Tag Archives: employee morale

Keeping Employees Happy Without a Raise

It’s all about the money. Or is it?

Getting a raise is obviously enticing to employees. It plays a role in keeping them happy and for minimizing turnover. But sometimes it’s just not in the cards for your company. Fortunately, there are several other ways to keep your employees happy without a raise.


Offer Flexible Scheduling

Flexible working arrangements like telecommuting, compressed workweeks and reduced hours are very alluring to modern employees. One of the best alternatives to a raise is to offer flexible scheduling. This enables your employees to achieve more of a balanced work-life schedule.

In fact, some employees are even willing to earn less in order to telecommute. According to a study from Harvard University that surveyed roughly 7,000 job applicants, “Workers were willing to accept eight percent lower pay, on average, to work from home.”

With more and more workers suffering from burnout and fatigue, flexible scheduling is a huge perk. Not only can this increase overall employee satisfaction, it can help your business tremendously from a recruiting standpoint.


Offer More Vacation Time

Maybe a raise isn’t feasible, but increasing the amount of vacation time for your top employees may be. Even a 10 percent increase in vacation days can be appealing. Keep in mind that you don’t need to do this for everyone — just your superstars who consistently perform at a high level.


Make Gratitude Part of Your Culture

Employee recognition plays an integral role in job satisfaction, productivity and overall morale. Unfortunately, it seems to be something that’s overlooked by many employers. A study from Socialcast found, “39 percent of employees don’t feel appreciated at their jobs, and 69 percent say they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated.”

Although you may not be able to increase someone’s salary, you can make a concerted effort to consistently show your appreciation and recognize their efforts. Making gratitude a part of your culture should keep your employees more engaged and reduce the likelihood of them jumping ship. As Socialcast suggests, be sure that you recognize your employees in a timely manner and avoid playing favorites.


Create a More Pleasant Working Environment

Companies like Google, Facebook and Flickr are known for their fun working environments. They are workplaces where the “work hard, play hard” mantra reigns supreme. Given the success of these companies, there are definitely advantages of creating an atmosphere that’s pleasant and where employees feel comfortable.

Here are some specific ways to spruce up your workplace.

  • Incorporate elements of nature – According to the Human Spaces Global Report, “Employees who worked in environments with natural elements reported a 15 percent higher level of well-being, a six percent higher level of productivity and a 15 percent higher level of creativity.”
  • Provide games for employees in the break room – A foosball table or video games are great ways to relax and encourage bonding.
  • Offer free food and drinks
  • Ditch the cubicles and opt for an open working environment


Employee satisfaction should be a top priority. More money certainly helps, but there are several ways to keep employees happy without a raise. In some cases, these strategies can actually have a bigger impact than money and encourage your top performers to stick around.

Top 5 Ways to Maintain Employee Morale

Happy employees are more productive employees. There’s concrete evidence that proves it. According to research from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, “Happiness made people around 12 percent more productive.” Achieving high morale is only half the battle. The real challenge is figuring out how to maintain employee morale.


1. Encourage Feedback

Transparency and openness are two contributing factors to positive change. You most likely provide your employees with ongoing feedback on their performance, so why not give them the opportunity to offer feedback as well?

Open communication ensures your employees’ voices are heard and issues aren’t allowed to fester. It should reduce any underlying frustration from building. Encouraging feedback can also lead to potential breakthroughs because fresh ideas are continually flowing.


2. Make Employee Recognition a Habit

The act of recognizing an employee’s hard work and contributions is simple. Yet it can have a profound impact on productivity and retention. Research from a Workforce Mood Tracker Survey found, 78 percent of U.S. workers said being recognized motivates them in their job, and 69 percent of employees would work harder if they were better recognized. So make it a habit of recognizing the accomplishments of your team and celebrating their successes.


3. Consider Flexible Scheduling

There’s been a fundamental shift in the way most employees view their work-life balance. The overwhelming majority of millennials value flexible scheduling and many even demand it.

PwC’s NextGen: A Global Generational Study found, “Millennials have a new approach to workplace productivity and flexibility. This generation does not believe that productivity should be measured by the number of hours worked at the office but rather by the output of the work performed.”

Offering flexible scheduling options such as telecommuting, compressed workweeks, or reduced hours can have a tremendous impact on employee morale and make for a much happier team.


4. Offer Development Opportunities

Hardly anyone wants to be stuck in a dead end job with zero opportunity for advancement. This is a recipe for low morale and high turnover. Ideally, practice internal promotion where dedicated employees can work their way up the company ladder. It’s also helpful to offer some type of training to facilitate professional development.


5. Create an Element of Play

Everyone needs a bit of downtime to take their mind off of work and recharge their batteries. One way to facilitate this and maintain employee morale is to give your employees a chance to “play” during their breaks. For instance, Google offers its employees ping pong and foosball tables and video games. They’ve found this to be an excellent way for employees to unwind between intense coding sessions.

It may sound silly, but you can’t deny that Google’s recipe works, and they’re known for having some of the happiest employees in the country. An added plus is that playing like this can be the catalyst for relationship building and deeper chemistry.

It should be every employer’s objective to maintain employee morale. Doing so can have a host of benefits including increased productivity, lower turnover, and higher profitability, which all contribute to improving your overall bottom line.

The Wake of Layoffs: How HR Can Manage the Message

Layoffs are an unfortunate but inevitable part of running a business. It isn’t pretty, but downsizing is often a necessary evil for optimizing a company’s efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Nonetheless, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, and surviving employees are likely to be on edge. So how can HR manage the message in the wake of layoffs?


Prepare for a Backlash

There’s a great quote from Dave Denaro, vice president and site leader at Keystone Associates, regarding the reaction of surviving employees. “In general terms, a layoff isn’t personal. It’s a purely professional decision taken to protect the business. That doesn’t mean it won’t make your employees nervous; even the possibility of a restructuring can send a shiver down a worker’s spine.”

Seeing their colleagues terminated can leave surviving employees feeling nervous, uncertain and even resentful. Even though they still have their jobs, it’s hard not to question your company’s stability and their intrinsic value in your company.

This can result in turnover and your key talent may “head for higher ground” out of fear that they could be the next to go. You should be prepared for employees to walk and may want to have a temporary staffing agency lined up in the event that you need to quickly fill vacated positions.


Keep an Open Line of Communication

The best thing you can do is keep your employees in the loop. Be honest and transparent about the situation. Don’t simply leave everyone guessing what the future of your company looks like and what their role will be in it. Your employees are likely to have plenty of questions, so be willing to give an honest answer to quell their concerns.

Most importantly, let your employees know that they’re genuinely valued. Open communication like this should resuscitate morale and will hopefully prevent a mass exodus.


Show Respect and Empathy

Layoffs can create an ominous atmosphere in your workplace. Out of nowhere, your surviving employees’ livelihood comes into question, which can lead to a sense of disillusionment and distrust. As an employer, it’s crucial to demonstrate genuine respect and empathy.

Ideally, you’ll provide a forum that enables them to vent their emotions to prevent rumors or hostility from spreading. Make it clear that you understand their position and thank your staff for bearing with you during this turbulent time.


Pick Up the Slack

Layoffs are obviously disruptive to operations. All of a sudden, there’s friction and it’s harder to cover the workload. One of the best ways to reduce this friction and boost morale is to implore management to pick up the slack until the dust settles. For instance, you might ask your managers to temporarily cover extra duties to keep the wheels turning.

There’s no denying that layoffs are difficult. Even though your remaining workers still have their jobs, it can be incredibly distressing. By managing the message correctly and handling the situation with tact, you should be able to reduce conflict and get things back on track.



Improve Morale By Eliminating Performance Reviews

Employee morale is incredibly important and affects multiple areas of business including productivity, profitability, retention and turnover. The problem is that many companies are shooting themselves in the foot by latching onto a particularly antiquated HR policy. By eliminating this policy, you can improve morale dramatically.


Performance Reviews – A Source of Fear and Loathing

At first glance, performance reviews probably seem like a positive thing. They’re a time-tested means of providing employees with feedback and addressing problem areas. Their roots can be traced all the way back to the Industrial Revolution when there was the ongoing need for improved work methods to boost productivity and product quality.

Fast-forward to the 21st century and performance reviews are still practiced by plenty of companies across a variety of industries. However, multiple studies show that it’s time to rethink performance reviews.


An Outdated Practice

One particular study from Adobe found that performance reviews do more harm than good and can have a tremendously negative impact on employee morale. Here are some highlights:

  • Nearly two-thirds of employees and managers believe performance reviews are an outdated practice.
  • Managers spend an average of 17 hours planning for each individual employee’s review.
  • One in five workers admit to crying after a review.
  • 37 percent say they have looked for another job.
  • 20 percent say they have quit.
  • To avoid the stress and heartache, more than 60 percent of millennial workers say they would switch to another company with no performance reviews.
  • Both office workers (55 percent) and managers (66 percent) say it’s time to change or get rid of reviews.


The Implications

These statistics tell us three main things. First, performance reviews have become old-fashioned and are out of touch with the modern workforce. While they may have been viable in the 1950’s, it’s clear that they simply don’t have a place in the twenty-teens.

Second, they’re time-consuming. Although not every manager will spend 17 hours planning a performance review, this study suggests that they can be a major time drainer.

Third and most importantly, employees hate them. If performance reviews lead to your employees crying, looking for a new job or quitting, this obviously isn’t doing any favors for morale. In some cases, it can be the catalyst for excessive turnover and even damage your brand reputation.


The Solution

So what should you do if performance reviews are your company’s primary means of providing feedback?

The answer is surprisingly simple. Switch to on-the-job feedback. Rather than using a rigid, antiquated system like performance reviews, you’re far better off providing feedback in real-time.

Not only should this improve morale, it tends to be more effective because it’s easier for your employees to understand and implement information when it’s presented in this manner. According to Adobe’s study, this is the preferred mode of feedback with 80 percent of office workers preferring feedback in the moment.

It’s amazing to think that you can dramatically improve morale by ditching just a single HR policy. Eliminating performance reviews and opting for on-the-job feedback is a smart move that can pay dividends for your company.


motivates your employees

What Truly Motivates Your Employees?

Employee engagement is directly linked to motivation. Highly motivated employees tend to be more motivated and therefore more productive. Unfortunately, employee engagement levels are by no means ideal.

An infographic from Office Vibe states that, “70 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged at work.” To extract the most from your workforce, it’s crucial to know what motivates your employees.


Main Motivating Factors

In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink suggests that there are three things that truly motivate employees.

  1. Autonomy – the freedom to choose task, time, technique, and team
  2. Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something that matters
  3. Purpose – the desire to pursue a cause larger than ourselves

According to Pink, most workers have an innate desire for empowerment and seek to continually grow in their career.

An article from Psychology Today also examines employee motivation and highlights some key factors that motivate workers to go the extra mile. In a study, participants were asked to identify major motivators:

  • Camaraderie, peer motivation (20%)
  • Intrinsic desire to a good job (17%)
  • Feeling encouraged and recognized (13%)
  • Having a real impact (10%)
  • Growing professionally (8%)

As you can see, there’s a considerable amount of overlap with these factors and the ones mentioned by Pink. When you break it all down, most employees want to feel a sense of purpose and that they’re genuinely contributing. They want to grow and progress and not merely be cogs in a wheel.


Is it Time for a New Approach?

In the past, many employers assumed that in order to run a company successfully, they needed to maintain a high level of control. Employees needed to clock in and out at a certain time, be given specific tasks, be told to follow exact directions and so on. There was little wiggle room, and employees were often regarded as subordinates or simply resources.

As of late, more and more employers are switching tactics and choosing to take a results-oriented approach that’s all about the bottom line — getting things done and being as productive/profitable as possible. A new approach revolves around viewing employees as trusted partners, not resources.

Some managers even give employees freedom of when they work, how long they work, the tasks they work on, etc. as long as everything is completed correctly and on time.


Finding Middle Ground

While it’s probably not realistic for most employers to give their employees this type of freedom and the logistics may not compute, it shows that perhaps a new approach is in order. If Pink’s thesis is correct, it would be in an employer’s best interest to give employees some level of autonomy and allow them to develop mastery in their career and realize their purpose.

Rather than viewing the whole process like an assembly line and controlling every aspect of operations, it would make more sense to treat employees as trusted partners and provide them with the tools needed for empowerment.

I think what Pink is trying to say is that employees don’t want to be managed by a strict taskmaster controlling their every move. Knowing what motivates your employees is the key to unlocking their full potential. By letting go, being flexible and giving employees some degree of autonomy over their work, this can increase engagement and create a more unified workforce where everyone contributes in their own unique way.


Is Your Business a Fun Place to Work?

“All fun and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

~Jack Torrance (Caretaker of the Overlook Hotel)


Fun isn’t always a word we use to describe the workplace. Often work and play are seen as two separate entities with little to no overlap. But with attitudes changing and more millennials entering the workforce, more companies are placing an emphasis on employee satisfaction and striving to create a fun place to work.


Why is Workplace Fun Important?

According to Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, “There is good evidence that if you allow employees to engage in something they want to do, (which) is playful, there are better outcomes in terms of productivity and motivation.”

Simply put, happy employees are productive employees. When people are relaxed and laugh more, it tends to translate into a positive mental attitude. This allows them to think more clearly, makes them more engaged and can boost creativity. In turn, they work more efficiently and effectively.


Less Employee Absenteeism

Information from On Rec’s website found that creating a fun place to work also lowers the number of days employees take off due to sickness and injury. In fact, a study found that, “62 percent of employees who had had no sick days in the last three months report having had fun at work. Furthermore, 58 percent of those who had not experienced workplace fun had been off sick for 11 or more days, compared to 42 percent of those who had.”

The bottom line is that shaking things up and encouraging your employees to cut loose can have a noticeable impact on your workplace. If you need proof, just consider that some of the most successful companies like Google, Apple and Facebook all place an emphasis on creating a fun culture.


How to Make Your Business a Fun Place to Work

Now that we’ve established that seriousness is overrated, here are some specific ways to make things more fun and exciting.

  • Set up a lounge – You might offer a ping pong table, foosball table, video games or other activities that give your employees a chance to relax and talk about something else other than work. Not only can this relieve stress, it will often create team synergy.
  • Add some playful decor – If your company looks way too corporate and Spartan, spice it up with some funky designs, action figures, nerf basketball hoops, etc.
  • Bring in an office pet – This can be a big hit with animal lovers.
  • Offer hobby breaks – Allow your employees to devote a small block of time to their favorite hobby. This will allow them to unwind and recharge their batteries.
  • Casual Fridays – Okay, this concept may be a bit cliche’, but it can definitely be effective for lightening the mood.


When you look at the clear benefits of fun in the workplace and the impact it’s had on successful companies, it’s easy to see why having a strong “play ethic” is just as important as working hard. By experimenting with a few different possibilities, you should be able to make your business a fun place to work and keep your employees happy.

Need a Break? Your Employees Do, Too!

With the average American working 9.2 hours a day, it’s important that employees are able to take periodic breaks to relax and recharge. Otherwise, it’s easy to experience burnout — and it’s common for productivity to dwindle. From a legal standpoint, many state laws require employers to provide their staff with either rest breaks or meal breaks. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to offering work breaks to your employees and the positive impact it can have on your company.

The Importance of Work Breaks

Numerous studies have shown that taking periodic breaks helps businesses in many ways including increasing employee productivity, preventing fatigue/burnout and boosting employee morale. More specifically…

  • 86 percent of employees agreed that taking breaks makes them more productive
  • Mircrobreaks (between 30 seconds and five minutes) improve mental acuity by an average of 13 percent
  • Taking regular breaks of 1.5 minutes increased worker productivity by 6.45 percent — and taking regular breaks of two minutes increased productivity by 11.15 percent

The bottom line is that humans are prone to burnout when there’s an unhealthy balance between work and break time. To operate at peak level, it’s necessary to give employees periodic work breaks where they can relax and unwind.

Types of Breaks

Work breaks typically fall into one of the following categories:

  • Meal breaks – These range anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour, and employees may often go off premises to have a meal
  • Snack or coffee breaks – This is where employees take off for 10 to 15 minutes for a quick snack and/or to drink a beverage
  • Restroom breaks – Employees will take a brief break of a few minutes to use the restroom and get refreshed
  • Smoking breaks – These aren’t as common as they used to be because many businesses have banned smoking on company premises, but last for around five to 10 minutes
  • Health breaks – These are typically reserved for individuals with disabilities or other specialized medical needs where they tend to their health and usually last for five to 10 minutes

Laws and Regulations

While the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn’t have any formal requirements that demand that employers offer their employees breaks, there are many state laws that do have regulations. To determine which laws your state has, you can consult The United States Department of Labor website.

In terms of compensation, you’re generally expected to pay workers during their breaks. The only type of scenario where employers aren’t required to pay employees is for breaks when they’re relieved of all of their duties or for breaks that exceed 30 minutes in length.

Although scheduling break times can be difficult for many small to mid-sized businesses because of the workload and limited manpower, it’s hard to deny the advantages that it offers. And when you consider the laws that some states have in place, you may be legally required to offer work breaks. That’s why it’s important to develop a schedule where your employees can have adequate breaks, while ensuring that the workload is still covered.


Employee Morale

How to Build Employee Morale and Keep it Up

Creating a positive company culture with high morale and motivated employees tends to translate into increased productivity and, ultimately, profitability. On the other hand, low employee morale and unmotivated employees often lead to increased turnover, diminished productivity and lower profitability.

As the economy continues to heat up after the Great Recession, workers have more options than they used to (especially highly-skilled workers) — and many will quickly jump ship for other opportunities and better treatment. Building high employee morale is an important aspect of running a successful company.

The Importance of Employee Morale/Retention

Although employee morale is an abstract concept that can’t be tangibly measured, it impacts several areas of operations that can be measured in concrete terms. Increased morale equals a higher retention rate and decreased morale equals a lower retention rate.

Why should you be so concerned with keeping employees and minimizing turnover? Besides having to go through the painstaking process of recruiting, interviewing and training, research indicates that turnover costs companies a significant amount of money. In fact, ERE Media found that:

  • For entry-level employees, it costs between 30-50 percent of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For mid-level employees, it costs upwards of 150 percent of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For high-level or highly specialized employees, you’re looking at 400 percent of their annual salary.

There also tends to be a correlation between low morale and low productivity because unhappy workers often lack the motivation of happy workers. This can rear it’s ugly head in several ways including:

  • Counterproductive behavior
  • Poor customer service
  • High absenteeism rates
  • Illness
  • Employee distrust

The bottom line is that a workforce of happy, healthy, satisfied and present employees will accomplish much more than unhappy, unhealthy, dissatisfied and frequently absent employees. When a company has high employee morale, its workers are likely to stick around longer and have a deeper sense of loyalty.

How to Establish a Positive Work Culture

While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula that works for all businesses, there are several ways to boost employee morale and establish a more positive working environment. Perhaps the most effective way to accomplish this is to offer employees comprehensive benefits such as healthcare, retirement, dental and life insurance. Studies have shown that benefits like these rank very high in terms of what employees are seeking.

Offering development opportunities where individuals can be promoted and work their way through the ranks can also serve as a good motivator. Many workers enjoy being challenged and like to know that there’s a chance for growth.

Also, many employees and especially millennials put a priority on achieving a healthy work/life balance and want their employers to recognize that they have other objectives and pursuits than just work. Consequently, offering flexible scheduling and having telecommuting options can be beneficial.

Some additional ways to improve morale and establish a positive work culture include:

  • Recognizing individuals for their accomplishments and showing appreciation
  • Offering adequate breaks
  • Offering competitive pay
  • Encouraging communication

For a business to truly thrive and have any real sustainability, it’s critical to achieve a positive company culture where its employees “buy in” and everyone’s on board. By taking measures to increase employee morale and building trust with your staff, it should put your company in a favorable position and ensure that you’re competitive within your industry.