When you’re trying to create a productive and cooperative workplace, improving employee morale is key. When employees are happy, they’ll want to stay with the company, be more productive, and offer ideas worthy of PhDs, which can help improve the business even more. Perks are a great way to do this, but unfortunately not every company has enough money to organize exotic employee picnics or offer huge benefits. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a healthy work atmosphere. Here are several cheap ways that you can improve morale without breaking your budget:
1. Managerial Encouragement
If employees only hear from their managers when mistakes are made, it discourages morale. Managers need to stay updated on employee accomplishments, and develop ways to encourage and reward these achievements. For example, managers could leave handwritten notes at an employee’s desk acknowledging a job well done, stop by the employee’s desk to offer a handshake for congratulations, or offer sweets to employees who come into her office. Employees who feel appreciated will want to work harder.
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A monthly employee newsletter would also give the company a chance to recognize outstanding employees on a wider scale. Newsletters also keep the staff updated on company news, which keeps the staff involved in the company’s progress. Be careful not to send these too often, though, as that will devalue the honor of getting a mention, and might even devolve into an annoyance.
2. Employee Lunches
A monthly employee lunch offers an inexpensive event that the staff can look forward to all month long. Order a pizza for the staff or have a small lunch catered in the company break room. It does not need to be anything elaborate to be effective, and often buying food in bulk is actually quite cheap. You can further increase the appeal of the event by posting signs around the office to remind employees of the upcoming lunch date. Add things like an “Employee of the Month” ceremony, or a competition to win face time with the boss, so the lunch has a central event to feature.
These kinds of events act as company-sponsored social gatherings, which work on many levels to improve teamwork, help coworkers get to know each other, and enhance the employee-management relationship.
3. Suggestion Box
The employee suggestion box is another effective tool, if it is used properly. Put the suggestion box in a prominent part of the company break room so that every employee can see it. Have suggestion slips near the box that people can use to submit ideas. You should allow anonymity, but encourage employees to take credit for constructive suggestions that may be used by the company in the future.
Let the employees see you empty out the suggestion box every couple weeks to let them know that you do read the suggestions. Act on at least one employee suggestion each month, and give credit to the employee if you know whose it was. When employees see their suggestions in action, it gives them an emotional stake in the company and a sense of pride about the company’s accomplishments.
4. Peer Recognition
When the company creates a system that allows employees to recognize each others’ accomplishments, it encourages teamwork. Set up a system where an employee can fill out a card that acknowledges a co-worker for an exceptional job, and have that card delivered to the honored employee by the departmental manager. You might also consider offering a small token, like a candy bar, along with the card, and have each card recipient given acknowledgement in the employee newsletter. Let your employees have a say in boosting morale and promoting respect in the workplace.
5. President’s Team
A great way to reward the proactive thinkers on your staff without spending any extra money is to create a committee called the “President’s Team.” This is a collection of people that help you to work through company issues and create special projects.
To avoid problems with favoritism, you should appoint a completely new “President’s Team” each month. You can also choose to give team members a special printed certificate to commemorate their achievement. It gives staff members another form of recognition, and it helps you get to know your employees on a more personal level while they’re serving on your team.
Low morale costs your company money in decreased production and employee turnover. Developing an atmosphere of teamwork and pride in company achievements will help to raise morale. But you don’t have to spend a ton of money to raise spirits—a little appreciation goes a long way.
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