8 Proven Ways To Boost Office Morale
With the economy picking back up, it’s only a matter of time before job turnover also starts speeding up again. Unsatisfied workers will begin looking for a better job environment and if your office morale is lacking, your company could be the one losing team members. But making some tweaks to your office and work culture can turn the tables and make yours the company that people are dying to work for. Try these techniques suggested by Business Insurance Quotes for boosting office morale and you may see your employees’ satisfaction soar. Alternatively you may not, because I don’t actually agree with this list of 8, so see my alternative list at the end. What do you think?
1. Get a dog
Not every work environment may be suitable to have dogs running around, but research has shown that dogs in the office can help boost the morale and improve work relationships. Whether it’s one office dog or many dogs brought by the employees who own them, the furry co-workers somehow build trust between employees and encourage collaboration. If you allow workers to bring their own dogs from home, it also keeps them from wanting to leave work right at 5 to get home to their pet.
In 2011, employees everywhere got great news: there is now scientific evidence that says they should be able to browse the Internet at work. Now, we’re not talking going to any sites you’d be ashamed to show your wife, but in general, if you let employees use their short moments of downtime to look at websites they enjoy, they will feel less tired become more productive when they’re done. Studies have found that workers who use their breaks to goof around on the Internet rather than checking emails or texting friends are also more engaged in their work after the break and less likely to get bored with it.
The trend in employment is to let more and more employees work, at least occasionally, from home. As many as 40 million Americans telecommute at least once a year and that number continues to grow, with some estimates putting the number at 43 percent of the population by 2016 (though that seems a little extreme). But telecommuters in your company might be hurting the morale of the physical office. In-office workers are less satisfied with their work when there are more people working remotely. It may be because they have weaker ties with these co-workers or because they feel like they have less freedom and more work than the unseen workers at home.
In terms of the set-up of your office, what works for one company won’t necessarily work for another. You obviously have to take the space you have to work with and the nature of your business into account, but there are some office layouts that are better for morale than others. Traditional cubicles are the worst, making workers often feel isolated, under appreciated, and depressed. The open layout has less privacy than cubicles, which could be a problem if your workers make a lot of phone calls, but it encourages communication between employees and makes them feel like part of a team. Closed offices, where employees each have their own office, might be the best for morale, offering privacy and satisfaction, but if you can’t afford that, you might look into a mixed office plan, with closed offices, open-office desks, and a common area.
So “That’s what she said” jokes might actually hurt the office environment? Maybe taking management tips from Michael Scott isn’t such a good idea after all. A 2009 study found that even when people enjoy flirtation and sexual innuendo in the workplace, it has a negative effect on the morale of the office. Surprisingly, the effect is even greater among men. So try to cut down on sexual jokes among your employees, even if everyone seems to be laughing along. The office may seem tame at first, but it will boost spirits overall.
Whether you work in a place where suits are the daily requirement or your office just demands slacks and button-downs or dresses, rewarding your employees with a casual day can be a big morale booster. Many offices go with Casual Fridays, which allows workers to relax a bit and gives them something to look forward to throughout the week. You might also want to give dress-down days as a reward for finishing a long project or a special achievement.
7. Swear a bit
You don’t want to swear at someone at work, but mixing in cursing occasionally when appropriate can actually build relationships in the workplace and allow employees to release frustrations. A British study found that profanities that aren’t used in a negative or abusive way can boost morale and decrease stress. The boss should set the tone for the amount of swearing that is acceptable and gauge the comfort levels of employees to make sure no one is turned off by the amount. You should also avoid using foul language in front of clients or senior staff members.
Many companies were discussing cancelling their office holiday parties when the recession was at its worst. Spending money on a lavish affair didn’t make sense when everyone was hurting for cash. But experts warn against nixing parties altogether because it could hurt the morale of employees who have been working hard all year long. Take companies like Iceland Foods, recently voted the best company to work for in The Sunday Times – now they know how to party and celebrate, thereby creating a high value, high performance culture. If you typically have a party around the holidays or for other special occasions, like the company’s anniversary, keep the celebration but maybe scale it back a bit. You don’t always need a chocolate fountain or a ballroom for employee satisfaction.
Thank you to Roxanne McAnn for sending this post.
My personal view however, is somewhat different to all of the above.
What’s written above reflects things from an employee perspective in an economic cycle where employees have power. However, with 3 million people unemployed in the UK, it’s currently the employers with the power. In addition to which, if companies are to survive in this extremely challenging global economic climate, they cannot afford to go all ‘soft’ on their employees.
Great companies, like Iceland Foods, will be seeking to get the best out of their employees, retain and attract the very best people, by creating a high value, high performance culture. I would therefore replace the above eight suggestions as follows:
Organisations who are looking to become great places to work are striving to achieve the right balance between a stretching and demanding work environment and highly efficient, productive workers with a healthy work/life balance. This see-saw is incredibly difficult for leaders to manage. Companies must have the edge over their competition if they are to provide a secure environment for their employees and maintain their morale. To achieve this requires the creation of unstoppable teams, who deliver staggering results, but do so because they work hard and play hard and don’t burn themselves out. Having an external professional coach by their side enables leaders to achieve this balance in the same way top athletes and sports people do.
The problem with an open policy on browsing, as I have so often seen in companies I visit, is that it can become a complete distraction for employees and it reduces overall efficiency. Conversely, one of the biggest issues affecting productivity and morale is when employees feel they are so over-worked that they cannot afford to take a break at lunch. No break = a more inefficient afternoon = mounting workloads. Leaders should set the tone here and encourage staff to take ‘time out’ and rest.
Now-a-days many teams operate remotely. Some in different offices; some in different countries. The key to strong team-work and morale is good communication. Get the team together once a week to discuss and debate issues. This is the key to better decision making. With the explosion in audio conferencing facilities, skype and GoToMeeting this is entirely possible to get everyone ‘in one room’.
In terms of the set-up of your office, you will achieve greater productivity, efficiency and morale by addressing the behavioral and attitudinal issues facing the team each and every day rather than the physical environment in which they work. Here it is the leader who sets the tone. He/She must demonstrate good leadership. They must be alive to the feelings of the employees if they are to win their hearts and minds and create a fantastic atmosphere in which to work.
The key to healthy, open and honest working conditions is to actively promote equality and respect for all and celebrate diversity within the team. the team needs to be able to have their say in a spirit of honesty and openness, without fear of reprisal or blame. Playing to everyone’s strengths you can have banter and fun in the office – but everyone needs to understand the ground rules and the implications of getting it right or sometimes acknowledging if we get it wrong.
Most organisations now provide their employees with uniforms – in the customer services arena this helps the customer to easily identify who is working at the company. Wearing company attire with pride promotes the overall image of the organisation and can lead to a positive brand image – after all, as an employee, you are the face of the organisation. As such, poor dress code or poor (miserable) facial expression and attitude will undoubtedly damage the brand. I have a saying that one of only two things happen whenever you walk into an organisation. Your view of the brand will either be enhanced or diminished by the experience you have – there is no middle ground.
I’m not sure about the swearing thing – the boundaries here are impossible to set. However, leaders should always be promoting the opportunity to have fun. I once visited the guys at Charthouse Learning – their office was full of color, family photo’s, toys and games to play at break time and as ice-breakers for meetings. The atmosphere was electric. There was plenty of laughter, but also a serious undertone of being the best in business.
Surprisingly, many staff are not motivated entirely by money. The bonus culture is frowned upon and research shows that people are far more inclined to work harder and feel greater job satisfaction with a simple “Well done” and a pat on the back. The best blue chip companies I ever worked in knew that if they spent up to £10 million on lavish parties/conferences to celebrate the success of their very top people, they would earn that money back within a month, because it has the effect of stepping everyone up a gear to want to deliver even more and get back on the podium the following year/quarter. Take companies like Iceland Foods, recently voted the best company to work for in The Sunday Times – now they know how to party and celebrate, thereby creating a high value, high performance culture in which to work.
Anyway – that’s what I think – what do you think?
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