How to Boost Employee Morale and Motivation

How is employee morale at your company? Hear from 3 business owners on how they’ve boosted and rebuilt workplace morale.

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Wow, life has been a wild ride recently, huh? We’ve managed to largely make it through a global pandemic and an economic fallout that came alongside it. If your small business is still up and running, chances are you have your dedicated employees to thank.

For most people, the last year and a half or so has been anything but easy. Burnout is on the rise and that means that employee morale is plummeting as a result. It can be easy to go full steam ahead to get through crisis mode, but once the frenzy dies down, it isn’t unusual for a drop in employee morale to follow.

Whether this is the first time you’re considering how to repair or boost your employees’ morale or you’re not quite sure how to do it in a semi-post-pandemic world, here are a few tips and tricks for boosting employee morale with examples from real-life small business owners like you.

What exactly is employee morale?

Employee morale focuses specifically on how your workers feel about coming into work every day.

There are all kinds of terms out there: employee engagement, employee happiness, employee morale, and the like. While all of these terms sort of fall into the same general employee wellbeing bucket, employee morale focuses specifically on how your workers feel about coming into work every day.

Are they jazzed and energized? Do they engage in the work they’re doing? Do they find it meaningful and in alignment with their job responsibilities? If so, you’ve likely got morale to go around.

On the other hand, if work has become a drag that your employees more or less suffer through each day — or they have disillusionment about the big picture of their work or the direction the company is going — chances are they’re operating with very little morale.

As you can probably guess, employee morale has a lot to do with employee satisfaction and retention. Generally, the greater your employee morale, the less likely they are to leave and the more productive they’re likely to be — a win-win for them and your company!

How do you motivate employees with low morale?

Morale can naturally wax and wane — sometimes based on factors out of your control like your employees’ personal lives — but if it’s constantly low or in a steady decline (employee surveys are a great way to measure employee morale, by the way), then you’ve probably got a problem on your hands.

Luckily, you’re not the first small business owner to deal with this issue. There are a variety of ways that you can motivate individual employees to boost their morale. Ewelina Melon, Head of People at Tidio has found that employee recognition is key.

“As we all want to be valued for our work, it’s vital to praise employees for a job well done. There is nothing worse than unnoticed efforts and it can [have an incredible] influence on the whole team’s morale,” Melon said. For example, she has implemented a Wall of Fame, including kudos for employees within newsletters, and bonuses for achieving monthly goals in order to keep employee recognition and appreciation front and center.

Melon also encourages all managers to start team meetings by calling out successes and celebrating achievements. “I observed that these small gestures make our employees feel much happier, productive, and engaged as they know their efforts won’t [go] unnoticed,” she says.

“As we all want to be valued for our work, it’s vital to praise employees for a job well done. There is nothing worse than unnoticed efforts and it can [have an incredible] influence on the whole team’s morale.”

How do you boost morale across the workplace?

Morale goes beyond just the individual. Company-wide morale is something you should be paying attention to as well and also working to boost and maintain. On the company level, morale has a lot to do with your workplace culture and the efficacy of your managers and company-wide leadership.

Ben Lamarche is a general manager at Lock Search Group. He has found that increasing access to senior leadership can help boost and maintain employee morale. “We invite a member of our senior leadership team to speak with employees each week,” Lamarche said. “For example, one week the CEO might meet up with the team for a short motivational talk, and the next week the company chair might come over for a Q&A session. Allowing access to company management lets employees know that the organizational leadership is in tune and available.”

How do you rebuild team morale after it’s been damaged?

If your team’s morale is broken for one reason or another, such as layoffs, it’s time to enter repair mode. One good thing is that repairing damaged morale doesn’t have to be as daunting as it might seem.

Arnold Long, General Ops Manager at Mr. Blue Plumbing, has found that the simple yet effective approach of simply asking employees what they need can go a long way.

“We increased employee morale by sending out a short survey in which we asked them two simple questions: What do you need to become a more effective employee? What are you struggling with right now?” he said. Of course, it’s key to follow up and act on the responses received, but Long says it’s critical to send the survey out frequently so that it’s a continual, iterative process (as it should be!) rather than a one-off event.

Continually taking the temperature of team morale is a great way to stay on top of any declining morale issues before they become major problems in the form of something terrible like a mass employee exodus from the company.

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