Boost Team Morale at Your Company

All companies, no matter the size, are driven by their employees. The team you've put together is the heart of your organization. That's why there's nothing worse for an organization than low morale. Team morale can make or break your company's success. Here's why it's so important, and some things you can do to keep employees happy and motivated.

Benefits of Boosting Morale

Every new employee you hire is an investment. You put time, energy, and resources into making them part of your team, in the hope that the value they provide your organization will be greater than the effort you're expending. With that in mind, it's in your best interest to ensure they stay with your company as long as possible. The longer they stay, the greater return there will be on your investment.

Low morale leads to higher employee turnover. It also means a higher rate of absenteeism, and lower general productivity. What's more, it's contagious. One unsatisfied, unmotivated employee can quickly turn into a whole team of them, lowering your productivity even more.

On the other hand, if you make an effort to boost morale, it can lead to higher self-esteem and better job satisfaction. This in turn manifests itself as greater employee retention, higher rates of productivity, and improved levels of attendance---all of which serve to improve your bottom line and make your investment in your employees more worthwhile.

Ways to Improve Team Morale

The first step is to understand that team morale is about more than just making sure employees are happy. Nobody is happy with their job all the time. Rather, it's about keeping them engaged, reducing stress, helping them stay motivated, and making sure they're satisfied with the path their career is taking within your organization.

So how do you do that? There are a number of steps you can take. Set goals and implement incentives for meeting them. It doesn't necessarily have to be a monetary incentive, either. Any token of your appreciation can go a long way, and making sure that employees who do well are recognized for their success is essential.

For instance, L.A.-based game developer Scopely makes employees feel appreciated by celebrating their anniversary with the company every year. They even provide fun, ridiculous gifts, from samurai swords to custom oil paintings, and more. The result is that employees come to look forward to spending another year with the company, and are more likely to stay longer.

Of course, you don't have to go to quite those lengths to show your appreciation. Even simple things like food can go a long way. You can buy everyone lunch to celebrate a team victory, get a cake to celebrate an important birthday or anniversary, or simply enjoy quality 1-1 time when going on a coffee break walk and talk.

It's also important to take an interest in employees' career paths. If you want to keep them around, you need to know where they're headed. Make sure there are opportunities for advancement within your organization, so that employees can expand their horizons and go further if they want to. You might also consider creating a mentorship program, so that seasoned employees can help newer ones grow, improve, and advance.

Building Morale with Better Communication

No matter what you do to build morale, the most important step is communication. Every workplace is different, so if you want to know what you can do for your team to improve morale, ask them. Check in with your employees periodically. Ask them how they feel, what they need, and if there's anything you can help with.

How you go about this can vary, depending on the size of your company. In a smaller organization, where you know everybody and see most of your employees every day, it's easier to gauge the mood of the room at any given time, to check in frequently, and offer to step in and help when needed.

In a larger company, it's a little more of a challenge to keep your finger on the pulse of what's going on. The only people you see and interact with regularly are the ones you're directly working with. To make sure everyone is taken care of, delegate your team leaders and department heads to check in regularly with their subordinates, ask those important questions, and get a feel for morale. Then, meet with them regularly, so they can share with you what's going on, and give you a better handle on what's going on in your organization, and how you can improve it for everyone.

When it comes to taking an active interest in your employees' wellbeing, few companies do better than Hyatt. The hospitality industry is famous for high employee turnover, but Hyatt Hotels engages employees in ways that make them want to stick around for years. Their training program focuses on helping workers advance their careers. They also have a Caring Fund to lend a hand to employees suddenly facing emergency expenses. By caring about their employees' needs and goals, and helping them meet them, Hyatt is able to retain one of the highest morale rates, not just of any hotel, but of any major company, period.

Large or small, every organization is different. Every team has different priorities, and different things that they care about. Improving morale is about helping them with those things that they care about, and making their priorities your priorities. If you can do that, you'll have better morale, higher employee satisfaction, and a better overall team, who can do well for your company for years to come.

What does your leadership team do to help promote high team morale? Share your best words of wisdom in the comments below.