Times have certainly changed from the days of working for a company for 30 or more years with a sense of job security, culminating in collecting a pension at retirement.
We are now a much more mobile society in a downsizing era. It’s not uncommon to move from job to job over the course of our careers due to restructuring, a change in interests or starting one’s own company.
A huge piece of the corporate puzzle for productivity and retention revolves around employee morale. Do you have a staff that’s singing the blues? Poor morale can lead to employees expending less effort, decreased productivity, poor attitudes and a greater possibility of leaving the company. When team members need to be replaced, there is a great financial impact on the company’s bottom line.
It’s much better to turn the morale ship around in an effort to change the company climate for the better, improve productivity and increase employee retention rates. The following four recommendations will get you headed in the right direction:
Air the dirty laundry
You can’t fix what you don’t know. Don’t assume that you know what the chatter is about at the water cooler, you have to find out. Engage people in conversation to vent and share their concerns with you.
If your team is comfortable, get it all out in a group meeting. If that’s not an option, allow people to type their concerns and turn them in anonymously. More than likely, you’ll discover some common threads. Prevalent reasons for low morale are worries over job security, personal conflicts, limited options for upward mobility and lack of acknowledgment from management.
Now you have the opportunity to find solutions to the problems that are bringing your employees down. If you had to use anonymous letters this time around, then that’s a good indicator that working on trust with your team would be a great starting point.
Deal with conflict
No matter how great your team is, there will be moments when people bump heads. If conflicts begin to bring morale down, it’s time to step in. The first step is to determine who needs to be involved when solving problems. If it’s one individual with a problem, a one-on-one meeting will probably be the best option. If multiple people are sparring, a group meeting may be called for. Once your meeting begins, follow these five steps:
- Diffuse the situation through seating arrangements, sitting in a circle is best;
- Share expectations on appropriate communication;
- Allow each person to air their concerns uninterrupted;
- Brainstorm solutions;
- Follow-up within an agreed upon timeframe.
Make sure that each of your team members knows that their role within the company is valued and that their efforts and accomplishments are being seen. This doesn’t mean you have to say, “Good job” every time someone finishes a task or project. But, we all like to have our efforts noticed when we complete a project that was difficult, took a great deal of skill, came under budget or was completed before a deadline. It doesn’t take much effort to keep your eyes open for success and a little effort will go a long way.
Find out what your employees’ goals are within the company so you can support their path for growth and upward movement. Consider implementing a mentorship program to foster growth from someone higher on the corporate ladder. When we help others, it automatically gives us a positive boost as well.
If you have staff members who are struggling with their work or time management skills, make sure they receive the training that they need from within or outside the company so they feel confident and capable in their skills and the quality of their work.
Improve morale today so you retain productive employees who are fulfilled, committed and willing to give you their best.