, training, and delegating to the right people. Ensuring happy, driven employees produces greater profits and higher retention rates in the long term than a disengaged, directionless team. When your staff are at their best (mentally, physically, and performance-wise), your business will be, too. 

Looking to improve your skills as a manager?

If you’re looking to upgrade your business and management skills, Upskilled offers nationally recognised training through a wide range of courses in the field – from short courses to graduate diplomas. As mentioned, upskilling is also effective in boosting employee morale. From information technology to community services, your workers are sure to find courses to help advance them in their role. 

Best of all, training is delivered 100% online, helping you and your employees study while tending to work commitments.

Enquire today to discover the ideal course for you. 

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