Boost Employee Morale With These Science-Based Strategies

When your team starts posting sad GIFs and spacing out at meetings, you know you need to do something to boost employee morale.

But what should you do? Send them snacks and hope they’ll cheer up? Well, that’s one idea.

What’s even better is using a mix of strategies, according to research into performance and motivation in the workplace. Researchers have found that motivation isn’t the result of one, but several factors, including:

  • A sense of empowerment
  • Good communication at work
  • Rewards 
  • Positive relationships at the office

And that’s just some of them.

What’s important to note is that these motivators are effective regardless of the circumstances — read: a global pandemic — so all you have to do is learn more about them and adapt them to your current possibilities. To help with that, take a look at some of the information and suggestions below.

1. Help your employees feel empowered

Want to motivate an employee? Make them feel empowered. Psychologists define empowerment as a perception of these four things: 

  1. Impact: You feel like the work you do matters.
  2. Competence: You feel capable of doing your job.
  3. Meaningfulness: You care about what you do.
  4. Choice: You have some degree of autonomy at work.

As a manager, you can empower your employees by:

  • Trusting and respecting them. Instead of micromanaging and surveilling, give them the autonomy to make decisions and the flexibility to work at whatever schedule is best for them.
  • Showing them that what they do matters. Share insights and stats that demonstrate the impact of their contributions. 
  • Giving them what they need to do their best work. Equip employees with the resources they need to perform well. Ideally, you should provide them with a stipend so they can purchase what they need — whether that’s a comfy office chair or virtual coworking sessions — no questions asked.

2. Communicating clearly and compassionately

Clear, honest, and empathetic communication improves performance in teams. As a manager, you can improve the flow of communication by:

  • Having weekly team meetings and check-ins
  • Providing more feedback
  • Sharing tips on how to communicate in remote teams

Many employees who are new to remote work are now learning to communicate in new ways. Sharing tips and resources for communicating clearly and efficiently with teammates, within departments, and with the public is crucial.

Experts recommend that managers invest in studying, practicing, and perfecting clear communication. “One of the most critical ways employers can go above and beyond is simple: over-communicate,” writes journalist Sarah Sluis. That also goes for delivering feedback, an essential habit that managers are more likely to neglect when working remotely.

For example, during times of crisis, like the current global pandemic, sharing updates about the impact on business and critical employee information is essential to provide trust and transparency and keep employees confident in the company.

3. Rewarding employees

Research shows that rewards influence the behavior of individuals and teams. When employees are enticed with rewards, they are more likely to contribute and make changes  to their behavior to improve things.

Although rewards are often used to help individuals and teams reach specific goals, in times of crisis, many companies reward employees simply for doing their best. For example, when it comes to reward types, physical objects such as care packages are all the rage during social distancing.

Stuart Cook, Marketing Manager at luggage delivery company MyBaggage, told HR platform Namely:

“We sent care packages to our employees’ homes to help them adjust to remote work. The care packages were tailored for each individual, and they included self-care items such as cozy socks, chocolate, herbal tea, craft kits, puzzles, books, and board games. We also included some essential office supplies to ensure our employees have everything they need to work remotely.”

Encouraging friendships at work

When engagement platform OfficeVibe did research into work friendships, they found that friends at work made 70% of employees happier.

The data they compiled shows that work friendships help:

  • Increase retention
  • Boost productivity
  • Improve company culture
  • Improve work quality 
  • Make the day to day at work more fun

Companies do well to encourage friendships at work through team-building activities and retreats. 

During the pandemic, they can continue to support work friendships remotely with help from tech. Using apps such as Donut, they can randomly pair up team members for virtual coffee dates, an activity that Angela Ceresnie, CEO at Climb Credit, plans to continue even post-COVID:

“I’ve found it [Donut] is a great way to know more about what a person’s workday and life outside of work are like, as well as to better understand coworkers — even those who work across the country.”

Implement these ideas to boost employee morale

The science of what motivates people in the workplace isn’t new. To motivate individuals and teams, all that managers need to do is adapt time-and-tested strategies  such as:

  • Empowering individuals
  • Communicating clearly and compassionately
  • Rewarding employees
  • Encouraging friendships at work

By practicing these four things, leaders can keep employees happy and productive during and after the pandemic.

How is your company taking care of employees during this pandemic? For more on team motivation, check out How to Motivate a Recruiting Team.

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