Employee Morale Boosters: 25 Ideas Your Staff Will Love
- William Powell
- 3 Min Read
Running a successful organization requires managing a bazillion things at once. From major initiatives like business goals to small tasks like ensuring there’s ink in the printer, there’s a lot that goes into running an organization. Sometimes, that means employees get moved down the priority list.
Business owners may burn a ton of creative energy figuring out the best way to address their business objectives. That’s great for the overall business, but a business is only as good as its people. You have to remember to effectively engage employees.
Here’s the good news: You don’t have to install a gym or hire an executive chef to increase employee morale at the office. In most situations, little things can make a huge impact on day-to-day productivity and engagement.
To save you some mental energy, we’ve outlined 25 employee morale boosters to start moving engagement in a better direction:
1. Group Volunteer Opportunities
No matter where you are, you’re never far from great volunteer opportunities. It could be helping to paint an elderly person’s house, or building one with Habitat for Humanity. Look around; it shouldn’t be too tough to find a community need. Better yet, ask your employees what cause they’re excited about.
2. Make Business Results Transparent
Every team contributes to the success of the organization. Make key business information public within the company, and share it often. People like to know they are impacting overall company success. Help that along a bit. Maybe you hold a “Town Hall” meeting, or automatically share results on a company dashboard.
3. Make Room for Personal Interests at Work
Steve Browne is the Executive Director of HR at LaRosa’s Pizza in Cincinnati, OH. One of their corporate employees loved to cook. So, for this employee’s birthday, he got to cook breakfast for his team at work. This was on company time and he wasn’t “doing his job.” Do you think his teammates were jazzed about a great breakfast? And about witnessing their teammate geek out about doing what he loved? Of course.
4. Ditch the Wet Blanket
We all know the crowd who can find a problem with every solution. Why are they still working for your company? They aren’t happy there. There is most likely some misalignment – whether it is mission, vision, or values. You aren’t helping them flourish by keeping them there. And you aren’t helping your employees flourish by keeping them there either. Cut the cord and give them the freedom to align with a place that is closer to who they are as a person.
5. Themed Office Days
Would less work get done if your VP of Operations showed up in parachute pants and vintage Nike high-tops? Heck no. Don’t be afraid to be human. Let your folks know you share a common purpose—building a successful organization. Here is a great example of themed office bonding from Southwest Airlines.
6. Take It on the Chin as a Leader
Change is a constant in the workplace. Many change initiatives fail somewhere along the line. Make it a point to take the heat for your team. Then discuss with them how everyone—yourself included—can do better the next time.
7. Treat People Like Adults
This may seem a bit silly. But review the policies and processes that try to babysit adults into compliance. You hired adults with skills, passions, and goals. Make room for your staff’s creativity and vigor. Figure out how to channel it into the needs of your organization. Employees don’t need babysitters, they need opportunity.
8. Revive the Lunch Break
We have all had to sit through a “working lunch”. We want people to contribute and eat at the same time. Working lunches can be awkward, if you don’t do them right. Make it a cultural component that lunch is lunch and work is work. People like to eat and switch off for a few minutes. Your bottom line will thank you.
9. Acknowledge That Your Talent Are People
Managing human capital and resources makes for riveting curriculum fodder. But it stinks for employee morale. Employees are people. They are not a resource to consume. Treat people like people. The morale boost will contribute to your business’s success.
10. Make Birthdays a Paid Holiday
Your birthday is like your own personal holiday. Let people choose one: the day before, the day of, or day after their birthday. Don’t ding their accrued PTO. Let it be their day, with pay. One extra day of PTO won’t make or break your company. If it does, you have bigger problems than boosting employee morale. If a coworker does come in on her birthday, throw her an office birthday party or do something special.
11. Make Games a Priority
Maybe you have department day at a baseball/football/soccer game. No team nearby worth watching? Put a chessboard in the break room. Play encourages learning. You don’t have to have a full-blown arcade room to make this a perk.
12. Family Day
Let people bring their family to work one day a year. If that’s too complicated, then designate a few days throughout the year when family is welcome. Be creative. Engaging an employee’s entire family does wonders for employee support and morale.
13. Increase Executive Access
Depending on the size of your organization, this could be a little complicated. But nowhere near impossible. When was the last time your CIO informally chatted with the folks who keep the servers running? Employees want to feel connected. Executive interaction is a big deal.
14. Do Lunch and Learns
Carve out some time to learn from one another. People get to see what you know based on what the project at hand asks of you. What people don’t get to see is what you know about other areas. If there is a big project coming up for your organization, hold a learning session. Invite people from different areas. You get to network and learn about a common topic, without the pressure of having to solve an organizational problem. Morale improves, and so does cross-functional collaboration.
15. Fitness Contests
Being physically fit helps you sleep and think. Well-rested and mentally agile employees are productive and innovative. Maybe it’s a “Biggest Loser”-style contest, or FitBit step competition. Find a way to make a friendly and reward the participants. It could be a department lunch (something healthy, of course!), or the opportunity to do a one-on-one with the CEO.
16. Special Projects
This isn’t an open door for nepotism or playing favorites. Make it about developing the talent in your organization. Your team has skills that fall outside their job descriptions. Find out what those are and let them use those skills on a special project. You’ll not only boost morale, you will deepen your talent pool and talent options.
17. Decorating Contests
Let people jazz up their work areas. If your teams sit together, then let each team decorate their area based on a theme. That theme could be a holiday, or something you come up with as an organization. The prize could be bragging rights, or the most hideous trophy you can dream up. You choose!
18. Crowdsource Ideas
The C-Suite shouldn’t have a monopoly on ideation. Create some sort of mechanism for idea sharing. You could use something like Yammer or Slack. Whatever you decide, make it: simple to use, organization-wide, and public. When you use someone’s idea, make it public. If it makes the company more money or increases margin, then share the love with a small bonus.
19. Reward Failure
How often are things ignored because failure isn’t accepted in your organization? This is not only great for morale. It’s an excellent way to shift your culture to one of innovation and excellence. Fear of failure means people stop taking risks. Celebrating the lesson learned from failure means people become committed.
20. Put a Cap on Office Hours
Sixty-hour work weeks are neither productive nor engaging. They are morale killers. A 40-hour work week is spending 50% of our waking hours away from family. A 60-hour work week is 75%. I get it, you have 0.3 FTE and 0.5 FTE and so on. Make it a percentage. No more than 110% of your standard work week, for example. And stick to it. Reward those who make this a practice, instead of punishing those who go over.
21. Bring on Naptime
How about making a nap/meditation room? Give people 20 minutes to refuel so they can perform at their best. Stop micro-managing productivity of resources and start acknowledging human needs. You’d be surprised how a subtle shift in thinking can boost morale.
22. Change Your Thinking
Are you always trying to prevent people from abusing a privilege or perk? For the love of everything holy, please stop. You’re managing the value out of it. Assume the best from people and design things around that type of thinking. When a small amount of people abuse it—and they will—deal with them on an individual basis.
23. Consider Sabbaticals
This is a great opportunity to boost employee morale, retention, and brand recognition. After a set period of service, give people the option to take a sabbatical. Let them focus on some personal projects or interests. They’ll come back refreshed, rejuvenated, and motivated.
24. Make Authenticity an Organizational Virtue
People get exhausted trying to perform. Let people bring their whole self to work. Sure there are some weird folks in the world, but aren’t we all weird in some fashion or another? Don’t force people to burn all their creative energy on organizational survival. Let them be authentic and apply that creative genius to making your organization successful.
25. Massage the Stress Away
Have a massage day. If you can’t make the financials work to offer it at no cost, negotiate a discounted rate for your staff. Make it a couple days per month or on a certain day of the week. Many massage therapists are looking for new clients and this works to their advantage as well. A low-cost alternative: partner with a vocational school that offers a massage therapist program.
What are your go-to ideas for boosting office morale? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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