If you own or manage a company, you’ll quickly become aware of the impact morale has on productivity. Sometimes your employees may surprise you with how well they perform, but–only too often– they may seem utterly unmotivated to do a better job.
Since morale appears to be something of an abstract concept and the reasons why people perform or underperform at their jobs is often unclear, it’s easy to feel somewhat helpless when it comes to raising morale. What’s more, dips and surges in morale can be especially difficult to track when you’re working with a virtual workforce.
Since it’s difficult to predict morale, you’re never quite sure how well a new project you’re promising a client will go. On one hand, you know that your staff is fully capable of getting the job done quickly and well. On the other hand, you’ve often had to apologize to clients about why their project was less than stellar.
You aren’t alone when you feel that morale is something fickle that you have little control over. It’s easy to reconcile yourself to the fact that people are complex and it’s hard to get them to always do great work. But the good news is that boosting morale and sustaining it may be easier than you think.
Five effective ways of boosting morale are by hosting an awards night, catching people doing things right, offering spiffs, throwing company picnics, and using gamification.
1. Host an awards night.
An awards night once a year can provide your employees with a rich, varied experience of your company because they suddenly find themselves treated like guests at a themed event designed just for them. Interestingly enough, handing out stylish acrylic awards to best performers not only motivates the recipient but vicariously motivates the audience, too. Research some event night themes to make your awards night event a memorable occasion.
2. Catch people doing things right.
Ken Blanchard, the well-known author of bestselling management books, is a firm believer in developing employees in an organization by asking managers to wander around and catch people doing things right.
Although it’s a powerful management principle to praise people at the right time for doing the right work, this concept is often not used at all. Instead, the reverse often happens to be the case—finding people doing the wrong things and reprimanding them.
3. Offer spiffs for individual sales.
While, of course, everyone is familiar with the benefits of promotions and pay raises, only a few companies understand the power of smaller financial incentives to keep employees motivated. A spiff is an immediate bonus for a special type of sale. Despite the fact that spiffs usually focus on small amounts, the immediacy of the reward has a surprisingly positive psychological effect.
Spiffs are easy to set up. For instance, a department store may give the employee $3 every time they persuade a customer to open up a department credit card. It can be set up so that employees can turn in a punch card at the end of the week to get rewarded for fulfilling their quota of promoting 7 credit card sales a week.
4. Throw company summer picnics.
Although numerous people may work in the same building, most people in a company only interact with their colleagues in the same department. Often, too, they are too busy to develop more than a perfunctory relationship.
A company summer picnic allows people who know each other to develop deeper friendships and to mingle with people from other departments. An informal connection between employees in a relaxed, playful setting will boost morale throughout your company.
5. Use gamification to make work more interesting.
Gamification is the use of game elements like point scoring, friendly competition, and rules to keep people engaged in achieving a goal. Gamification is especially useful in jobs where tedious work often needs to get done. It can transform something routine into something fun.
In conclusion, the shocking truth about morale is that it’s not as abstract as you think, and you can do a great deal about it. So, don’t make the mistake of underestimating the impact of morale on productivity and profits. It is important in the workplace—even if you run a virtual office.