How to Improve Employee Morale With These 7 Proven Strategies

Employee morale. Wikipedia defines it as job satisfaction or a feeling of well-being in the workplace — but morale offers far more than happiness to businesses that find a way to truly harness it.

Need proof? Research shows a clear link between employees’ morale and increased job performance. Companies that use employee morale boosters also see a significant impact on their bottom-line.

Low employee morale, on the other hand, can negatively impact those same business health metrics. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees (i.e. low morale) cost the U.S. between $483 – $605 billion each year in lost productivity. In your company, that cost may take the form of absenteeism, lower productivity, and higher turnover costs.

The good news? Raising employee salaries isn’t the only approach to improving employee morale. Here, we’ve compiled seven techniques that have a low cost, but high impact on employee morale.

1. Use Public Recognition Employee appreciation matters. According to a Glassdoor appreciation survey, 53% of employees stay at their jobs longer if they get appreciation from their boss, while 76% of employees in a Psychology Today study identified peer praise as extremely motivating.

Private recognition is great — but public employee recognition is one of the best ways to boost morale. Not only does it tell team members what they’re doing well — but it creates positive peer pressure for employees to do their best work.

So, tell everyone when your employees are doing a great job and encourage peers to do the same. Call out star performers or departments at team meetings for good work. Showing employees that you notice and appreciate their hard work transforms employee morale — and creates a happier work environment and better company culture.

 2. Revamp Your Goal-Setting Process Employee morale goes up when employees feel like they have an impact on the direction and success of their company. When you listen to and implement employees’ suggestions, you put in place changes that directly impact your bottom line. Oftentimes employees have the best sense of what changes help their jobs (and your company) flow more smoothly. And putting employee ideas in place serves as a great morale booster.

For example, one Amoco plant in Texas put in place a suggestion plan that saved the company over 18 million dollars in only two years. The company publicly recognized employees with winning ideas in front of the entire company (including executive management) and rewarded them with tangible awards and travel.

In the 1990s, Black and Decker introduced their “Everyone Counts” program — designed to get employees involved in decision making. In the first weeks, more than 85% of their employees volunteered. They were divided into 39 teams who were asked to come up with five good ideas every 12 weeks. Employees submitted more than 200 ideas, of which 59 were approved. One employee-driven idea to substitute new material in one of its product lines saved the company $700,000.

 3. Encourage Continued Learning According to The Economist, the rate of technological change has forced the modern workforce to adopt a life-long learning mindset. From a business standpoint, helping employees master new skills ensures that your employees continue to have an impact and that you have people in place to meet your company’s emerging needs.

Bonus points? It’s also one of the best ways to improve employee motivation. Forbes identifies continuous learning as one of the fastest paths to engagement. Giving your employees the ability to either learn more about their job — or to attend meetings to learn from other departments — goes a long way to boost employees’ morale.

4. Give Employees a Voice According to Inc., employees who stay with a company that prioritizes profits over its team members are likely to be under-performers.

It’s not that profit and growth aren’t important, but keeping the people who make profit and growth happen ensures that your company will move forward. So, show them that you value them. Acknowledgment from an executive, a simple conversation at the coffee pot, or celebrating their birthdays are all good ways to start.

Take a tour of our platform to see how you can embed appreciation into your culture.

5. Make Rewards Meaningful When it comes to rewarding a job well-done, many executives revert to giving their employees small cash bonuses. But once an employee earns a certain wage or salary, cash is no longer an effective morale booster. To continue to get the same impact on employee morale, you might need to keep raising the bonuses over time, ultimately costing you way more money in the long-run.

Instead, give employees the rewards that matter to them: experiences. Research shows that experiences build long-term happiness more than gift cards or things.

In the Kazoo office employees pick their rewards. One of our most popular rewards requires employees to pool points to get a keg of cold-brew coffee. Sure, we would still like the cold brew if the company provided the perk without any effort on our part, yet each cup seems a little more special because we had to work together to get it.

6. Communicate your Values Employees need to resonate with your company values, which is why they should know what they are (and for them to be relevant to their work.) A 2015 SHRM Study showed that companies that tie recognition to corporate values kept employees around longer than those who didn’t. On top of that, millennial employees (who are soon to be half of the working population) have said that they care about their company’s values and ethics.

In her open letter to employers, Lisa Earle McLeod captures what seems to be a global sentiment among millennials:

“I was raised to believe I could change the world. I’m desperate for you to show me that the work we do here matters, even just a little bit.”

7. Make Employee Morale Activities Genuine Forced office socials and cheap, thoughtless gifts will be recognized as such, and you risk disengaging your employees with them. Instead, focus on gifting your employees the things they want. We recommend that you focus on the four pillars of comprehensive employee experience (connection, appreciation, meaning, and impact) to authentically and sustainably boost employee morale.