If you have a hard time keeping your employees engaged and motivated, you’re not alone. Morale and motivation are hard to get these days. More than 100,000 workers quit their jobs every day, resulting in billions in lost productivity and hiring costs.
In the modern workplace, remote or otherwise, keeping employees on staff requires more effort than placing donuts in the breakroom or starting meetings with ice-breaker games. Senior leaders and managers need to evaluate their engagement practices and take concrete steps to create a company culture that keeps employees happy and productive.
However, this is, of course, easier said than done. Use these strategies to boost employee morale and motivation.
Retool your meetings
Meetings aren’t entirely bad, they’re just often executed poorly and overdone. The best way to disengage your employees is with long meetings with large groups of people.
“When a meeting starts to feel like an audience, it frightens some people—and gets too enjoyable for others,” says Leo Benedictus, author and contributor for the Guardian. Some employees relish the spotlight to talk about their projects, while others feel like they can’t safely talk about issues or feel heard.
To have more productive meetings that keep employees motivated and engaged make these changes:
- Include just 5 to 9 people. Within this sweet spot, you can involve stakeholders to get the buy-in you need without bringing in the entire department to voice their opinions.
- Survey employees. What do they struggle with most and how can you change that?
- Set meeting-free times throughout the week so employees can have one less thing on their calendar.
Empower your managers to act
Your employees can be a fountain of ideas for your middle-managers and senior leadership. They just need to feel comfortable offering their advice. Researchers find that one of the main reasons managers ignore employee ideas or even actively discourage them is because they aren’t able to act on the good ideas they do get.
In fact, managers working in a low empowerment environment are 30 percent less likely to seek feedback from employees.
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Too often, senior leaders encourage employees to speak up without creating a safe or positive environment for them—or without having a way to implement the ideas they like. The work here needs to start with empowering managers with processes they can use to get ideas from employees reviewed and implemented quickly and easily.
Encourage lunch breaks
Something as simple as a lunch break can have a major impact on employee morale. A survey by Tork found that employees who take lunch breaks have higher job satisfaction and effectiveness than those who do not. In fact, 88 percent of workers who take lunch breaks are satisfied with their jobs, compared with 82 percent of satisfied workers who do not.
Yet, too often, employees feel pressured to work through lunch to meet deadlines or stay in their manager’s good standing. When working at home, it’s even easier to eat and work at the same time, rather than taking a true break.
According to the Tork survey, personal workload plays a much larger role on whether or not an employee will take a lunch break than company policy. If you encourage team members to take their lunch hours but pack their workloads to a bursting point, they aren’t going to feel empowered to step away from their desks.
Celebrate your employees
In the rush of client deadlines and large-scale projects, it’s easy to forget about the mental health of your employees. One easy way to boost morale is by highlighting the hard work your team members do and the value they provide.
The good news is, there are many ways to celebrate your team members. However, Mike Robbins, author of Bring Your Whole Self to Work, emphasizes the difference between recognition and appreciation.
Recognition often comes from the top, is performance-based, and is typically based on past work. While valuable, your employees can also benefit from appreciation. Appreciation means acknowledging a person’s inherent value. Robbins explains: “In simple terms, recognition is about what people do; appreciation is about who they are.”
Consider how you recognize and appreciate your staff. You can thank an employee for completing a project and compliment another on their dedication or organization. A few words can have a significant impact on morale.
Open the floor to your employees
There are many ways to boost employee motivation and morale. Use the strategies as a foundation, but don’t forget to make it safe for employees to connect with their managers and share ideas for improvement.
Whether you need to update your meetings processes, get more employees to truly sign off for lunch, or simply need to share more words of appreciation, remember that it’s the small things that go a long way.
Continuously check-in with employees and let your company culture evolve with their needs to keep everyone motivated and happy.