A business can’t succeed without its employees, and to produce exceptional results and deliver incredible work, your staff need to feel satisfied and happy. Many CEOs are reluctant to address morale if it comes at a cost, but we’re here to tell you that investing in morale can bring dividends in the future. See for yourself:
- Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability
- Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work
Morale isn’t just about ensuring that your staff are happy, it’s about lowering turnover rate. Every good business person should aim to reduce their staff turnover rate, as it costs businesses more to train new staff than it does to retain loyal employees. And without morale, trust, openness and security, high turnover is an inevitability. As well as increasing staff loyalty, improving staff morale can also better creativity and boost profitability.
Through our cumulative years in creative businesses, we’ve grown to believe that morale is essential in the smooth running of any place of work, that’s why we’ve created a list of 33 ways to improve staff morale. So if you’re wondering how to improve motivation in the workplace or how to improve work efficiency in the office, keep on reading as we break it down into six important categories:
- Efficiency and productivity
- Motivation and morale
- Staff rewards and recognition
- Work culture
- Team building
You don’t have to implement everything on our list to improve office morale. You might already be doing most of the things on here. Many of our suggestions are subtle behaviours and small actions that your employees might take for granted, but have a huge impact on the atmosphere and attitude in your office. Taking them for granted may seem like a negative, but in fact it’s quite the opposite. A good workplace will be one where you don’t even notice many of the things that make it work seamlessly, but a bad one is a house of cards waiting to fall. Morale should be a given, alongside health and safety and productivity.
Efficiency and productivity
When your employees spend all of their time behind screens, it can be easy to fall into the routine of only communicating via email in overly formal and factual conversation. This is the easiest way to drive staff morale into the ground.
Employees are people first and foremost, and they should be treated like you would treat anybody else. Check in with them regularly, in person, and keep them updated on the latest news, work-related or else. Let them know that they can come and speak to you when they need to, and make sure that they trust you to do the same.
Communication between your employees should also be encouraged. A team that can collaborate and work together is a team that’s happier and more successful.
2. Be transparent
One thing all managers quickly learn is that there’s not much employees appreciate more than being kept in the loop. Whether the coffee machine has broken, a member of your team is stuck in traffic or a deadline has been brought forward, letting your colleagues know up front is key to building strong working relationships and creating a sense of collective.
Being transparent with your team can help your company as a whole to tackle challenges and overcome adversity. Keeping your staff in the dark can hinder efficiency and productivity as they’ll be working on a different wavelength to you, which might be counterproductive to your overall goals. Honesty is always the best policy.
3. Gather feedback for your team
Asking for constructive criticism is one of the best ways to improve productivity and gather insights into how your team is feeling. You’ll never know until you ask after all.
Your colleagues are the ones doing the groundwork and generating results, so speaking to them directly for feedback is the best way to get to the root of an issue or find ways to improve.
And feedback doesn’t just benefit you. Letting your team know that their feedback is valued is a simple and easy way to show them that they’re an important part of your organisation and that they do matter.
Don’t forget that feedback shouldn’t just be factored in when things need to be improved. Got praise to pass on? Share it just as often as the constructive criticism.
4. Allow for work breaks
Sitting at a desk all day might not seem very physically taxing, but it can take a lot out of you mentally. That’s why it’s really important to allow for breaks in the working day. Stepping away from your screens and giving your eyes a break not only helps you maintain concentration, but it gives the mind a much needed chance to rest.
A mental refresh can make you more focused and efficient, and above all else, it’s proven to be important for your health – mental and physical. So whether you go for a walk or stand up and stretch your legs, remember that taking regular breaks can actually help your whole team to be more productive. Lead by example and make it part of the culture to require breaks.
5. Have a well-stocked office
It doesn’t matter if it’s printer ink or coffee cups, if it runs out, there’s sure to be pandemonium. That’s why keeping a well-stocked office can drastically improve the mood of your team.
Ensure you have all of the office equipment you need as it will make your business run smoothly and more efficiently. Invest in refreshments for your colleagues so that they have a well curated working environment. It’ll boost employee satisfaction and keep everyone happy. And don’t just buy supplies for the sake of it. Make sure you keep track of what you already have so you can focus on prioritising things that are of a greater need.
Sure, ordering more supplies is good for productivity, but you know what’s even better? Equipment that just works. If things break, get them fixed. These things happen, but you can do your part in damage control. Maintaining office supplies and equipment is essential for the running of a smooth working day. The less complaints you have about a broken photocopier, the less stressed you and your staff will be.
6. Invest in employee training
“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”
— Henry Ford, Founder of the Ford Motor Company
As the nature of the business landscape is constantly evolving, it’s natural that your employees will want to learn as it grows. Allowing for training is always a positive for any organisation in terms of efficiency and progression, but it also gives your staff comfort to know that you encourage and support their development. It shows them that they are valued and appreciated.
By helping them to build their skills, you’re also building the skill set of your team. You’ll see improved employee performance and ultimately, a lower staff turnover. Employees who feel valued and see training as a benefit will be less likely to leave.
7. Be decisive in decision making
As a leader, you have to be decisive. Educate yourself on an issue, weigh up the positives and negatives before you make your final decision. Once you’ve decided, be sure to stand by it. If it falls through, be transparent and tell your colleagues before learning from it and moving on.
Uncertainty is contagious and easy to sniff out, so you don’t want it to affect your team if they catch wind of it. They trust you to guide them to success, so set a positive example and be honest with them if you do end up making the wrong decision. They’ll be much more grateful for the truth than being kept guessing in the dark.
Motivation and morale
8. Provide your staff with everyday perks
Fuel your staff for a busy day of work by offering breakfast and keeping a stash of healthy snacks in the office. Regardless of whether everyone takes advantage of it, giving people the option is an excellent way of showing consideration and letting staff know that their satisfaction is important to the business. Not only is it beneficial for health reasons, it can also foster team engagement, which boosts morale.
One thing to note however, is that while having these perks is a nice treat, it shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all that keeps your team together. Having a multitude of perks can’t hide the cracks of crumbling stability. Balance your employee benefits with security and stability for an optimal working environment.
9. Show appreciation
A simple yet sincere “thank you,” or telling someone how grateful you are for their time and effort costs you nothing but does wonders for morale. At the end of the day, results are generated by a team effort. Give back to your employees by reminding them that you really do appreciate their work.
10. Give recognition of work
Sometimes a pat on the back is all you need to give your team a morale boost. If someone’s done a particularly good job on something, never forget to recognise their hard work and thank them for it. Whether you show them some recognition internally through a company email, or externally through awards submissions and press releases, your colleagues will appreciate the thought and it’ll give their peers something to work towards.
11. Set small, measurable goals
When you’re chipping away at a huge task, not seeing immediate results can be demotivating. That’s why setting small goals to track progress is not only a way of measuring success, but it’s great for giving a boost of motivation.
12. Celebrate results
Each time your team hits these goals, don’t forget to celebrate these achievements. Let your team know exactly who did what, and how it affects the bigger picture. Be specific when you give appreciation and accolades. It lets your colleagues know that you appreciate their contributions and that they’re important.
13. Create a sense of security
While this definitely applies in the physical sense – your staff should always feel safe at work – you should also ensure that people feel secure enough to be themselves.
Making your staff feel comfortable in the office helps to give them the motivation they need to show their full selves and reach their full potential. Foster positive attitudes to individuality by showing that you know and value people’s differences.
14. Champion teamwork
“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.”
– Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple
Having a support network of people who encourage you and whom you can rely on is one of the best forms of motivation that you can have in an office. Working as a team means that, not only is the pressure and stress shared with a group of peers, but that you can also bounce off of each other to problem solve and create outstanding work.
The structure of teamwork creates a sense of camaraderie that naturally helps to improve morale.
Staff rewards and recognition
15. Provide work perks
Offering your employees incentives to work with you is an easy way to instantly raise morale levels. We can guarantee that things like free lunches, gift certificates and discounts will go down a treat. And that’s exactly what they are. Perks are a way of rewarding your staff for being loyal to your workplace, and each other. It gives them something back in return for the work that they create.
Employee perks don’t have to be things that have a monetary value. Implementing casual Fridays, after-work drinks, flexible working hours, co-ordinating seasonal out-of-office activities and allowing a “bring your pet to work” scheme are just a few creative ways that you can foster a happy work culture. These activities also have a team building element to them too, helping to bring your staff closer together.
16. Offer performance-based bonuses
If you have the budget, consider bringing in performance-based bonuses. You should always be open to the idea of bonuses as a way to reward excellent performance. It’s an effective way to say thank you, and your staff might even appreciate it more than a verbal acknowledgement of their work.
Performance-based bonuses can lift morale and motivate in two ways. They’ll give your employees a sense of gratification for a job well done, as well as motivating their peers to strive for success too.
17. Try out an incentive program
Incentive programs are similar to offering perks, except they help to actively encourage your staff to grow and work for a reward. It’s a nice balance of working for play.
From gift cards to your employees’ favourite restaurant to securing tickets to their favourite theatre show, incentive rewards can be tailored to each of your members of staff for a personal touch. If it suits your workplace culture, you can even allow loyal employees to accrue extra holiday time. Go that extra mile to prove that you do care and appreciate them.
18. Give positive feedback
For some people, the biggest reward that you can give them is positive feedback. It’s essential for building positive manager and employee relationships as you’re opening communication channels.
Giving them good feedback helps to nurture them into being their best work self. Offering constructive criticism can also be a form of positive feedback. Just remember to frame it in a helpful way.
19. Get to know your team
When you spend seven or more hours a day, five days a week working closely with people, it seems only natural to get to know them on a deeper level. We don’t mean learning the name of everyone’s childhood pet, but becoming more familiar with your staff’s interests and hobbies and what makes them tick.
Showing an active interest in your employees is a subtle way of making them feel a part of your team, and lets them feel like you care about their wellbeing as well as their work life. This is something that should be encouraged on all concurrent levels of management too. Really caring about the people who make your business a business and produce the work that keep it running is essential to creating a culture, not just a workplace.
20. Be flexible and allow for individuality
You may have a design and style for your office space already planned out, but it’s important to be flexible and allow for individuality. Your staff should feel like they’re able to bring their own personal belongings to make their desk space more comfortable and familiar. Within reason, of course.
Giving your employees the chance to personalise their desk might seem like a small change, but it’s one that’ll help to boost efficiency and increase positivity levels. Operate on a hot desk policy? Set aside individual spaces where staff can store belongings, and make personal changes there.
21. Get the team out of the office
Work culture doesn’t have to be built in the office. Organising out-of-office team building activities helps to bring your staff closer together and encourages them to get to know each other better.
A monthly office lunch, payday drinks or even just sitting away from work desks and watching TV in a communal area together can help to build an office culture.
22. Throw in the occasional surprise
Spontaneity is an excellent way to improve staff morale. Throwing in an early leave time on a Friday or announcing an impromptu out-of-office session can bring excitement and fun to your workplace.
You’ll probably want to keep them spontaneous and sparing to avoid creating expectations, but there’s nothing to stop you coming up with your own creative ideas to surprise your team.
23. Have fun
Happiness should always be at the forefront of work culture. Without it, your staff will struggle to find the motivation to come to work each day. It’s all about letting your employees know that they’re in a place that isn’t just all about the work. Show them that you care and that you see them as more than just employees.
24. Keep it clean
Encourage your employees to keep their spaces clean as it will keep the spread of germs at bay. Maintaining a healthy environment is essential. Your staff won’t feel good about coming into work, or even want to come into work, if the office isn’t in a comfortable and safe state.
25. Fill your office with plants
Whether you believe in biophilia – the theory that we seek out a connection with nature – or not, there’s no denying that plants are beneficial to our health and cognitive behaviour. Improving our quality of air, reducing stress, improving our mood and increasing work productivity are all the proven benefits of indoor plants. And it’s an added bonus that they can transform your drab office into a beautifully lush workspace.
If you’re not green fingered, succulents are a perfect low-maintenance option that can cope well with little attention. Fake plants may not provide health benefits, but they sure do look beautiful. Check out the Use.Space Café for some green inspiration.
26. Keep the work space organised
Organising a messy office and decluttering desk space is the best way to instantly feel calmer. By keeping the area tidy, it’ll help to give your employees a clearer mind and increase productivity.
Operating a clean desk policy may seem a bit extreme, and it can also be beneficial to allow for some mess, as long as it’s within reason. Creative roles often require the freedom to be a little messy as it can help when producing content.
27. Good lighting
Good lighting should be a given, as no one wants to work in a poorly lit office. While artificial lighting is the most accessible option, increasing the amount of natural light into your work space is even better.
Natural lighting is proven to have lots of health benefits that you’ll definitely want to take advantage of. Improving productivity, overall health and wellbeing and an increased amount of vitamin D intake are all things your staff will be sure to appreciate.
When you think about how long your employees spend sitting behind their desks, their comfort and wellbeing should be a top priority in the office. Investing in ergonomic chairs and desks might seem expensive, but the cost of keeping your staff happy shouldn’t be something that you compromise on.
Chairs that lack support can cause serious issues further down the line, drastically affecting staff morale and more importantly, health. Consider the accessibility of your workspace, and think about how you can make it more suitable for everyone. Is the layout of your desks restricting mobility? If you’re above the ground floor, does your office have a working lift? Accessibility shouldn’t be about meeting legal standards, it should be about making sure everyone has an equally comfortable day ahead.
29. Make your office space enjoyable to be in
Your overall office environment should be a space that your employees enjoy being in. That means it should be healthy, comfortable, productive and welcoming. These things will help to keep your staff happy, and therefore contribute to raising morale.
Curating an enjoyable space doesn’t necessarily mean installing TVs on every flat surface and filling the kitchen with a constant stream of free food. It can be as simple as keeping the office at a well balanced temperature. If your employees are coming into work in layers and layers of clothing, you know it’s probably time to turn the thermostat up.
30. Team building activities
We’ve briefly touched on this before, but we want to reiterate how important team building is to build culture and raise morale in the workplace. Team building activities can spiral into an unuseful day out from work if unorganised well, but with proper thought and planning, you can really tap into a morale-boosting activity that has a positive ripple effect for days and weeks after.
31. Simple team building activities
For startups and SMEs where budget may be an issue, consider simple team building activities like gathering your staff and asking everyone to introduce themselves. Playing two truths, one lie is a fun and engaging way to get to know people without having to break the bank.
32. Corporate team building activities
If you’re really looking to test your team, why not arrange a day trip out to a fully immersive and collaborative experience. Escape rooms are popular options, as are treasure hunt-style activities and adventure courses. Whatever you decide to pick, make sure it’s inclusive for your whole team and that it’s not something some people might feel the need to call in sick to.
33. Indoor team building activities
Worried about the headache from sorting health and safety for a team building activity that’s out of office? Bring the action to the office with indoor team building activities. Why not book a team building officer to come and spend the morning or afternoon with your staff? Or hire an activity coach to give a yoga or music session?
Whatever your takeaways from our list, consider morale one of the true gateways to running a better business. Set out to make somewhere you can’t wait to spend your day, and it’s far more likely your employees attitudes will follow. Looking for a space to build that business? Get in touch with us at Use.Space to find your spot.