Friday, October 2, 2009

IMPROVING EMPLOYEE MORALE

Improving employee morale has over the years been one of the major challenges of employers and management of firms. When the morale of employees is high, productivity and attitude to work improves, but if their morale is low, the reverse becomes the case.


There has been a lot written in the past about how to improve the morale of people in the workplace. It involves making people feel valued for their contributions, being there to listen to them, and making sure that they get the support they need to carry out their duties.

However, sometimes what is overlooked is that low staff morale is often a build- up of lots of little issues that, as they accumulate, cause morale to drop because they have been ignored in the past. It may be as a result of the way approvals are delayed, no water always in the dispenser; employee contributions are not considered or valued, etc.

Working on the morale of staff is the duty of everybody who has a supervisory role – from the Team Leaders to the CEO. Part of their role is to watch and listen.

In these hard times, your staff morale is of paramount importance. They're worried about their jobs and making ends meet, having low morale on the job will compound their woes. The truth is that as you make the effort to boost staff morale, you'll be increasing productivity, lowering employee absenteeism as well as constant employee turnover.

Having seen the background that employees moral need to be worked on to get the best out of the employees. How then do we achieve this?

• Free Communication: Open communication should be encouraged. Employees feel cheated or demoralized when there is a gap between them and management. Employees want to be heard and contribute their own quota to the growth of the firm. It is also important to have regular meetings between management and members of staff which gives management the opportunity to discuss any new developments that may affect the workers but, more crucially, allows workers to express any opinions or problems that they might have with the work and how it is done. There may be regular monthly or quarterly meetings where staff and Management meet to listen to each other. The Management should also encourage an open door policy to enable staff have access to Management at will.

• Training: Every worker or employee wants to add value to himself while he s adding value to the company. Most employees complain of putting in their best but without commensurate reward to their efforts. Aside from paying an employee well, sponsoring an employee on useful trainings and courses related to his job is always a morale booster as it makes the staff believe that the company has his interest at heart. By offering training, they not only feel more valued but it also allows them to increase their skill base in the hope that they can achieve career progression, hopefully within the same company. This practice makes long-term staff retention far easier.

• Fairness: As a manager, supervisor, team leader, CEO Etc you need to be fair in your judgments. Most employees feel demoralized when they notice that some staff are treated better than others. In most cases these preferential treatments are not as a result of hard work or productivity. Always base your reward on merit and productivity because if you do otherwise you will be killing the morale of the hardworking and dedicated ones.

• Consider employee life outside the work environment: Most employers forget that their workers are people first before becoming their staff. This fact means that they have an existence before becoming an employee. There is need to balance both at all times otherwise the staff morale is affected negatively. The workforce will have other commitments, priorities, issues and problems to overcome outside of work as well as in the work place. Employers should always try to manage this with an attitude to make the employee know that their personal lives are considered.

• Recognition Schemes: It is always good to recognize and appreciate employees who are exceptional on their jobs. A simple well-done letter from the CEO of a company or Head of department to an employee can be a morale booster to the employee as well as his colleagues. This is always good for the employee’s ego, it also allows his peers to acknowledge his achievements too and this also creates an environment in which others can aspire to achieve recognition as well.

• Build in a Participative Management style: Workers often feel better when their input is requested in the workplace especially from their supervisors. Suggestion schemes should be encouraged. This enables the employee to come up with his own ideas that might improve the way in which the company does something which the management or departmental heads might have overlooked. Staff morale is always high when they feel important in their workplace. Workers feel bad when they are used just as tools to get job done. They want to be part of the decision making and want to share in the joy that we did it together.

• Employee Welfare: Employees needs should be taken care of. Most workers jump from one company to other seeking for better employee welfare packages. It is not always all about salary, employees feel valued and happy when the employer has their interest at heart. There are a lot of statutory employee welfare packages that most employers fail to provide for their staff. This in most cases account for the cause of over 80% employee turnover noticed in some companies. Things like staff medicals; pension, Life/Accident Insurance, Leave, housing, paid holidays etc should be extended to employees and made part of the company’s policy which should also be captured in the employee handbook.

• Monetary Rewards: Every employee is working to make money to take care of his/her immediate needs. Believe it or leave it, that’s the simple truth. In as much as monetary gains and incentives improve employee morale, balancing work and personal opportunities for career progression etc will often far outweigh the monetary gain. Especially for professions such has sales; employers rely mostly on financial incentives to motivate the sales force. Most companies have a policy of paying what is called the 13th month salary to all employees of the company. This money is always paid at the end of every year and that amounts to paying each staff double of his salary at the end of every year. You find out that staff working in such companies will always work hard to make sure that the company has money to pay this 13th month salary every year. That for sure is a morale booster.

• Promotion: Employees who are performing on their jobs should be encouraged through promotion to the next level in their department career path. Promotion for sure is a morale booster. On the other hand when an employee is putting in his best, adding value to the firm and still stays in his present position for a long time, demoralization sets in. The truth is that if a staff is demoralized, he will be adding little or no value to the company.

• Interact with Employees: Finally one of the best ways to boost staff morale as an employer, supervisor or head of department is to speak to the staff first. Feedback got from them will usually expose the kind of incentives you might consider to boost staff moral, increase motivation as well as increase general productivity.

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