If you’ve ever dealt with a sarcastic service rep, a surly salesperson or survived an office that was more toxic than a Superfund site, you know that employee morale can make the difference between a thriving company and one destined for the dumpster.
Many managers know that poor communication and lack of recognition are the biggest reasons for low employee morale. What many don’t know is that the occasional pizza party or cash bonus probably won’t turn those unhappy workers into smiling dynamos.
Believe it or not, research shows that cash incentive programs are far less effective in boosting morale than recognition programs that tie employee performance to meaningful non-cash rewards.
Nobody recommends substituting trophies and concert tickets for bonuses and pay raises, but even companies on tight budgets can increase morale with programs that award gifts to high-performing employees – provided the gifts have a high perceived value.
One proven method for raising morale is to establish achievement clubs that recognize top performers at quarterly or annual events. Gifts can be as generous as stays at luxury hotels, spas or exotic travel, or as thrifty as theater tickets, housecleaning services or car washes. Experts have found that tangible non-cash incentives are more memorable, and do more to increase employee productivity.
Whether your program takes the form of a lavish awards ceremony or merely a gift box left on an employee’s desk, be sure to reward employees whenever they meet or exceed certain performance criteria – preferably, criteria linked to particular company goals.
Some additional moral boosting techniques:
- Hold regular meetings with individuals or groups to address questions and concerns, and to hear complaints and suggestions. Workers want to know that managers care about their problems and are willing to implement suggestions.
- Protect employees from abusive customers. When you see a conflict with a customer, intervene to protect the employee and resolve the dispute.
- If you can’t avoid layoffs, at least notify the staff that layoffs are coming. This allows workers to prepare their budgets for the worst, and will help prevent demoralizing rumors and gossip.
What kinds of morale boosting measure have you taken in the past?