If you’ve ever run a business, you know how difficult it can be to find and keep good people. We’re talking about those people that make your business run and make it look easy. Those people are hard to find, and making sure they stay motivated and happy is even harder. Today, employee morale is more critical than ever.
In this article, we'll cover 5 basic ideas to boosting employee morale, with several examples of each idea.
How to Boost Morale in the Office: 5 Creative Ideas Improve Employee Morale
We usually equate good morale with a good mood or a good, pervasive vibe in the office. But the actually meaning carries some pretty interesting connotations. According to sociologist Alexander Leighton,
"Morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose."
Shines a whole new light on morale, right? If you’re interested in ideas to boost employee morale at your office, it might take looking past happiness (although that never hurts) to find new ways to pull your people together. And more often than not, that means finding new ways to bring out their best.
For those of you interested in boosting morale at your office, we’ve created a list of what we have seen work with our clients, and have broken it up into the five commandments of employee morale.
1. Boost Employee Morale By Celebrating Accomplishments
It’s easy to find criticism in the workplace. When something doesn’t go right, we all hear about it. We have post mortem meetings (if that term doesn’t kill morale, what will?) and we try to find ways to improve.
But how often do we celebrate accomplishments? Probably not often enough. Some ideas to improve employee morale include a good mix of recognition and celebration of everything that’s gone right this week, last month, or during the year. Tell your people that their actions are moving the needle, and find creative ways to do it. It’s a free way to boost employee morale. Try, for example, compiling a list of all their accomplishments over the year and publishing it during the holiday season.
I. Thou Shalt Celebrate Accomplishments:
Keep an Accomplishment Journal
When your company accomplishes something, write it down. Whether it’s a log book, an office white board, or a blog, keeping a journal that outlines and celebrates victories really improves office morale. Just make sure to track the small accomplishments as well as the larger ones. And whatever form your journal takes, keep it accessible and visible.
Develop a Ritual
When something goes right, celebrate it with a ritual. Drinks, food, or a simple cheer can do wonders when boosting employee morale.
Employees respond to rewards because they help them feel validated and appreciated. Next time you experience a big win in the office, reward your employees with an extra day off, a movie, gift cards, or even a note that expresses how you feel.
Throw a Party
Far too often accomplishments are only celebrated in secret by upper management when it’s the front line workers who need the encouragement. Include your staff in company successes by throwing a monthly or quarterly party. It doesn’t have to be huge, but a small celebration to recognize progress can go a long way in boosting employee morale as well as strengthening relationships between employees.
2. Keep Employees Engaged with Passion Projects
We’ve all heard of the Google 20% rule. The internet giant lets its employees dedicate 20% of their time during work to projects they’re passionate about. It’s a policy that goes beyond increasing employee morale—it’s turned Google into one of the most sought-after places to work. Letting your employees dedicate some of their time to the things they’re passionate about could pay big dividends in the morale department.
II. Thou Shalt Promote Passion:
You might not know it, but your employees are doing some pretty incredible things outside of work. They’re creating things, doing things, and making a big difference. Take some time on your corporate blog, meeting, or newsletter to spotlight individual employees and promote whatever it is they’re passionate about.
Start a Passion Fund
Your people have great ideas, and they’re willing to work tirelessly to make them happen. Unfortunately many lack the means to take those ideas to another level. Start a passion fund to help. Like a scholarship, a passion fund can be awarded to an employee or multiple employees to pursue whatever it is they’re working on. And if their project has a real business benefit, consider funding and sponsoring it.
Expand the Table
As you get to know your employees and learn what they’re passionate about, invite them to meetings you feel like they could contribute to. Instead of outsourcing a design project, find someone inside your own office walls who’s passionate about design first.
3. Highlight Company Values to Boost Morale
Right now we’re seeing an interesting shift in society as well as the workplace. As more baby boomers retire, they’re being replaced by millennials who come to work with different values. They care about experience over things, for example. And here’s a pretty interesting tidbit: 63% of Millennials want their employer to contribute to social or ethical causes they felt were important. That’s a big increase over baby boomers. Engaging in community service or outreach programs can engage your workers and shoot your employee morale through the roof.
III. Thou Shalt Do Good:
Do Some Pro Bono
Whether you work at an accounting firm or a design agency, there are always opportunities to ply your craft for someone in need—and do it for free. While taking on extra, unpaid work might seem like a drag, studies show that employees prefer to work on pro bono projects. It boosts employee morale because people feel like their talents are being used towards a greater good. Clearlink does the Walk for Water, and here at Incorporate Massage, we love our Taking Care of Teachers Program.
Adopt A Cause
Get your employees together and ask them which causes they’re passionate about. Get specific, too. Find out what charities they donate their money and time to. Then have them vote on a cause that your company could sponsor. Sure, this could be a monetary contribution, but you have other resources at your disposal as well. If your cause is homeless pets, for example, you can have an ongoing company-wide sign up sheet to volunteer at the shelter.
Think Community First
It’s easy to champion big, huge causes. After all, we all want to fight cancer or end homelessness. But those are already being championed on a massive scale. A sure fire way to boost employee morale is making a small difference in the communities your employees live in. Find the park that could use a facelift, the homeless shelter that needs some canned goods. The opportunities are endless and the impact is enormous when you think small.
4. Casual Fridays for Employee Happiness
Yes, there are still a lot of industries where a suit and tie are still the norm. But if you absolutely don’t need it, what’s the point? Letting your employees go casual doesn’t hurt anything. Just the opposite, actually. Getting to wear jeans to work boosts morale like you wouldn’t believe. And if you’re still clinging to business casual promoting a professional atmosphere, you might want to reconsider. Just look at some of the top performing companies out there. Most of them don’t have a dress code.
IV. Thou Shalt Keep it Casual:
If puppies don’t improve employee morale, nothing will. Let’s face it: people love their pets. Give them an opportunity to bring their four-legged friends in on Fridays. We guarantee you’ll see an increase in smiles—and office morale.
Who doesn’t like wearing an ugly Christmas sweater or repping an alma matter with a t-shirt? A great way to instill some much-needed informality in the office while boosting morale is to theme several days during the year. The themes can be…well…anything you can possibly think of. Best of all, theme days are completely free.
Trash the Titles
When possible, consider getting rid of formal titles. While titles can play important roles in peoples’ professional lives, they can also create an atmosphere that’s much too formal and stringent. So if you don’t have to absolutely go by Senior Vice President of Innovation, think about going by Director of Fun.
5. Keep Employees Happy With Spontaneous Celebrations
Nothing stagnates employee morale like a stagnant office. Mix things up. Let your employees work from home once in a while. Hold a company potluck in the middle of the week. Turn daily, mundane tasks into a competition. The more variety, spontaneity, and diversion you can throw into your workplace, the more you’ll see an increase in employee morale.
V. Thou Shalt Mix It Up:
Nobody wants to be stuck in a fluorescent-lit office during the summer—especially on a Friday. It kills morale. Instead, think about letting your employees take a few summer Fridays to themselves. It will pay big dividends in the morale department.
Don’t merely assume that your employees want to rush home right after work. For many, the relationships they have in the office are some of their most valuable. Encourage, sponsor, or even host a happy hour after work.
During an eight hour workday, we need to be invigorated to do our best. Instituting group exercises during the day or week doesn’t just enhance office morale, it can help your employees work more efficiently and bring out their best. This doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Consider, for example, two minutes of group jumping jacks every hour. Or you can bring in an instructor for corporate yoga once a week.
That One Weird Thing
Whether it’s a pinball machine or the mounted moose head, think of something weird and unique that only your office has. This builds culture, a sense of identity, and it can help your employees take pride in the office.