The line between employee morale and productivity is not a dotted one. There is a direct connection linking teams with higher morale to lower absenteeism, increased levels of engagement and reduced turnover rates.
Happy employees work harder — but that’s not it. Workplace mood states can be contagious; one employee’s bad frame of mind can bring down other team members’ attitudes fast, particularly in the face of a company slump. Executive coaching can help leaders salvage, maintain or boost employee morale in a variety of ways.
Following are 6 general strategies to improve workplace morale:
1. Ask for — and use — employee input — Giving employees the chance to be heard can not only elevate the overall mood in a company, but it can also increase feelings of engagement. Beyond surveys and “suggestion boxes,” we work with our executive coaching clients to develop open-door policies to encourage open dialogue between team members and leaders. Hosting monthly or quarterly meetings with time allotted specifically for ideas from employees is another way to solicit great feedback. Listening is stage one; implementation of the ideas that make the most sense is the phase that completes the picture, letting employees know that their voices matter.
2. Encourage accountability — When employees aren’t held accountable, work processes break down, and other team members can’t meet their obligations. That’s stressful and demoralizing. On the other hand, according to Mark Samuel, author and corporate and personal accountability expert, accountability in the workplace can help people feel supported and trusted, ultimately leading to higher morale and employee satisfaction.
3. Show appreciation — Whether it takes the form of a company-wide Employee Appreciation Day, or a smaller-scale gesture like surprising your team with cupcakes after lunch on a random Tuesday, doing a little something to say, “Thanks, Team!” can go a long way to boost morale. Reward employees fairly when budgets allow for raises during annual compensation reviews; nothing throws a dart in morale like seeing company owners drive up in shiny new luxury cars when employees are told there is a salary freeze.
4. Foster growth and development — Recognize the potential in your employees, and encourage them to achieve it. Sometimes it’s easy for leaders to maintain the status quo when things are running smoothly, but top-performing employees deserve to be stimulated, challenged and engaged — and sometimes that means promoting them or letting them move on to other positions.
5. Cultivate trust — Transparency and open communication show employees that you are being honest with them about what’s going on in the company. Employees don’t need to wonder — either silently, or in small huddles around the coffee machine — about a co-worker, the company’s future or their job security. When there is “official” news to share, call an impromptu meeting with your team or distribute an email to fill everyone in on the latest development at the appropriate time.
Trust is also a natural byproduct of following through on the commitments you make to your team members — and those made to you and one another.
6. Communicate clearly — From conveying the company’s vision to giving succinct directions on a project, we always emphasize the importance of clear communications to our executive coaching clients. Leaders set the stage for team members’ performance; it is of utmost importance that employees have a clear understanding of their mission and responsibilities in order to succeed and to feel good about their contributions to the overall objectives of the company.
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