January 7, 2010
How to boost employee morale this year
You probably saw The Conference Board report this week that 55 percent of Americans are unhappy at their job, the highest number since the organization began conducting its annual job satisfaction survey two decades ago.
In the past, I've offered tips for winning over your boss. But how about winning over your staff?
Business experts agree that companies had better work harder at improving their employees' battered morale, unless they want to deal with a mass exodus of talent when the job market improves.
"Employers need to view the overwhelming shadow of unhappiness as a wake-up call," says Joyce Gioia, a management consultant and CEO of Employers of Choice, a certification program that recognizes the nation's most respected employers.
Gioia offers managers these low-cost suggestions for boosting employee morale:
Offer creative rewards to those who meet predetermined goals. Even better if said rewards involve you serving your staff in some way or allowing yourself to look foolish. For instance, you could cook your team breakfast, clean their offices, or wash their cars. Or you could show up to work in your pajamas or with a shaved head.
Allow employees to weigh in on non-monetary rewards. You may think employees appreciate an afternoon potluck to celebrate making a product launch date or nabbing a lucrative new government contract. But maybe they're so buried under their workload that the last thing they want is to whip up a side dish and spend an hour making small talk in the conference room. Maybe they'd rather just take off a couple hours early on a Friday afternoon or show up to work in their jeans for a day. Rather than you naming the reward, Gioia says, let your staff make suggestions and vote on the idea they like best.
Solicit ideas from your people and listen intently. Don't just pay lip service to welcoming employee input on your organization's business practices, Gioia says. Set up a system -- for example, an internal Web site or quarterly team meetings -- where employees can voice their suggestions. To quell fears staff may have about speaking their mind, let them know that no idea is too brazen or outlandish.
Conduct "stay interviews" with current employees. You've heard of exit interviews. Instead of waiting until you've lost a valuable staff member, Gioia suggests meeting with existing employees one-on-one annually to see how they feel about the company and their job. Have supervisors or HR staff conduct the interviews. And be sure to let people know that nothing they say will jeopardize their position or standing with the company.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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