Every manager knows that morale is key to a successful business. After all, happy, engaged people who enjoy their jobs and get on well with their colleagues put in that extra ten per cent, meaning a better quality of output and higher productivity. There are indirect benefits too, not least that reduced staff turnover makes for a more stable office environment and means less time and money spent on recruitment and training.

Over and above all that, a workplace where morale is high and everyone gets along is a better place to spend eight hours of every day, and this is something that is hard to put a price on.

All this is well understood, and is part of the reason why every MBA student spends hour after hour poring over Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and other such management theories. One of the first conclusions that comes from such studies is that some witty student will always suggest giving everyone a huge pay rise to improve motivation. It’s as if nobody has thought of that before! The fact is, it is proven that pay increases may appease staff in the short term, but do not inspire long term motivation. Of course, knowing the management theory is one thing; tangibly implementing it is not always so easy.

Here are three pointers on how to give workplace morale a boost that will work, regardless of your industry or culture:

1) The right person for the right job 

How many people find themselves doing a job almost by accident, or because they needed something and it was a role that happened to be available? Compare that with those who are doing something that is a great match for their skills. Clearly, the latter implies a more motivated employee, as well as one who is almost certainly doing a better job.

By doing all you can to ensure each employee is in a role that matches his or her knowledge, skills and — even more importantly — interests, you will improve morale. A personality test is an interesting and fun way to get started, and also demonstrates to employees that you are interested. 

2) Recognition 

Sometimes, it is the small things that count. Surveys have shown that more than 70 per cent of workers feel a little recognition from senior management would have a huge impact on office morale. A simple thank you for a job well done, or an email on someone’s birthday will make it clear that employees are not just seen as another piece of office equipment, but are truly valued and recognised as fellow human beings.

3) Development

Most workers intuitively understand that the process of helping an employee develop their career path is a good way to improve motivation and reduce staff turnover. A study by staffing company Randstad found that three quarters of employers feel that employee development is important, but less than half do anything about it.

Discussing short, medium and long term career aspirations as part of the appraisal process is a great place to start. The conversation also needs to focus on how you can help the employee achieve these goals through training and development.

Continual assessment

The above tips will help to improve staff morale in any environment, but it is important to remember that this is not something that can be done once and then forgotten. As a manager, it is your responsibility to constantly monitor staff morale and work proactively to keep the workforce happy and engaged.

For more on this subject, try reading some of my other posts on engagement.

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