You’ve heard it a thousand times, but that doesn’t make it any less true — happy employees lead to happy customers. It’s a simple statement, but actually achieving it isn’t so simple.
The past couple of years have been a huge drain on most people, both professionally and personally. Anyone that you speak to has either experienced a major setback firsthand or knows someone who has been affected by these difficult times. Stories of job loss and financial uncertainty are everywhere you turn. Worry and fear are common emotions and morale has taken quite a beating.
“Because morale is a state of mind, it can be affected by any number of things,” says Michelle Elson, corporate director of operations with Ashton Staffing. “In the workplace, the most prevalent are feelings of undervalue, uncertainty of the future of the company and frustration due to a perceived lack of communication. These types of emotions breed dissension and it is very important to step in before things get out of control.”
Smart Business spoke with Elson about employee morale, how to improve it and why engaged employees are so important.
How can morale be turned around?
The key to a turnaround is to make employees feel appreciated. When employees feel valued, they are more willing to take on additional responsibilities until things improve. It also fosters loyalty.
Communication is critical during uncertain times. Employees like to feel that they are involved in the vision and progress of a company. Keeping employees informed about where the company is headed, whether into tough or good times, can allow for creative thinking, problem solving and a boost of energy.
Goal-setting is crucial to invigorating your team; everyone loves competition. You must be realistic though; nothing is more demoralizing that an unattainable goal or deadline. Make sure each member knows his or her role and how important it is to the growth and future of your company. Establish a realistic expectation that will motivate your employees.
Recognition of a job well done or acknowledgement that a person has gone above and beyond is instrumental to in- creasing morale in the workplace. Praise good work performance, both verbally and officially. A shout-out at a meeting, small gift card, a handwritten note, or an afternoon off can go a long way in making an employee feel recognized and appreciated.
Why are engaged employees so important?
A person that is energized and excited about the role they play in an organization will have a positive impact on those around them. Positivity improves the attitude and outlook of other employees. Stress is minimized when an energized employee views an issue as a challenge rather than a problem.
Motivated employees set personal goals and are more successful in their career objectives. The feeling of accomplishment leads to better productivity and teamwork. It instills a sense of ownership and belonging in an organization.
Employees who are happy in their jobs won’t hesitate to provide good customer service and will take opportunities to sell your company to those they speak to. They will also stick around when the economic climate improves.
What defines a great workplace?
It is a place with a defined purpose and attainable expectations. It offers challenges and rewards, and allows for career development. It garners mutual trust between management and employees and allows for open communication and independent thinking.
How can employers improve the workplace?
Establish a sense of purpose; outline how each individual’s job supports the mission and goals of your company. Set high expectations and provide meaningful challenges. Treat employees as individuals and create an environment that encourages independent work but also provides guidance when needed. Communicate regarding progress and offer praise consistently. Offer learning opportunities and encourage seasoned employees to share their knowledge.
Who is most responsible for morale? Leaders? Employees? Both?
The leaders set the tone for morale in a company. Their attitude and outlook have a direct impact on how employees perceive a company. It is also important to realize that decisions — however small — can directly affect your employees and should not be made lightly. As you are building your team, make sure they have similar goals and gather a team that will work well together. Don’t set people up for failure.
The employee’s responsibility involves maintaining an open mind and a receptive attitude. Sometimes the energy required to motivate an employee outweighs the benefit. In this instance, the employee just isn’t a good fit for the team and/or the organization.
What is often overlooked when it comes to morale?
Leaders can sometimes overlook that showing presence and taking interest in the well being of their employees makes them feel valued. Take a few moments to chat and interact with your employees daily so that they know they are impor- tant to you and the company.
Michelle Elson is the corporate director of operations at Ashton Staffing. Reach her at email@example.com or (770) 419-1776.