There is no one-size-fits-all solution to creating an environment that promotes high employee morale. As Millennials enter the workforce, their idea of employee morale goes beyond office perks such as the occasional free lunch. In fact, a recent survey of Millennials showed nearly 40 percent of respondents said employee well-being is a priority for their future workplace, with employee growth and development as a close second.
Keeping employees invested in their employer and its goals can be key to the success of a business. Constructing this type of atmosphere is no easy task and takes time and financial commitment from management. Although there is no quick fix, there are a few timeless truths of building and maintaining employee morale.
Fulfilling basic needs
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, every one has five levels of needs that must be met in order to reach fulfillment; and meeting these needs for employees can equal success for a company.
On the most basic level, a person’s physical needs must be met: water, food, sleep and health. While naps at work may not be a feasible option for many employers, the other three items can be a critical boost for a high-morale environment in the workplace. For example, providing bottles of water and a budgeted amount of office snacks can help rejuvenate employees without a large financial commitment. For employee health, offering a strong employee benefits package can go a long way, especially for younger generations attracted to employers that actively support their well-being.
The next aspect of fulfillment is safety and security. Establishing an office safety plan in case of emergency can help employees feel comfortable and taken care of in the workplace.
Social belonging and respect as a member of the team comprise the third level. Solid relationships with supervisors and co-workers can encourage an employee to be personally invested in the success of the company and his or her work. Managers should establish an environment where employees’ ideas are valued, and constant feedback and constructive criticism are provided.
The fourth level, self-esteem, speaks to a person’s need to be recognized. Managers should take the time to acknowledge employees’ good work and celebrate successes with the entire team to boost overall morale.
The final level of human needs is self-actualization. Business owners can make an investment in their employees’ future by providing access to professional training, classes or seminars that will help them perform their jobs better and continue to grow.
Communicating is key
Internal communication is a major component of a high-morale environment. Managers should maintain a high level of transparency with employees through communication tools like the intranet, regular office-wide emails and face-to-face meetings. Keeping employees informed can reduce the amount of time and energy spent gossiping or speculating about the company’s direction.
In addition to understanding the company, employees should also understand the employer’s expectations in order to clearly perform their job role. Establish a mutual understanding of responsibilities and priorities with each employee so workers know exactly what is expected of them and, in turn, can fulfill personal and company-wide goals.
Managers should also make time to discuss an employee’s career path within the company. Work with employees to establish both short- and long-term goals that align with those of the company. Establish definable tactics to reach those goals to keep job morale high and create positive momentum regarding the employee’s future.
Thinking strategy, not salary
Many business owners believe maintaining morale among employees means offering giveaways, bonuses and even salary increases. These ideas are temporary and may not acknowledge the fundamental truth of improved morale– constructing a long-term, satisfying work experience. Pizza parties and flowers do not sustain satisfaction, and salaries cannot compensate for low job morale.
Managers who make an effort to apply the above tactics will likely see a noticeable boost in employee morale, resulting in:
- An increase in employee retention rates
- Improved business performance
- More engaged employees with a strong work ethic
- Fulfilled employees
Since employees spend the majority of their time at work, fostering an environment that caters to the basic needs of employees is critical. In most cases, the result will be eager employees that contribute to a highly successful company.
Eric Bonugli is a district manager and Kay Oder is a Certified Business Performance Advisor for Insperity located in the company’s Austin office. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 29 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance.