According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 report, which surveyed over 120,000 employed citizens around the world, fewer than one out of four (23%) employees are actively engaged at work. For businesses both large and small, this is a huge problem.
Disengaged, low-morale employees cost the world’s companies an estimated $8.8 trillion in lost productivity – an amount roughly equal to 9% of global GDP, according to the Gallup study.
Recognizing this, savvy employers will do all they can to increase employee morale and workplace satisfaction. Here are some of the best approaches to fortifying your workforce by boosting employee engagement:
1. Connect What Employees Do to What They Care About
Many employees are more likely to feel passionate about a company that stands for social change – so much so that they may even be willing to give up some financial benefits in order to work for an organization that practices social and environmental responsibility. If your company’s mission is to become the industry leader and nothing more, then your employees may have difficulty relating to your corporate goals. If, however, your organization also aims to have a positive societal impact, then its mission statement can serve as a rallying cry for employees who share those aims.
2. Help Employees Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance
A 2021 survey of more than 4,600 workers by the career site FlexJobs found that 68% of respondents would consider switching careers – and the top reason cited was to obtain a better work-life balance. Clearly, offering workers flexible work schedules and remote work opportunities can go a long way toward boosting employee morale. By allowing employees to reduce their commuting time and adjust their work hours to accommodate their personal priorities, flexwork can help them achieve a better balance between their personal and professional goals. This can help increase employee engagement, since it can reduce the potential conflicts and distractions that unattended personal matters can create.
3. Show Your Employees That You Value Them
An employee who feels valued and appreciated can be likely to have higher morale and be far more engaged and productive on the job. Managers, therefore, should consider frequently reminding their employees why their work is important and why the role they play is valued within the company. To bring this message home, consider implementing an employee recognition program or publicly recognize and reward your employees. You can do this simply by saying “thank you” in a group email, during a meeting, on a conference call, or with more elaborate gestures such as gift cards or dinner on the company at a nearby restaurant.
4. Engage in Open and Forthright Communication
The first thing customer service reps learn is that angry people need to vent before they’re willing to be consoled. With this in mind, managers should try to meet with their teams regularly to provide a forum for discussing the challenges that they’re facing. Is it the detailed monotony of filling out timesheets? Is it a particularly challenging client no one likes to deal with? Once their grievances have been aired, the rest of the meeting can be geared toward discussing possible solutions and the best way to deal with the situation at hand. The key here is to hold these sessions in small groups of employees who are familiar with each other, since many people are intimated by large groups and reluctant to speak openly in front of people they don’t know well.
For these grievance sessions to be effective, it’s also very important to follow up on any potential solutions that are agreed upon, so the employees involved can see that management is taking their concerns seriously. All of this can help to create a more positive workplace environment that can play a key role in increasing employee morale.
5. Encourage Opportunities to Socialize Outside of Work
A disengaged employee leaves all thoughts of work behind as soon as they walk out the office door. Engaged employees, on the other hand, feel connected to their work in all aspects of their life. Promoting team building and socialization outside of work is a great way to encourage this type of connection. Activities can run the gamut of afterwork meetups at a local bar or café to more intricate plans to organize a softball league or a benefit group for a local charity. Such efforts can quickly lead to greater esprit de corps – the shared spirit of camaraderie and devotion to a cause – and improved employee morale.
6. Promote Mental and Physical Wellness at the Office
Consider showing your employees that they’re valued by promoting their mental and physical well-being. There are many popular ways to do this, ranging from offering healthy food options at the company cafeteria to providing exercise and shower facilities so employees can work out during their lunch breaks or before heading home. Other options include perks like quiet rooms with cots or comfortable couches where employees can go to de-stress, or weekly neck, shoulder, and back massages performed at the office.
These types of benefits can help increase productivity and positivity at work simply because the modern workplace is often stressful both mentally and physically. Anything that helps employees counter that stress can help reduce employee burnout while boosting engagement and morale.
7. Support Professional Development
Nearly all workers want to hone their abilities and learn new skills – out of professional interest and pride, and to advance in the company and their careers. That makes support for professional development one of the most popular benefits a company can offer. Options range from in-house mentoring and online courses to in-person training classes and tuition reimbursement for outside courses. Different approaches can be better suited for workers with different job functions, but whatever form it takes, encouraging your employees’ professional advancement is one of the most powerful ways to increase their morale, loyalty, and engagement at work.
The Bottom Line
If, as most companies acknowledge, their success comes from their people, then it stands to reason that companies that do the best job of engaging their employees are positioning themselves for the greatest success. By following the morale-boosting practices outlined above, your company can substantially increase employee happiness at work – and all the advantages that come with high employee engagement.
A version of this article was originally published on March 27, 2013.
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