Boosting Morale in a Down Economy

Human energy is the fuel of business. So what if everyone around you is dragging? Current economic pressures can make anyone depressed, and the effect is reverberating throughout the hallways of corporate America.

In recent HR related studies, the biggest category cost cutting category is in the area of team building and morale. Yet it’s never been more imperative for managers to retain the best and brightest employees to tough out the economy.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow talked about the hierarchy of needs, which suggested that humans are motivated as their needs are fulfilled in areas like safety, security, belonging, and esteem. You can easily improve the workplace environment by thinking about what each person in the company needs. And fulfilling those needs doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.

Tips for morale boosting in a sluggish economy:

• Heartfelt praise and recognition is priceless, especially when given in front of others.

• Get input from staff by reframing challenges into opportunities and encouraging employee suggestions so they become an invested part of the solution.

• Build in “fun time” and start by soliciting your own people to find out what activities or ideas they have that are cost effective, but worth the effort.

• Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more with everyone to ensure that roles, goals, and expectations are clear. Do it often and not always at expected times.

• Reward employees at low or no cost. Consider small gift cards to a local coffee shop, two movie tickets, grocery store certificates at the holidays, pizza party during lunch, ice cream social in the afternoon, a themed potluck, casual dress day

• An active employee recognition program is easy to set up and can cost the company nothing. For example, acknowledge a job well-done in monthly staff meetings. Or create a Super Star board where employees can post a description of the outstanding work of their co-workers.

• Mind your “P’s and Q’s” by saying please and thank you often. Stop by your co-workers’ desks to say thank you for something they have done recently, whether it was a great job on a project or pitching in to meet a deadline.

• An employee mentoring program can provide effective motivation and increase leadership skills. Pair employees with managers. They can meet regularly to share ideas or collaborate on a project.

• A walk in the park, even if for a half hour, can mean a lot. Everyone enjoys time away from the office. Offer employees the chance to leave early on a Friday afternoon if a major success has been achieved.

Morale boosting and employee motivation do not cost a lot of money. Consistency, clarity, and creativity will go a long way. In my next blog, I’ll talk about some pitfalls in employee motivation. In the meantime, stick with these positives, and you can’t go wrong!