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Five Ways to Supercharge Employee Morale

Five Ways to Supercharge Employee Morale

By: Emily Bennington, Monster Contributor

During the Great Recession, as companies were simply bailing water trying to survive, employee morale and job satisfaction wasn’t exactly high on the priority scale.

But now that we’re all seeing a few green shoots in the economy, it’s time to turn your attention back to giving staff a little overdue tender loving care.

Employee Morale and the Bottom Line
Oh….still thinking morale issues are just “soft” HR stuff?

If so, consider this: The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that it costs at least 25% of a person’s salary to replace them.

So if you’re experiencing high employee turnover OR your staff is in place but just phoning it in, what do you think this is costing you in terms of client service, worker productivity and profit potential?

The answer is: Quite a bit. Besides, you’ve already spent a lot of money recruiting the best talent, right? Ok, then. Let’s talk about how to keep them.

Make people your bottom line. If there’s one thing most companies don’t seem to “get”, it’s that employees today want more than just a paycheck. They want to be happy at work, realize a great future, and feel connected to something bigger.

Moreover, they want to work from a place of being inspired, not just “compliant.” If you’re not sure where your company falls on this scale or how to get there, your first step is to conduct an employee survey.

Hire a third-party administrator so employees feel safe to tell the truth; simply ask them:

  • How they feel about working for your organization.
  • Do they know what’s expected from them?  
  • Do they understand your company mission, vision and their place in it? 
  • Do they feel supported and regularly receive constructive feedback on their work?
  • Do they have up-to-date technology? (This is a HUGE source of frustration for employees – and yet so easy to fix!) 
  • Would they describe your company culture as driven yet still collegial?

Based on the survey results, identify your company’s top three priorities for increased employee engagement and – here’s the kicker – actually take action to address and resolve them.

Give ‘em a clear path. The January 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review presented a study that found the #1 driver of employee motivation is an experience of progress. And yet, this is another area where companies don’t get it.

In fact, a recent study by talent management firm Cornerstone revealed that eighty-two percent of surveyed employees hadn't established ANY career goals with their manager and 53 percent said they didn't have an understanding of how their role contributed to the company’s broader business objectives.

Um, wow.

So this is clearly where career development plans come in; however, even businesses that offer plans usually get the process backward.

In other words, most companies simply tell employees what’s on their plan, thereby missing a big opportunity to increase engagement and, as a result, employee morale.

But the process works best when supervisors outline the specific benchmarks that employees are expected to meet and then let the employee take over and offer solutions on how to get there.

You may not agree with all of their tactics but the fact that you asked sets the stage for a discussion and not a morale-busting monologue.

Understand that time really is money. Let’s say you have a fabulous employee and you really want to give them a raise. No, wait. A bonus. Yes, a one-time bonus because that would be easier on the pocketbook. But – oops! – either way you can’t afford it.

You still have some leverage, my friend, in the way of flexible-work arrangements, extra vacation days, mini-sabbaticals, working from home part-time and/or guilt-free exercise breaks.

All of these little gems have been proven to boost morale without upping your payroll.

Hire great managers. It’s been said that people join companies and leave managers. If you’ve ever had a dud boss yourself, you know what I’m talking about. Excellent managers can make you want to skip to work. Lousy managers can make you hate your whole life.

So in a very real sense the collective morale of your people rests on the competence of your leaders.

One of my favorite tools for “measuring managers” is the Gallup Q12. Gallup spent 7 years and conducted literally thousands of interviews to distill the notion of “engagement” into a quantifiable questionnaire.

If every company held leaders accountable for how their staff answered those 12 questions, we’d have a very engaged workforce indeed.

Make the connection between morale and recruiting. Here’s the deal: When your staff becomes disillusioned, your company brand becomes tarnished – not just in their eyes, but in the eyes of prospective employees too.

After all, everyone is on social media these days — and if burnt out employees have taken to the web to talk about you, it will become even more difficult to attract the best talent.

So in that sense, what can a negative impression from a current employee do to prevent you from finding future employees? Trust me, if ordinary people using social media can knock down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya – you know this stuff is powerful.

No, that’s not just hyperbole — because nothing less than your current and future competitiveness depend on the morale of your employees. So keep your staff happy. Because their engagement doesn’t just contribute to the bottom line – it drives it.

Author Bio:
Emily Bennington
specializes in two distinct forms of career transition: college students entering the workforce and women leaders entering executive management. Her work deep dives into what Stephen Covey famously referred to as “the space” between stimulus and response where she challenges executives to choose mindful, values-centered action. Emily is the author of Who Says It’s a Man’s World: The Girls’ Guide to Corporate Domination and the co-author of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. She can be reached online at emilybennington.com, on Facebook and on Twitter