5 keys to improve team morale, and then some

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first.” Maybe you’ve seen this Richard Branson quote on team morale that pops up on LinkedIn fairly regularly. The renowned entrepreneur is on to something, even if it is contrary to conventional business wisdom.

You know how flight attendants tell us to put on our own oxygen masks before we help someone else? It’s like that. If your team doesn’t feel safe and valued, they won’t be able to take care of your customers.

Turnover is costly on so many levels. It makes all kinds of sense to take steps that improve morale and increase team loyalty.

When we hear about perks at companies like Google, we tend to think team morale centers on things like napping pods and ping pong tables. Yet amenities are meaningless if employees don’t feel like their contribution matters and they have a stake in something bigger than themselves.

The core of morale comes from a culture of trust and collaboration. Follow these tips to build one and demonstrate it to your team.

Good team morale stems from than amenities and perks. It's built on trust and collaboration.

Five steps to achieving a culture of high team morale

Ask employees what they need. Authentic answers require a pattern of inviting feedback, listening, and respecting what you learn. Ask what incentives and perks are meaningful to them rather than assuming you know.

Make sure employees have what they need to do their job. Patrick Kelly of Change Point Consulting writes about how one business owner asked and found out the answer to growing dissatisfaction was as simple as buying another forklift so two teams wouldn’t constantly have to deal with the tensions created by sharing one.

The need might be clear cut or more complex, and you may or may not be able to provide it all. But just the fact that you’re asking conveys that you are paying attention and want to support your staff’s success.

Respect team members’ private lives. Support boundaries and set the example. Make sure they know you don’t expect them to check their work email on vacation or answer your call during their son’s violin recital.

Value employees as human beings, not machines. Overworked people do not function well. The result, says Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project, is that “Organizations find themselves in a crisis of fatigue, fear, distractibility and uncertainty which is undermining sustainable high performance and effective business transformation.” He recommends 90-minute periods of focus with real breaks between and a real lunch break away from their desk.

Unite your team around meaning. The most important contributor to morale is knowing their work isn’t just a job, that they are part of accomplishing something of significance. Highly functional, committed teams have goals that accomplish a larger purpose. Know what yours are and involve your team in forming the strategy to reach them. A team united around the vision will be motivated to work better together.

The key to team morale is to build these keys into your culture. Beyond that, the internet is full of ideas for ways to boost morale. Here are a few ideas we’ve gleaned to get you started.

From Marcus Erb writing for Entrepreneur:

  • Celebrate accomplishments creatively.
  • Set aside regular paid days to work on individual passion projects.
  • Provide paid time regularly to do good as a team.
  • Have some fun – maybe that ping pong table!

From Sujan Patel writing for Inc.:

  • Get rid of dysfunctional employees (a.k.a. jerks) who create more work for everyone and poison morale.
  • Develop and promote strong promotional tracks.
  • Recognize personal milestones and losses – in personal ways.
  • Offer discounts and partner programs
  • Provide sabbaticals after a certain longevity
  • Outsource and delegate: Don’t expect people to do it all.

How does your organization boost its team morale and recruit the best people?

How does your organization promote a work culture of trust and respect? What practical ways have proven meaningful to boost your team’s morale?

Speaking of team, let us know how we can help when you’re ready to recruit a new team member who will be a positive fit for your culture. Contact our Denver or Houston offices, or call 303-813-8100 to get started.

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