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The Right and Wrong Ways to Boost Morale

Iíve been working in the corporate world for a very long time. I think morale has reached an all time low where I currently work, and I would guess that the same is true where you work too.

So, I decided to do some research (i.e. talk with my buddies at work and search online) to see what really improves morale and what does not work. I figured that since we were never managers, we would be void of managementís misconceptions and skewed perspectives of what boosts morale.

Without further ado, here is what I found out that does NOT boost morale or only boosts morale for an insignificant amount of time.

  • Seminars: Seminars and meetings to discuss why employees are pessimistic, sarcastic, and have generally poor attitudes does not address the real problems.
  • Parties: Who in their right mind thinks that company parties and picnics, with the people you already see too much of, would help morale? These types of morale improvements only last as long as the free booze and food. Furthermore, attending parties outside of regular working hours are typically a drain to morale.
  • Entertainment: If I wanted to see a particular movie, I would have already seen it, and Iíd rather see it with my wife and friends. If it is a movie that I did not want to see, then it will only make me annoyed or upset. Same thing for mini-golf and bowling activities.
  • Meals: Team lunches and dinners were split about half way. Almost everyone agreed that free food improves morale, yet there was an inconsistency if it helped in the long term or only in the short term. Since this activity may or may not work depending on the person, I donít think this is a very good way to boost morale.
  • Gambling: Office pools and lotteries eventually brings some discontent to the work place.
  • Humor: Jokes are quickly forgotten. Any manager who is continuously humorous is not taken seriously. Humor only masks real problems.
  • Awards: Useless pieces of paper are a poor method of giving recognition. Some people disagreed with me here, but a lot more people agreed with this opinion. You decide for yourself.
  • Drinks: Free coffee and water is expected in any office. Donít think this will boost morale unless you've never had it before. And if so, it will quickly be taken for granted.
  • Toys: Office toys and games, such as stress balls and puzzles, only provide momentary pleasure that quickly become boring and do not improve morale.

As for some real ways to boost morale, try these suggestions.

  1. Recognition: Having managers and fellow employees really recognize good work, long hours, and dedication improves morale. A few good words is all some people really need.
  2. Money: Despite how well or poorly business may be, financially reward your star employees, otherwise they will leave. Whether it is a yearly pay increase, a cash bonus, or extra days off with pay; just do something that adds real value to employees.
  3. Dress Code: Let employees dress casually as much as possible. I know of several offices that force employees to wear suits and ties when there is no need. My golden rule is if I do not have a meeting with upper management or clients, I dress casually yet never unprofessionally.
  4. Communication: Be very clear on requirements, tasks, expectations, goals, and duties for each person, yet do not micro-manage. Define what is necessary for promotions. Open doors are a must, and managers must appear approachable. This leads me to my next recommendation..
  5. Attitude: It is very contagious if management has a bad attitude. Smile and be friendly.
  6. Leadership: A good/strong leader should be rewarded. A weak/bad leader must be removed as soon as possible.
  7. Alignment: Align the goals and prioritizations of the company or department with the individual goals of each employee. Show employees how they fit into the big picture.
  8. Schedule: Allow flexible hours and telecommuting when possible. Personal life is more important for most employees, so be flexible.
  9. Training: In the IT world, engineers love learning new things that may or may not help them in their current jobs.
  10. Miscellaneous: Random free foods (donuts or bagels in the morning), specialty drinks (soda, juice, etc.), free laundry service, and other unexpected perks are great morale boosters.

I hope these suggestions are taken seriously in hopes that they improve morale and spirits where you may work. And remember, someone does not need to be a manager or owner to help boost morale, so if you think your fellow employees are depressed then please try something.

by Phil for Humanity
on 08/22/2007

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