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Boosting Employee Morale Increases Productivity

by Neal B. Burgis, Ph.D.

The question asked by executives and managers - "How can I motivate my employees?" – is sometimes difficult to answer. Since each employee is motivated by a variety of different incentives, you need to find out what is of value for each person. Research shows that people often leave an employer because they haven't received the recognition they want, or feedback on how they are doing. With this in mind, designing a positive, employee-driven motivation program works with some of your employees, but then what do you do for the others?

Leaders continue to look for ways to boost morale. Many organizations feel that if you want innovative and unique ways to boost your employees' morale, just ask them. Of course, employees may not want to tell employers face-to-face what they want and what they are thinking. So the employer can conduct an anonymous "morale audit," giving employees a survey to fill out. This is only one method.

Since many employers don't have the time to write the specific questions and survey their employees, don't know what specific questions to ask, or don't want to take the time to write, conduct, and evaluate a survey, here are seven ways I believe you can more easily boost your employees' morale:

  1. Get Your Employees Involved: Typically, your employees want to get involved in their jobs and be part of the success and progress of the company for which they work. Asking your employees to set their own job goals, as well as having them suggest more efficient ways to do their jobs, is an excellent way to find out how they can manage their own jobs.

    With this in mind, you may want to consider forming an Employee Advisory Group within your organization. This group would include both employees and managers, and also someone from the executive staff to oversee and report back to the company executives. This is where employees can express their thoughts and feelings, and also talk about ideas of the work they do and how to better and more efficiently get things done. Through this group, employees can feel that they are making a contribution to the company decisions, especially when they see their suggestions implemented by the company.

  2. Communication: Effective employee communication can have a positive impact with pride affecting the company's productivity. Make sure your employees are included in all communications, especially in policy decisions and any changes taking place.

    Also, any communication that takes place with your employees requires that you listen to them. If your employees feel that they are not being listened to, negative effects will result and will impact on productivity. Listening to your employees shows that you have an interest in them.

  3. Job Satisfaction: According to The Wall Street Journal - Career Journal.com (July 13, 2005), nearly eight of ten employees are satisfied with their jobs. Beyond achievements and getting recognition for accomplishments, three factors that contribute to employee longevity are:

    1. being challenged in the work they are given,

    2. given increased responsibilities for the work they do, and

    3. getting training in new skills to help them complete their tasks more efficiently and give them room for promotion.

    Satisfaction on the job is just as important as getting the recognition for completing the tasks assigned. Otherwise, boredom sets in and your employees will do the minimal effort just to get by. Allow your employees to get creative in how they complete the work. You will find that this will also help on a company-wide basis.

  4. Tools to Get the Job Done: In order to get work done, and done right, you as the leader need to give your employees the skills and tools for them to complete their tasks. This includes giving them the support and the training they need. Then your employees will stay motivated.

  5. Independency/Empowerment: Sometimes knowing when to step back and let your employees do their work is what they need. Employees want to feel that they are trusted to get their work done. They do not need to be micromanaged in everything they do. As a leader, when you delegate or assign a task to your employees, tell them what your expectations are and them let them do the work. You will find that your employees will take pride in their work when they are allowed to make some decisions on their own. They feel that they own it, especially if the decision of how to best do their job is from them.

  6. Rewards: Your employees need to be motivated to do a great job. For this to be consistent, give your employees praise and appreciation. This should be done in front of others. Whether you give a personalized written note, a positive compliment, or other type of incentive, you need to give these to all employees to keep their motivation going. At your company staff meetings, your employees can be given the chance through a company drawing for a prize such as gift certificates to a local store or even an "Employee of the Month" special parking space. If you have weekly meetings, do this type of reward once a month. If you do not have staff meetings, consider implementing them as a way of communicating (see point #2).

    For some employees, depending on the events that take place, the incentive of giving a bonus or even a promotion is a significant boost. People like to see their name in print, so put the employee's significant contributions in the company newsletter with their name and their picture. This typically makes people feel really good about themselves. Over the years, it has been found that employees sometimes would prefer something different. Some employers have given gift cards to the grocery store, bookstore, or even for the employee to relax going out to a restaurant or to a movie.

    Make sure all of your employees are valued and recognized for the contributions they make to your company. Remember, not all employees respond to the same incentives as others. Some companies have a company softball, baseball, or bowling team. These things boost morale for many employees. Having a consistent employee rewards program in place is a good way to retain employees. Your company's reputation also does not hurt.

  7. Care About Your People: Beyond the point of assigning work tasks and providing the tools needed to complete the tasks, leaders need to look at further educating and training their talented employees. If your employees believe that their boss does not care about either the task or them, then they will not care either. The company then suffers for that.

There are some companies who have built their reputations as companies where people want to work. This is translated into "employers of choice." Leaders knowing about motivation are able to be more effective in meeting their organizational goals through delegating and knowing that the work will get done by their employees. High employee morale increases productivity, as well as reduces employee turnover rates, decreases employee complaints, and improves job satisfaction. Company leaders need to provide the leadership to create and maintain the morale of your organization. Your impact as an executive or manager is immeasurable when it comes to motivating your employees.

In implementing these specific keys to your company's benefits, you will find a significant positive impact throughout your organization. These benefits to the organization include a more creative work environment for productivity to increase, which will result in higher employee performance, and an increase in employee retention. On top of this, you will find that for your employees to be satisfied in their work, they will have better internal and external relationships with customers, as well as company profits would increase all at the same time. The more of these keys you implement, the greater the organizational reward because you will find motivational incentives for a greater number of employees.

Building morale in your organization is not as hard as you might think. The key to motivating your employees is having them feel valued and appreciated by their boss and within the company.

Copyright © Neal B. Burgis

About the Author

Neal Burgis, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Burgis Successful Solutions, an executive coaching firm. Neal has 18 years of experience helping people with their goals and performance. He specializes in executive coaching on work balance issues of performance, leadership development, and improving skills, as well as being a sounding board. Dr. Burgis is a National Certified Psychologist and a Certified Executive Coach.

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