6 Ways to Improve Employee Morale

Employee morale is a struggle everywhere right now. Inflation is high. Wages can’t keep up and still allow businesses to stay in business. Everyone feels like they’re running as fast as they can on their hamster wheel, but no one seems to be making forward movement. 

Obviously, as a small business owner you want to be a place employees enjoy working. You want to reward them for their efforts and keep them engaged. You want to avoid dreaded turnover. You want to attract quality people who will contribute to your growth.

What’s a company to do? 

How to Improve Employee Morale

In a perfect world we could just give all of our employees a 15% raise, reduce their working hours, and allow them super flexible schedules. 

Unfortunately, our world is not perfect and we have bottom lines we need to maintain in order to pay our own bills. It simply is not in the cards for many companies to increase their payroll expenses by 20% per person

However, study after study has shown that people tolerate and even enjoy lower paying or more demanding jobs when they like the company culture. People quit high paying jobs that make them miserable all the time. So if the numbers don’t make sense to give everyone a fat raise, here’s what you can do to make yourself stand out as an employer with an amazing culture. 

Diagram showing 5 of the 6 ways to improve employee morale through positive company culture

Company Culture Ideas to Improve Employee Morale

Flexible Work Arrangements

This is something one of our employees has dubbed a ‘non-salary benefit.’ Offering flexibility in working hours (say, while their kids are at school so they don’t have to pay for daycare), or work from home/hybrid arrangements. If someone has a mid-day obligation, it can be extremely helpful to employees to be allowed to ‘make up’ the missed hours at the end of the day. Flexibility in your employees’ working arrangements shows trust and respect for your employees and improves overall job satisfaction.

Employee Recognition Programs

Implement a system where employees can nominate and recognize their coworkers for their achievements and contributions. Prizes don’t have to be huge – a simple drink or gift certificate can do. The important thing here is that employees want to be acknowledged for their hard work. Recognizing them for their achievements or contributions lends to job satisfaction and overall morale – no one wants to feel unappreciated or taken for granted. 

Social Events

Organize social events outside of work. Do not – we repeat – do not make these mandatory or present them in a way that feels like a chore. Holiday parties, team outings (see a previous post about drink runs!), or casual happy hour gatherings are a great start. These are low-pressure gatherings for your people to talk about things that don’t include work, bond, and build relationships. 

Employees who enjoy their coworkers and have friends at work are less inclined to look for opportunities elsewhere. Employees who do not connect with their colleagues tend to be more motivated to look for a job where they can find friends. No one wants to spend 8+ hours a day with people they don’t like or connect with.

the components to creating a positive company culture and improve employee morale.

Celebrate Milestones and Achievements

Recognize and celebrate milestones – for both individuals and teams. This could include work anniversaries, project completions, or hitting significant targets. When business is doing well, be sure to thank your team for their help rather than take sole credit for it. As with the rest of the items on this list, the rewards or prizes don’t have to be significant. However, employees want to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Recognition for their part in completed projects or met goals falls into that. 

Plus, a quick ‘thank you’ for hitting an anniversary helps, too! Many employees don’t stick around for 1 year, let alone 3+. Recognizing their tenacity and sticking it out, especially if things have been rocky, lets them know you appreciate them and improves their morale. 

Professional Development Opportunities

Provide opportunities for employees to enhance their skills through training programs, workshops, conferences, etc. Even a quick Udemy course (paid for by you) to expand their knowledge lets them know you’re investing in them. Most employees enjoy being an expert in their field, and by allowing them room to grow they can become one. It’s also a great way to boost their resume, and become more primed for growth – bonus points if that growth is within your company. 

Be a Good Boss

Ah, last, but certainly not least. You can be a good boss without being an absolute pushover. Being understanding of emergencies and sickness without laying on a guilt trip goes a long way toward breeding employee trust. 

Creating an environment where employees feel able to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns makes employees feel heard and valued. Especially when they have frustrations or negative feedback, being able to express those feelings creates a great company culture. Especially if they’re able to do it without fear of retaliation and you’re able to come to a solution together. 

We read once that people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. We know we have certainly quit a job we otherwise liked because of our boss. If you are a boss that people love working for, they will happily stick around, even if you can’t afford to give them the kinds of raises you’d like to.

The Bottom Line

By improving company culture and having sky-high employee morale, you can reduce turnover, increase productivity, and develop your employees into the dream team! These tips are especially vital in a world that’s becoming increasingly expensive and employees are searching for a career that allows them to pay their bills and encourage work-life balance. Let us know what you think in the comments, or reach out and give us your thoughts! 

book a call