However important you think employee morale is, you’re wrong. It’s even more important than that. Business leaders are always looking to eke out another couple of percent here and there, but the impact of morale on profits is almost always in the double digits. That’s why even the coldest, most finance-focused business leader has to take the amorphous world of employee morale very seriously.
To that end, here are some things you can start doing right away that won’t cost you a thing and that will contribute to happier employees, better productivity and fatter profits.
1. Thank them. This is the easiest kind of feedback to give because virtually everyone deserves thanks for something. As a rule of thumb, aim to do this with every employee at least once a week. Use a calendar or other aid if that will help you remember. Make your thanks specific, and mean it: “great job on that report to the board” beats a generic “thanks for your hard work.”
2. Reward them. We all know that rewards motivate and engage employees. What we forget is that the most welcome rewards often aren’t financial. A desk with a window, a day off or coffee with the boss are better ways to express appreciation than a gift certificate or small cash reward. Title improvements without pay raises and plum projects are other ways of recognizing great work.
3. Look after them. An often-overlooked but absolutely fundamental leadership responsibility is to make sure your employees have what they need to do their jobs well. Proper tools, workspaces, systems and support are prerequisites to high employee morale.You work for them when it comes to providing the necessities. Don’t fall down on that job.
4. Address them. Town hall meetings are nothing new, but they’re rarely done well. The best guidance is to keep it simple and to make sure they lead to action. Without action, cynicism grows and attendance and morale fall. Make action lists during the meeting and commit to timeframes. Report back soon. Refrain from lectures, long speeches, admonishments or deflection.
5. Share with them. Employees need to understand their role in the bigger picture. If you share information with them, you communicate that you’re all on the same team working toward common goals, and that’s good for morale. Let people know how the company is doing, what challenges it’s facing, what you’re working on and what the future brings.
Check back next week, as I build on this list with five more things you can do to engage your employees and boost morale in the process.
Jay Lebo is one of the founders of Gravitas Business Architects, and has been helping companies multiply growth and outperform the competition for more than a decade.