Here’s the definition of employee morale on Wikipedia:
“Employee morale, in human resources, is defined as the job satisfaction, outlook, and feelings of well-being an employee has within a workplace setting. Proven to have a direct effect on productivity, it is one of the corner stones of business.”
I look at employee morale as how happy employees are and how that happiness leads to better productivity and a better company culture over time. It’s no coincidence that the best companies in the world have the highest levels of employee morale. They are fanatical about tracking it and improving it over time.
The science behind employee morale and its impact on the success of any organization has been proven time and time again. In fact, I was recently reading a great post on employee happiness on the First Round blog and wanted to share my favorite snippet:
“Happier people are more successful, more creative, energetic, resilient,” says Crabtree. “They work better together. They absorb more information. They have more tools in their tool belt to help them handle whatever life throws them. They are healthier, they live longer — and they show up at work more often.”
So if it’s already been proven that high employee morale creates better companies and indeed better cultures, what you can do to improve the morale of the employees in your company?
I’ve put together six simple things you can do, based not just on my experience but also based on what the best companies in the world have done (think Google, GE, Virgin, etc).
Ask For (And Act-On) Employee Feedback
When Marissa Mayer went to work at Yahoo as their new CEO back in 2012, do you know the first thing she did? She had her team build a system called PB&J, which allowed employees to submit and vote on ideas to improve the company – everything from gym opening hours to providing more laptop charging docks and different kinds of meeting rooms across the Yahoo campus.
In the first year, she implemented 1,000 – yes ONE THOUSAND – ideas and as a result doubled Yahoo’s stock price, but most importantly removed blockers and started attracting the best and brightest engineers, which Yahoo hadn’t been able to do for some time.
If you’re not currently asking your employees for feedback, now is a great time to start. And you can keep it simple too. Ask questions like:
- How likely are you to recommend our company as a place to work?
- Do you see yourself working here in 12 months from now?
- What’s one thing you think I can do better as your manager?
- If you could wave a magic wand, how would you improve our company?
Do Skip Level One-On-Ones
The number one reason employees leave a job isn’t pay – it’s their manager. As your company grows, don’t just meet with your direct reports. Do skip level one-on-ones, which means you meet with your team’s team. You want to keep your ear close to the ground to listen for rumblings about managers that your employees don’t like to work for.
Make Sure Your Employees Know Your Company’s Core Values
Core values aren’t just a bunch of words you stick up around the office. They should represent everything that makes your organization great and everyone should know what they are but most importantly why they exist and how they drive everything they do.
What’s the best way to make sure everyone understands your core values? Start by sharing and discussing one of your core values every time you get your company together, such as at your next all-hands meeting.
Talk about how the core value came to be, why it’s important and also show your team how they can best embody and live that core value every day. Do this enough times and you’ll be amazed at how your core values start to take on a life of their own inside your organization.
Show Your Employees The “Yellow Brick Road”
You might be surprised to know that most of your employees have no idea where your organization is going over the next few years.
If you can paint the picture of your vision and connect that to their day-to-day role and show them how they play a part in your organization’s success, they will come in to work every day knowing the exact impact they’re making and will be clear on how the little decisions they make dozens of times a day have a good or bad impact on results.
Share The Good And The Bad
Too many leaders only share the good or the bad of an organization. Be real and share both. When things are going well, celebrate and reward your team and make sure they understand how they contributed to your success. Conversely, when things aren’t going so well, share that too.
Explain why and share your plan to get things back on track so your employees can buy-in and feel optimistic about the future.
Encourage And Enable Employee Wellness
Employees who eat well, exercise and look after themselves are more productive and have better moods. They spend so much time in the office, so why not help them be the best they can be?
If you have a kitchen, stock it with healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, water, and salads not just sodas and candy. If you can afford to offer free or discounted gym memberships or even bring in a yoga teacher once a week, sure it might cost a few bucks but you’ll make that back 10x with better morale and productivity.
So there you have it. Six smart but simple things you can do to dramatically boost employee morale in your organization. Sure, you might not do all of these at once, but if you commit to one a quarter over the next six quarter’s I promise you’ll be absolutely astonished at the impact it will have on your people.