11 Effective Ways to Increase Employee Morale

Coworkers with high morale looking at a tablet together.

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A high morale workplace is essential to ensure long-term business success. No matter what kind of business you have, where it's located, or how large or small it is, low morale can quickly derail your business causing costly errors and, ultimately, lead to business failure. 

What Causes Low Morale?

The root causes of low employee morale are numerous and include job security; unclear expectations on the part of employees; lack of communication between employees and their direct reports; lack of employee recognition; limited upward mobility; lack of trust on the part of management; unreasonable workloads; a high turnover rate; (perceived or real) lack of fair pay, and much more.

To increase employee morale and enhance staff motivators, a diversified approach always works best.

The Costly Impact of Low Employee Morale

Like a disease, poor morale can infect every aspect of an otherwise healthy business. It can lead to reduced productivity, reduced revenue, and high staff turnover including your most valued employees. If you think your business is suffering from this malaise, you're not alone. The Gallup Organization estimates that there are 22 million actively disengaged employees costing the economy as much as $350 billion dollars per year in lost productivity including absenteeism, illness, and other low morale issues.

11 Employee Morale Boosters

Morale boosters can take the form of recognition, compensation, special perks, or simply terminating employees who are "resisters," capable of infecting others. Here are 11 low-cost, easy to implement morale boosters:

  1. Welcome Ideas: Employee morale improves when a staff member feels that they are valued. Solicit, share, and implement their suggestions and innovative ideas.
  2. Recognize and Reward Achievement: Visibly let employees know when they have exceeded your expectations. Consider putting something extra in their paycheck that week. 
  3. Help Them Succeed: Let employees know the company's goal, how it is measured, and what each employee's role is in reaching that goal. Give employees the training and tools they need to succeed in this area.  
  4. Thank You Notes: Send a special thank you note (hard copy or by email) to a staff member who excelled at a task or project praise them for their good work and effort.
  5. Huddle: Have a daily morning huddle to highlight tasks for the day and to cheer yesterday’s wins.
  6. Open Up: Provide an open forum or one-on-one time to allow employees to express their concerns which may be well-founded or ill-perceived.
  7. Have Fun: Special events and outside work activities can take the pressure off the day-to-day grind in the office.
  8. Show Charity: Get your staff involved in a bigger cause to help them see there is more to life than work. This also creates a unique bonding opportunity for you and your staff.
  9. Add Perks: Use low-cost perks such as a Foosball table in the lunchroom.
  10. Let Resisters Go: Sometimes the root cause of low employee morale is just one rotten apple whose negativity brings down the entire group. Give them fair warning to change their attitude and then if they don't get on board (even if they're a top performer), let them go. 
  11. Measure It: Keep close tabs on the levels of morale in your business by regularly measuring employee satisfaction.

The backbone of business success resides in the productivity and output of your employees. Those companies who remain vigilant to the signs of low morale and who focus on improving morale can ward off the impact of a low morale workplace.