20 Ways to Boost Employee Morale and Prevent Burnout

Employee morale: the unsung hero of workplace metrics. And now, it’s more crucial than ever. 65% of HR professionals identified improving employee morale and preventing burnout as a top priority in 2021 in the wake of a global pandemic that’s strained the economy and impacted the mental health and well-being of workers worldwide.

Ready to roll back emotional exhaustion and recharge your workplace? Take a quick peek at our 20 tips to boost morale and prevent burnout — then deep-dive into how each affects employee engagement in the article below.

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1. Be transparent at the leadership level

Your employees are smart. (That’s why you hired them!) So if there are problems with your company culture, they’ll know.

Don’t try to sweep issues under the rug. Instead, build trust by being transparent about what’s going on and what you’re doing about it. That psychological safety is a building block of strong teams and high morale.

2. Establish a meeting-free day each week

Ever look at your calendar and see the whole day vanish into meetings? You might be at risk of burnout.

Meetings may be better than email floods (at least, if you’re an extravert). But they can also be a fast track to job burnout. And when you’re already working long hours, the unnecessary meeting hustle can ratchet up stress and sink morale.

So stake out a weekly meeting-free day for your company or team, and encourage folks to be more strategic and efficient with the meetings they do set. Less wasted time = less stress = happier employees!

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Your Complete Guide to Addressing Job Burnout

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3. Crowdsource team-building ideas

Team-building events are a corporate staple — but you can kick yours to a whole new level by soliciting employee suggestions. Why? One, you’ll be more likely to have an event your team members actually like. And two, your employees will feel an additional sense of ownership and buy-in.

4. Go green with plants in the workspace

Just gonna plant the seed here. Studies show that going green isn’t just about saving the planet — plants can save office morale, too!

Don’t have room or funds for a plant wall? Or maybe all your workers are remote. Include plants in the home office budget you offer workers, or take a page out of the Online Mortgage Advisor’s book and send each employee a sunflower seed to plant and care for. Sydney researchers found that “just one plant per workspace can provide a very large lift to staff spirits.”

Be-leaf us, morale will blossom!

5. Promote work/life balance

Let’s get real for a minute: 20% of American workers spend 5+ hours at work each week stressing about health, finances, and family. That’s 5 hours of morale-sinking anxiety every week.

The fix? Treat your employees like human beings whose personal lives are important. Flexible hours, paid time off, conversations about self-care, and work-from-home policies will help workers address those real-life needs at home. This frees them up to bring their best energy to work — and morale will soar.

6. Make laughter part of the workplace

Is laughter really the best medicine? Science says yes — at least as far as mood and camaraderie are concerned. So give funny employee awards, create an #LOL company Slack channel, and keep the good times ROFLing.

7. Make recognition public, loud, and proud

Do you value your employees? Show it! Glassdoor reports 53% of employees stay at their jobs longer if they get appreciation from their manager. And it’s not all about the boss. 76% of employees in a Psychology Today study identified peer praise as extremely motivating, too.

Battling high turnover? Need a morale lift? Bring recognition to the forefront with a solid recognition and rewards program. Better yet: Make your recognition public, and share it in real-time.

Unlock the power. Transform your culture.
The Power of Recognition and Rewards

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8. Acknowledge life events and losses

To recap: public recognition is a no-fail way to boost employee morale. But it goes deeper.

When employees experience significant personal life events or stressful situations such as loss, they can feel isolated in a culture of nonstop celebration. Take care of your team members by sending a private, personal note to let them know you see and support them.

It’s an easy way to create a personal connection and foster goodwill.

9. Re-evaluate your perks and benefits

Everyone loves perks! In fact, 53% of employees say company perks make them feel valued. But do your perks actually boost employee morale?

Take a minute to audit your company’s perks, benefits and rewards. Do your offerings support your employees’ emotional and physical health? On the benefits side, think about Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that provide mental health benefits (plus flexible PTO, and the other promoters of work/life balance).

As for perks? Focus on company-sponsored activities that bring employees of all ages and backgrounds together. According to Gallup, having friends at work is a huge morale boost and motivator.

10. Encourage professional development

Schoolhouse Rock had it right. Knowledge is power. And with our wise friends at Forbes identifying continuous learning as one of the fastest paths to employee engagement, consider professional development your power — to boost employee morale.

So take action and make opportunities for your workforce to attend conferences, take courses, host meet-ups, and more and watch that morale skyrocket.

11. Bring pets into your work

Invite love into the work day. Puppy love, that is.

Science confirms it: Giving a furry pal some pats during the workday reduces stress, nurtures productivity, and even reduces absenteeism. So bring those pups to work! It’s science. (Just make sure to have clear hygiene and vaccination policies in place.)

Working from home? Host a “hoppy hour” to let coworkers introduce their pets to the team. (You’ll see them on Zoom anyway….)

12. Encourage frequent 1-on-1s and check-ins

It’s no secret that the manager-employee relationship can make or break a job. So make those relationships positive.

Studies show that continuous performance management (meaning, having conversations and providing feedback year-round, not just during annual reviews) opens the door for more coaching, builds trust, and helps employees see managers as a positive resource rather than a purveyor of looming to-do lists.

So encourage managers to meet with employees often to help mitigate the signs of burnout: Coach employees on time management, help remove blockers and stressors, and take a genuine interest in employees’ personal lives. It’s not just good for the employees — it’s also good for business.

13. Sing together

Looking for Zoom happy hours that don’t suck? Try office karaoke. Maybe the thought of singing with coworkers sounds fatally awkward. But hear us out: When people sing together, our heartbeats fall into sync.

With that connection comes endorphins that combat stress and promote happiness — even if you aren’t good at singing. So give office karaoke a shot. It might be music to your hearts (if not your ears), and provides a huge boost to wellness.

14. Help employees give back

Charitable giving makes us happier, sweet and simple. Happier, in fact, than receiving gifts of rewards of our own.

Bring that do-good joy into your workplace by enabling charitable giving for your employees. We recommend building donations into your custom rewards catalog, allowing employees to vote for charities to fund, or sponsoring company volunteer days.

If they dream it, you can offer it as a custom reward with Kazoo.
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15. Build gratitude

Talk about a simple solution: Expressing gratitude is a proven antidote to aggression. It also boosts productivity and decreases stress, making it a perfect mixer in your office morale cocktail.

Create a gratitude wall in a break room or common space — a cork board, whiteboard, or chalk wall where employees share what they’re thankful for, in and out of the workplace. Working remote? Create a #gratitude channel in Slack, or set aside the first five minutes of your weekly meeting for a gratitude check-in.

16. Don’t work with jerks

This is a toughie. But it makes a world of difference.

Is an employee’s bad attitude dragging down their team? First, try meeting with the employee and their manager separately to see what’s going on. It’s possible the employee is experiencing stress at home that’s spilling over into the workplace — or that they’re genuinely being mismanaged.

If you can’t find a resolution, and especially if the toxic attitude is spreading to others, it may be time to let the employee go. Toxic employees don’t just impact office morale — as noted by Harvard research, they also affect your bottom line.

Identifying and dealing with toxic team members


17. Invite employees to share skills

It feels good to be an expert. So help your employees shine by creating opportunities for them to showcase their skills and knowledge.

Host company lunch and learns, and professional meetups — or sponsor after-hours skillshares, talent shows, and more. (At Kazoo, our employee-led “Culture Club” has led game nights and other fun after-hours workshops!)

18. Host in-office fitness classes

Regular exercise doesn’t just lower your company’s healthcare costs. They also boost morale and bring people closer together.

Studies show that exercise reduces stress and make us kinder to each other. For an added morale boost, let your employees lead classes — you may find you have a secret yoga, boxing, or pilates master in your midst.

19. Take real lunch breaks

Step away from the desk! When you’re feeling overworked and overwhelmed, it’s easy to power through the lunch hour in front of your computer. But it’s actually, as Forbes argues, a shortcut to low morale.

Give everyone a mid-day boost by encouraging employees to actually take time out to eat lunch. They’ll return to their desks happier and mentally refreshed. Plus, this helps foster those all-important office friendships.

20. Use custom employee rewards to reflect your culture

Take your recognition and rewards program a step further: Build out your rewards catalog to include custom rewards that reflect your employees and their values. It’s a great way to demonstrate you see your workforce. Plus, morale will soar as employees earn rewards they’re actually excited about.

Ready to improve workplace morale?

At Kazoo, we’re passionate about bringing together all the tools you need to make work work better for everyone. That’s why the Kazoo Employee Experience Platform brings performance management and recognition and rewards — including Goals, Feedback, Conversations, Recognition, Incentives, and more — into one simple, easy-to-use platform.

If you’re ready to align, connect, and engage your workplace, check out our Kazoo overview. Or, schedule a personalized demo today.

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