Creative Ways to Improve the Morale and Productivity of Your Employees

Whether your team is working from home or in the office, there is no way that their morale will stay the same throughout the year. Employee morale is a very important metric that can make or break any company, and it’s even more crucial for small businesses and startups with a low number of employees. If you’re keeping an eye on your employees’ morale and productivity, it’s easy to tell when they are not feeling their best or have a problem with the way business is carried out. From high turnover rates to decreased employee engagement in business-related activities and conversations, you need to be aware of the signs of low morale. Sometimes, it can all be chalked up to something specific, such as a new protocol or change in management, but the causes don’t necessarily have to be obvious all the time. If morale is consistently getting lower, the performance of the employees will take a plunge that could affect the entire business, leading to major losses, not to mention that you could lose your top talents in the process.

A productive team with high morale is a magnet to top talents and partnership opportunities, so ensuring that your employees are at their best is your ticket to the top. We’ll be listing some of the most creative ways that can help you boost your employees’ morale and improve their productivity.

 

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Determining the Cause of Low Morale

Before you attempt to rectify an issue, you need to understand the root causes that made it appear in the first place. Lack of morale is a problem that can continue to get worse if it’s left unchecked, and the decline in productivity that follows will cause a downtrend that’s hard to break. At first, it might be hard to recognize where everything went wrong, but it’s important to take some time to assess the situation. Here are some of the factors that you should keep in mind as you attempt to find the cause of low morale.

●     No Room for Growth

Employees naturally link their career growth with the business’s growth, which means that stagnation can cause employees to be unmotivated. Employees need to feel that they have a positive impact on the company and that its growth can be traced back to their contributions. Without growth, your employees are bound to feel bored due to the lack of challenges and new opportunities.

●     Lack of Clarity

Employees aren’t supposed to feel like they have no clue how their efforts are being utilized by the company. The lack of clarity can slowly reduce morale to a state of stagnation and uncertainty. Their goals should be clear, as this allows them to perform to their best ability, knowing which challenges to expect. It’s always recommended to check on your employees’ performance and help them overcome any hurdle that could be hindering their progress.

●     Change in Management

Changes in leadership and management can sometimes cause ripples that affect the company’s culture. While it’s sometimes a necessary evil in mergers and acquisitions, you should help your employees through it and show your support.

●     Give Them a Cause

If all your employees care about is the cheque at the end of the month, you’re doing something wrong. While money is certainly a great motivator, your employees need something else to continue growing professionally. Enthusiasm can dwindle when employees’ expectations don’t go past the salary. Giving them a higher cause to work for can help them see things from a different perspective, such as charity work, preserving the environment, and similar causes. Productivity is linked with employees’ morale, so you should expect it to increase as they become more motivated towards the cause.

Giving Your Employees the Right Tools

While all good employees will do their best with what they have, solely depending on their ability to do so is a sure-fire way to negatively affect morale and productivity in the long run. If you truly want to guide your employees on the path of growth and success, giving them the right tools and resources is going to be a great aid in their journey. You can create a knowledge base that new employees can refer to in order to find valuable information, in addition to setting up a guide of the best practices for new hires as you increase the influx of new employees. Since the lockdowns of the COVID19 pandemic have started, a lot of employees have been working from home, and it’s important to provide the right support and tools to remote workers because they are more vulnerable to morale dips. One of the most affected areas is successful communication. There are different solutions, however, it’s important to choose an effective tool like this to make sure that you are avoiding all chances of miscommunication. Employee development should even include things outside the professional capacity, to allow them to evolve on a personal level as well, and help them gain skills like empathy, soft skills, and improved communication.

Promotions and Raises

Promotions are one of the oldest plays in the book, but it’s always a smart decision when your employees’ productivity is starting to nosedive. You need to keep a close eye on their performance and announce that the most productive and active workers are getting a promotion or raise. This can help retain employees and keep them more motivated by injecting a healthy dose of competition into the environment. Keep in mind that this solution needs to be reinforced by other morale-boosting strategies to ensure that you’re doing all you can to tackle the issue.

Improving the Feedback Process

Feedback is very important when it comes to improving employees’ performance and guiding them in the right direction. It’s important to understand that flow of feedback shouldn’t be centrally controlled by the employer or manager. Employees should be encouraged to seek feedback rather than wait for their managers to give it to them once or twice a month. This free flow of feedback helps employers properly assess their employees’ performance without forcing a certain narrative or situation. As an employer, you should look for the tools that allow your workers to report and communicate easily with their supervisors and managers. Furthermore, getting people to request feedback helps them show that they care about improving their work and overall performance.

Managers as Coaches

Your managers should be encouraged to start looking for the subtle yet unique talents that could be hidden within the teams they manage. These positive attributes can be quite helpful in increasing the flexibility of the business during hard times. Managers will become more apt at assigning tasks to the employees that are most qualified to do them, in addition to working with the employees to create new job descriptions that would help make them more productive and passionate about what they do. When employees feel heard and understood, their morale will increase alongside their productivity and engagement. Managers that excel at their job don’t just push their employees to improve, but they also help them discover natural talents and points of strength that they never thought they had. As managers become more autonomous and skill-nurturing, their team can scale in both capability and numbers, boosting morale as well as the efficiency of the team.

Showing Appreciation

According to several studies, the best performing team is often one that is highly supportive of every individual, in addition to having managers that truly appreciate the strengths and feats of their employees. The appreciation can translate into pushing people to become more engaged and creative. This is one of the easiest ways to boost a worker’s morale almost instantly, not to mention that it makes them put in extra effort because they know that it will be met with appreciation at the end of the day. Tensions can often arise in a workplace, so creating a healthy environment that absorbs negative energy can help employees alleviate a lot of tension.

 

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Create a Productive Environment

There are many aspects of catering to the needs of your employees to help them maintain a high level of concentration and productivity. This might come as a surprise but the road to creating a suitable work environment that stimulates productivity starts with the office design. Many crucial elements need to be considered to make sure that your workplace is comfortable. Many people think “open” when they think of a successful office design. This factor is indeed important, but it’s not everything. A successful office design should strike the balance of facilitating productivity and providing comfort while leaving room for creativity, personalization, and customization.

Employees might not consciously think about the design, however, they are spending around 1800 hours yearly in this space that they subconsciously get affected by. Think of small, grey cubicles as an example. The majority of employees feel suffocated and low-spirited without understanding that the small lifeless area they are spending the majority of their time in might be affecting not only their productivity but also their mental state. There are many steps to designing the perfect office for your employees. One of the most important tips to follow is using natural human instincts to navigate you towards the right design.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors in productive office design. Your choice of lighting indeed affects many aspects of work-life such as productivity, mental state, and even workplace safety. For starters, integrating natural light sources is integral to our bodies’ circadian rhythm. It ensures a boost to vitamin D levels and an improvement in employees’ mood. One important aspect you need to take into consideration is choosing the right source of light in the right space. For example, in the corridors and break areas, it’s better to use warm light sources such as lamps to provide comforting and inviting spaces where employees can rest and calm their minds. In the actual workspaces, however, the more optimum lighting solution is cooler light such as LEDs to stimulate the mind, reduce fatigue, and promote collaboration.

You can also use other elements to amplify the effect of lighting such as large mirrors to give the illusion of a more spacious workplace. You can also play with the use of curtains and light/dark walls.

Paint and Colors

The colors we surround ourselves with have a great impact on our mental state and mood. They have the power to prompt different physical reactions from our bodies. To be able to choose the right colors for your workplace, you have to think of each space on its own. Depending on the function of every space, you can choose the right colors for that function. For example, soft and muted colors are more suitable for rest areas, unlike rich and energetic colors that stimulate energy levels. For your workspaces, shades of green and blue can enhance efficiency, improve focus, and spur innovative thinking.

Plants

It’s natural for us to be inclined to connect with nature. Having plants around the office has been the subject of many studies that have reached one important conclusion; plants improve workplaces. Adding greenery to your workplace can reduce stress, ensure better air quality, and even help in reducing noise levels. To reduce the required effort for maintaining plants in the workplace, you can mix and match between natural and artificial plants. There is always the option of choosing low-maintenance plants to enjoy the effect without having to do extreme effort to maintain them.

Control Noise Levels

Even people who are comfortable being in crowded, noisy areas could still suffer in a noisy workplace. Where high concentration and focus levels are needed, noise is your worst enemy. In all workplace studies, noise is hands-down the worst and most common complaint. This applies, especially, to open-plan offices. The conclusion to these studies determined the negative impact noise can do;  increasing anxiety and stress, decreasing job satisfaction and illness rate, and causing distractions that disturb workflow. Many sound masking systems can be used to eliminate unwanted sounds and noises. Also, if your employees tend to use headsets in their job, you can always provide them headsets with a noise-cancellation feature.

Since the Covid-19 health crisis came about, employees and companies have suffered from low morale and productivity levels. However, extreme and immediate measures need to be taken to restore normal workflow. Start by assessing problems and workplace shortcomings that might be negatively affecting your employees’ mental state and focus. This way, you will be able to tackle these problems to achieve a better and more efficient workplace.