Does your team seem unmotivated? Downtrodden? Defeatist? Disengaged?
Step back and think about your workplace culture for a minute. People are craving for recognition, appreciation, and affirmation. When they receive it, morale is often boosted, productivity is increased, and workplace culture is energized. Recognition is the motivational tool to provide the extra boost.
Consider the professional scenarios you’ve been involved with throughout the years—when did you feel most valued, respected, and appreciated? What were the conditions affecting this arrangement? What factors motivated your behavior, and who else was involved? What happened?
Marcus Erb highlights 7 Ways to Boost Employee Morale in an article for Entrepreneur. His suggestions range from “job” definition to celebration of successes to fostering positive attitudes to just plain having fun.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Not so fast…A few words of caution.
Now think about a time when you felt unmotivated, disrespected, and under-valued. What circumstances led to this scenario? How was your behavior affected, and who else was involved? What happened?
Research shows that the following tensions can lead to unmotivated, under-valued employees whose work is stifled and unfulfilling.
If you set up your reward and recognition systems in such a way that promotes excessive competition and manipulation among those vying for the “prize,” you might be contributing to experiences of alienation and discouragement rather than alleviating them. Make sure your system of recognition does not favor particular traits more than others when actually each are equally deserving of acclaim. You want to emphasize a mutually respectful company culture—not a toxic workplace. See What You Must Know About Confidence for additional insights about recognizing unique talents.
Another word of caution: remain authentic in your communications (more on authentic communication next month!). Competition for “attention and appreciation” is one of the contributing factors to low morale affecting workplace politics, according to Susan Heathfield, whose Simple Ideas for Improving Employee Morale in Your Workplace appears in The Balance. She emphasizes the importance of making sure employees share a vision for the company, utilizing clear communication of expectations, and “feedback and coaching” as contributors to morale boosts.
Just remember that what’s “fun” for some employees might just cause additional stress, distraction, or annoyance to others. While many members of your team might be thrilled with a video game room for “game days”—others might prefer to spend that “free time” away from the office working on their own projects or volunteering—so keep your creative options…optional.
Contributing to positive employee morale needn’t be an overwhelming challenge in which employers and team leaders feel like they have to bend over backward to make sure everybody’s happy all the time—but an awareness of the overall environment and what could be done to pick things up a little might go a long way.
The good news is that company culture can be turned around!