20 Proven Ways to Boost Employee Morale

Dave Cherrie
November 11, 2022

When your employees are happy, it shows in the quality of their work — and the quality of products and services your company offers.

But while taking an interest in employee morale is a great first step, you’ll need to follow up with strategic and decisive changes to company culture and processes to really make an impact. This includes addressing some common causes of poor employee morale, including lack of career advancement and too many Zoom meetings.

If you take an interest in your employees’ happiness, you can avoid some of the common pitfalls affecting numerous companies. According to Gallup, 50% or more of U.S. employees are quiet quitting, a phenomenon that can be avoided by actively chatting with and supporting your employees.

Here are some ways employee morale suffers that you should seek to prevent, plus 20 ways to bolster happiness within your company.

5 Causes of low employee morale

1. Toxic leadership

Workplace bullies and toxic workplace culture are some of the major reasons why employees leave. The Society for Human Resource Management found that one out of five Americans left a job due to poor company culture, which is normally set by managers.

Don’t let toxic managers or culture drain your employees’ morale and contribute to high turnover. Instead, take action to remove troublesome individuals.

2. Change — even good change

It goes without saying that negative changes at a company can really put a damper on morale. Leadership and culture changes, in particular, can make it difficult for employees to focus on the tasks at hand. Even positive changes, however, can become overwhelming if not handled correctly.

If you have to make company changes, remain aware of how employees are processing everything — including events that might affect your team outside of work, like the pandemic. Try to address any lingering anxiety or questions, but remember that transparency is the best policy — especially if the changes could lead to a negative situation, such as layoffs.

3. No communication or direction

When there’s no communication coming from the top, employees are left with no direction on what to prioritize and no insight into how their efforts impact the company’s goals. And when teams try to communicate with leadership but don’t hear back, it can be a huge hit to morale.

With no communication, neglected employees sit and twiddle their thumbs and are more likely to leave for a new opportunity.

4. No growth opportunities

A  lack of growth is a huge drain on employee morale. A company that doesn’t offer to help employees grow, learn new skills, and improve on current strengths shows that it likely doesn’t care. And according to Monster, 29% of employees who recently quit their jobs say the main reason was a lack of growth opportunities.

By offering opportunities for employees to continue their development and move into new roles in the company, you show an interest in their future. On top of that, you show you care about providing them the resources they need to tackle their current role successfully.

If your company or team is small and you don’t yet have a professional development initiative, provide employees with a learning stipend or sign them up for online learning platforms like Coursera and Udemy.

5. Too many meetings

There’s a time and a place for meetings, but be sure to respect your employees’ time when you schedule them. Overscheduling meetings can show team members that you don’t trust them or that you need to control even minute details of their work. 

George Deeb, a partner at Red Rocket Ventures, suggests capping the percent of the week devoted to meetings at 20%

20 Effective ways to boost employee morale

1. Communicate transparently

Clear and open communication is key to any thriving business, but it’s not always easy to achieve. Without it, you risk not only low morale but missed goals and unclear targets. According to Harvard Business School, you can improve your communication in the following ways:

  • Actively listen and engage in conversation — but don’t interrupt.
  • Remain transparent and share info on company goals, opportunities, and challenges.
  • Include specific information, such as desired results, milestones, or due dates.
  • Use open-ended questions and remain empathetic.
  • Ask for and implement feedback.

2. Give frequent praise and recognition

Make sure your employees feel appreciated and know their contributions are seen by providing regular praise. It’s also important to give credit where credit is due and recognize your employees’ efforts in front of leadership and peers. 

According to O.C. Tanner’s 2021 Global Culture Report, companies that regularly give recognition are four times more likely to have highly engaged employees. Employee recognition not only boosts engagement and morale, but it can boost loyalty and retention as well. 

Best of all, recognition doesn’t cost anything or require any effort — a simple Slack message or announcement can go a long way toward recognizing your employees’ hard work in a positive way. 

3. Accept feedback

Being open to feedback is a key way to build trust with your employees. By asking for and accepting feedback, you show your team that it’s safe for them to share ideas and thoughts in an open and honest manner.

Gathering employee feedback can also be a huge advantage. Asking questions like, “What would you change?” can give you critical insight into problems before employees walk out the door.

On the flip side, sharing feedback is also hugely beneficial. According to Hotjar, feedback creates a “stronger, more harmonious workplace”.

4. Be open to disagreement

It can be easier to avoid tough conversations regarding disagreements, but what that really shows your team is that you aren’t open to hearing their thoughts. Instead, good sales leaders should be open to listening to and discussing opposing opinions in a respectful manner. 

Christian Juhl, CEO of media strategy company GroupM, says that “suppressing even casual disagreements is dangerous and unsustainable” and “criticism is central to creativity.” It’s up to leaders to ensure there’s space for disagreement.

5. Plan non-work activities

While some companies are urging their workers back to the office, many are remaining fully remote. Whatever place your team calls the office, non-work activities are key for improving relationships, collaboration, and morale. 

These activities can be as simple as setting aside 30 minutes every other week for a casual chat with coworkers. Some companies host virtual or in-person happy hours or coffee breaks. If your team is mostly local, you could also invite everyone to a teambuilding activity where you give back to the community by participating in service projects.

6. Allow flexible work time

According to Accenture, 63% of high-growth companies allow their employees to work anywhere, while 69% of no-growth or negative-growth companies require their employees to work in one place (either onsite or remote). 

Flexible work requires a bond of trust, but the benefits are huge. The same report by Accenture also noted that 85% of those who work for companies that allow them to work anywhere plan to stay for a long time. 

Keep in mind that flexible work also applies to work-life balance. It’s reasonable for leaders to require their employees to attend meetings, but it’s unreasonable for them to require employees to miss key life events or appointments just to punch a time card.

7. Provide new career opportunities

A clear path for growth should be included in transparent communication with your team. When employees see how to get to the next level, it motivates them to work harder to achieve those goals.

It’s also important for sales leaders to talk regularly with each teammate about where they want their career to go. Planning a career path together empowers employees to take on new challenges and contributes to a sense of fulfillment and job satisfaction. 

Other ways you can help your workers advance in their careers include:

  • Let employees take on new responsibilities. 
  • Set up mentoring and job shadowing programs.
  • Be transparent about how current roles may change and whether new roles might be added.
  • Clearly outline what success in an employee’s current role looks like as well as how they’ll know when they’re ready to move up.

8. Allow (and encourage) time off

Vacation days are an excellent way for workers to disconnect from workplace stressors and refresh and re-energize. But not everyone is inclined to take time off. In fact, U.S. workers didn’t use 29% of their paid time off in 2021, despite 64% saying they “desperately” need a vacation.

Even if you request leave, it’s easy to drag work to the beach or a relative’s house with you. Help your team get the most out of their time off by encouraging them to hand off any projects or tasks and provide templates for doing so. Let them know it’s your expectation that they won’t reply to emails, phone calls, or Slack on their days off.

9. Provide incentives

Incentivizing your employees can go a long way toward boosting morale. Incentives can make success more tangible, and they improve teamwork and productivity.

The incentives you offer could range from gift cards to team lunches to bonuses, depending on how well a certain type of incentive fits into your team and company strategy. 

You can further boost teamwork and productivity by pairing incentives with friendly competition. Pit team members against each other to see who can reach certain goals first, or let your team monitor leaderboards to see who’s logging the most calls this week.

10. Survey your team

Surveys can give you a peek into your team’s overall morale, so it’s important to send one out on a regular basis. Shorter surveys, like those you can create with Tinypulse, can be sent monthly to keep tabs on the fluctuations in employee well-being.

It’s also worth sending out a more comprehensive survey at least once a year to spot potential issues that might drive down team morale or cause burnout.

11. Promote physical and mental well-being

James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits,” writes that “positive psychology research has revealed that we tend to think more broadly when we are happy. This concept…makes it easier for us to make creative connections between ideas.”

Happiness is linked to creativity, so if you want your team to come up with creative solutions, it’s worth setting aside time for their well-being. Allowing employees to focus on gym time or relaxation — or even to take a brief walk around the building — can restart their creative engines.

Focusing on your team’s welfare includes assigning your employees fulfilling tasks. Gallup found that the quality of an employee’s work experience has up to three times the impact on their well-being compared to how much time they spend working.

12. Provide the right tools

It’s important to put the right tools in your team’s hands, especially as you add new employees to the mix. The right tools help your team be efficient and spend less time on mundane tasks that could be automated.

And less time spent on day-to-day housekeeping means higher company morale and profitability. According to research by sales productivity platform Dooly, sales reps reported that 41% of their time wasn’t spent selling

By providing the right tools, like CRM software, you can free up your team’s time to focus on actions that directly impact your bottom line.

13. Provide learning opportunities

When you pair learning and development with opportunities to move up in the team or within the company, you positively influence employee retention.

An easy way to give your employees learning opportunities is to include professional development perks. This could include:

  • Mentorship programs
  • Job shadowing
  • Online learning subscriptions
  • Executive and leadership training
  • Tuition stipends

Learn how to build a team that wants to go to work.

Your people are your most valuable asset. Learn how to engage your employees with proven strategies from Dr. Steven Johnson, a corporate engagement program developer.

14. Stay calm

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Keep calm and carry on.” But you can’t expect your team to do either of those things if leadership isn’t actively working to reduce stress and remove roadblocks.

If you run point for your team, you ensure they’ll have a much more positive employee experience than if they were carrying all the stress on their shoulders.

This also means remaining calm when problems do filter down to your team and helping your sales reps work through them. 

15. Build an emotionally intelligent leadership team

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions as well as those of others. Instead of letting your emotions take charge, you become aware of your emotions and harness them to solve problems.

An emotionally intelligent leader has the following traits that positively impact their team:

  • They’re aware of their impact on others.
  • They use their emotions to achieve desired outcomes.
  • They’re both emotionally and cognitively empathic.
  • They pay attention to what’s said — and what’s unsaid.
  • They encourage positive emotions in their team.
  • Their rich emotional vocabulary allows them to reflect in the moment.
  • Their main goal daily is to impact their team and entire work environment positively.

16. Hire diverse talent

According to Gallup, 42% of employees consider a diverse and inclusive workplace a major factor when considering their next job. So it goes without saying that inviting diverse workers to your team boosts positive employee morale and retention. 

A diverse team is also more capable of empathizing with clients from different backgrounds, and they bring a wealth of unique ideas and perspectives.

17. Celebrate work anniversaries

Celebrating anniversaries is an excellent way to promote retention. By publicly cheering on teammates who’ve been with the company for one, three, five, or even 10 years, other employees see it’s worth staying.
Work anniversaries also recognize employees for their dedication and hard work. And you can easily personalize anniversaries by inviting your team to contribute ideas for the best way to celebrate. 

18. Reduce the number of meetings

Remote work ramped up during COVID-19, and it seems that, for many companies, it’s here to stay. This makes meetings a bit challenging, since arranging schedules when teammates live in different time zones or even different countries is difficult. 

Instead of forcing everyone to attend meetings — whether they’re remote workers or not — asynchronous collaboration may work better for your team. When communication is asynchronous, teammates share info when they get it, and those who receive this info respond to it when they’re ready.

Asynchronous collaboration also reduces the number of meetings your team needs to attend, which frees up their time to focus on more impactful tasks. Some easy ways to introduce asynchronous communication to your team include:

  • Use messaging and communication tools like Airtable, Slack, and Trello.
  • Record video using tools like Zoom, Grain, or Loom.
  • Set up space for non-work communication, like Slack channels dedicated to common interests.

19. Don’t reward bullies

Workplace bullies can easily sabotage your efforts to boost staff morale. Through belittling, dismissal, exclusion, intimidation, and other negative behaviors, bullies don’t just cause their targets to suffer, they bring down the whole company.

The impact of workplace bullying is long-lasting. When companies let bullies go unpunished, they not only show employees that their well-being isn’t valued, but they also force them to endure severe mental and physical health risks. 

A research study published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal found that workplace bullying contributes to “low work efficiency and quality,” which costs companies in terms of profit and growth. It’s important to establish a zero-tolerance policy and proactively take action to protect your team against bullying.

20. Celebrate success and learn from failure

It’s just as important to discuss failures as it is to celebrate successes. Analytics platform Culture Amp has a Slack channel called #yay-we-failed, where employees can discuss recent mistakes and what they learned and gather feedback. 

Postmortems are another excellent way to chat about and learn from failures. If you want a more formal approach, check out Atlassian’s guide to conducting a blameless postmortem

Boosting staff morale shouldn’t be the job of just one. As a leader, regularly checking in with your team will help you discover the most meaningful ways to keep their morale high. Asking your employees for ideas on improving workplace culture will also impact their overall feeling of fulfillment.

If you’re looking for easy-to-implement tools to keep your employees on top of their game by boosting morale and incentivizing productivity, why not book a demo with Arcade? Our gamification platform literally turns work into fun and games.

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