Keeping staff morale up is a frequently overlooked aspect of the business owner or manager’s role. The mental well-being and general happiness of your employees are important contributing factors to the general success of your business; unhappy employees are unlikely to be productive employees, and this will have a knock-on effect on your firm’s prospects.
Job satisfaction is at a record low. A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has shown that employee morale is being hit by the twin pressures of cost-saving measures and job insecurity. As many as a third of those questioned said they would like to move jobs, but are worried that they would not be able to secure another position.
Unhappy workers are bad for your business. As a business owner you must find ways to raise and maintain staff morale, in order to ensure a happy and productive workforce.
Communication is key
A key problem in many organisations is the perception of a disconnect between management and staff lower down the chain. If you are to keep your employees happy, it is vital that you listen to their concerns and ideas – and, where possible, act upon them.
In many cases, simply feeling that they are being listened to will be enough to improve your employees’ morale. The ways in which you achieve this will depend on the nature of your organisation; in a small firm with few employees the answer might be as simple as a regular meeting between you and your staff. If you employ a larger number, you should ensure that each line manager is personally available to the staff working immediately below them. You should consider then taking meetings with those managers in order that concerns are passed on.
A company Intranet can be a great way to keep the lines of communication open and it can be used to incorporate social aspects of business too. If you can’t afford to create an Intranet you could try a social networking tool such as Yammer.com and encourage employees to take part.
While it can often be difficult to arrange employee leave and to work around unexpected sick days, you should attempt to be as flexible as possible when negotiating with your workforce.
This is particularly true when it comes to parents with young children. All of your employees will have personal and family concerns that may occasionally take precedence over their work, and you should be prepared to accede to reasonable requests made for extra time off or flexible working.
It is also important to remember that you have a legal obligation to properly consider flexible working patterns for most parents with children under the age of 16, or disabled children under the age of 18. Try to take the initiative and make an offer of these arrangements before being asked by your employee. This will help to put you on a firm footing when it comes to negotiation.
Benefits and incentives
Employee benefits are an increasingly important part of a compensation package. As growth in headline salaries has stalled, many firms are using additional benefits as a way of attracting talent and maintaining staff morale.
The scale of your benefits package will likely depend on the size of your firm. Do not presume that you have to operate a company car scheme or build a gym in your offices. Instead, concentrate on personalised incentives that raise staff morale while encouraging good teamwork. Staff events, paid for by the company, are a great way of making your employees feel valued and simultaneously helping to forge relationships within your workforce. Consider things like bowling or a simple meal out as a way of solidifying your team.
Quick, cheap fixes
You need not spend a vast sum of money improving your staff morale. In many cases, quick fixes for niggling problems will have a far greater impact than occasional grand gestures.
For example, do your employees have access to basic kitchen facilities? Are the staff toilets clean and in good working order? Are your computer systems running reliably? It is often possible to quickly fix many of the day-to-day gripes that bother your employees. Listen to what your employees are saying about their workplace and concentrate on these first.
It is important, though, that you do not become a maintenance worker. Your time is better spent running your business, not fixing office furniture. As a result you may wish to consider hiring an extra member of staff, even for just a couple of days a month, to deal with these issues, or to delegate responsibility for staff issues to one of your existing employees.
The importance of staff morale should not be underestimated. In order to maximise your firm’s productivity you must foster job satisfaction among your employees. Consider cost effective ways that you can achieve this in your firm – but beware false economies. Often, refusing to spend money now will result in problems later, either through an inefficient workforce or high staff turnover.