The recent recession reminded employers just how much staff morale matters. When Robert Half asked Chief Financial Officers in a recent survey to cite the greatest lessons they learned during the downturn, "Place greater focus on maintaining employee morale" was the top response. Following are some key tips for keeping morale high amongst your staff:
Don't hoard information. Share information with your employees on a continuous basis not just at regularly scheduled staff meetings. Tell your team as much as you can, as soon as you can. For example, if a key departmental position has finally been filled, let your staff know right away before they hear whispers through the gossip grapevine. Keeping your team in the loop with real-time business information builds trust, increases employee engagement and boosts motivation on a day-to-day basis.
Monitor the mood of the office. You can't fix a morale problem if you don't know about it. Maintain an open-door policy and make it clear that employees are always welcome to raise concerns and ask questions. But remember that for every team member who comes to you, there are a number of less-vocal people who have issues they'd also like to address but don't express them. Be proactive by frequently strolling through the workplace and checking in with individual employees, asking how current projects are going. Also take note of more subtle clues. Do you see smiles and frequently hear laughter or is everyone working in grim silence?
Watch for conflict and burnout. Address friction fast. Discord among employees may seem less significant than other big picture business concerns, but morale, productivity and job satisfaction levels suffer when staff members consistently have trouble working together. Also, pay particular attention to the needs and workloads of your most productive employees. Are they receiving the support they need from others on the team? Or, are they doing most of the heavy lifting and bearing the brunt of the pressure? If so, redistribute some assignments and consider bringing in interim contractors for one-time projects or to help out during especially busy times.
Be aware of employee aspirations. Even if you're not in a position right now to make binding commitments regarding raises or promotions, talk to employees about their career paths. Are they interested in taking on different responsibilities? What types of training or educational opportunities would they like to pursue? Talk with staff on a one-on-one basis and stay attuned to their professional goals. If you can't deliver everything on their wish lists at the moment, give assurances that you'll look for ways to make their roles more rewarding as the business outlook improves.
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