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How to Improve Employee Morale in a Bad Economy
According to a recent study by Time magazine, approximately 80% of people feel disrespected at work. In today’s economy, it is more difficult to find jobs – but it is also important to maintain employee happiness in order to increase the efficiency of the company in preparation for long-term success. A few years ago, I attended a private leadership training seminar in Louisville, Kentucky, conducted by Adrian Gostick, author of “A Carrot a Day”. Gostick, who teaches the importance of maintaining employee morale through rewards and recognition, is one of the best public speakers I have ever seen. He runs the websites Carrots.com and OCTanner.com with his business partner Chester Elton. Both travel the world speaking publicly and offering advice for implementing more employee recognition standards in the business world. During the session, he shared some of his tips for maintaining employee happiness in almost any size organization. Smart Money magazine recently reported that “optimistic diehards” are more successful in the business world – but anyone who has worked in that world knows how difficult it can be to maintain a positive attitude at times. .
Negativity is contagious and once it enters the corporate environment, it can spread like wildfire. So how do we combat it? With recognition, he said. A lively, energetic presenter with an infectious sense of optimism, Gostick recommends praising the efforts of employees who try to improve their own performance, and actually rewarding them when the efforts lead to results. Recognition is a big factor in boosting employee morale. If you feel like your employees could use a breath of positivity, try personal or symbolic recognition, or positive re-enforcement of good behavior. PERSONAL RECOGNITION Personal recognition is exactly what it sounds like: recognition for a job well done. This can be in the form of a “good job” or a pat on the back. Sometimes, it can be a step further and come out as a thank you card passed from a grateful boss to an employee who goes above and beyond. These types of recognition are almost always welcome – and can put a smile on someone’s face all day long. SYMBOLIC RECOGNITION Of course, to be effective, you want to avoid overkill. Too much of a good thing can be exaggerated or seem insincere. If you constantly praise your employees, your words may lose their meaning. Employees may expect praise, and see it as less of a “reward” – or, worse, feel hurt if you forget to praise them for doing what they consider a good job. Make sure you praise often, but not TOO MUCH.
Praise when needed, and when recognition is deserved, when building rapport or when a particular employee needs a morale boost. And try different types of compliments. Personal recognition is very effective, but symbolic recognition is also very helpful. Symbolic recognition involves going a step further and rewarding an employee with something other than words, a smile, a hand, or a friendly pat on the back. Symbolic recognition is often tangible, and includes gifts or prizes. I’ve seen companies give out everything from plaques to an employee’s favorite food, or even something as simple as a stress ball or bracelets. If you want to make the employee feel special (and if it’s in your company’s budget to do so) a personalized trophy can be given to a top performer to proudly display on his desk. Now that we have discussed some ways to identify top performers, let’s examine how to be effective in our identification. For identification to be successful, Adrian Gostick says that it must follow the following three rules: – frequent – specific – timely In his book “A Carrot a Day” (which I highly recommend to (anyone in a leadership or management role) Gostick recommends doing something morale-boosting once a day. The theory here is, if you continue to work to improve employee morale and keep your top performers satisfied, they will continue to work hard and keep your business running smoothly. However, if top performers are neglected, they may lose interest in working for your company.
This should not be underestimated, because top performers often realize their own worth and know that, even in a tough economy, they have a better-than-average chance of finding someone else. work. Another reason recognition is important, Gostick says, is because “customers base their opinions of a company on its frontline employees.” Think about it. Front line employees are often the first to see customers, often dealing with them personally. Unfortunately, they are also usually the lowest paid. Since studies have shown that people associate more money with happiness, this also means that front-line employees are often at risk of becoming unhappy in their jobs and even quitting to continue. other options. If your front line employees are unhappy, will they provide high quality customer service? Apparently not. “Customers will drive further and pay more for better services or cheaper prices,” Gostick said. The key to employee retention is making your employees happy. Of course, some idealism comes through, but the theory itself is a good one and improving employee morale will never hurt business. In fact, Gostick states in his book that employees who are praised and/or rewarded often “are better focused on the company’s goals. They see new opportunities more easily. The book even offers idea for managers looking for new ways to praise, recognize and reward employees. So, it’s no wonder it quickly became a bestseller on the Wall Street Journal and Business Week lists. Some of the most popular tips:
- Remember to thank the people who have influenced you. This is often overlooked. Don’t just promote a moral front line employee; promote it at all levels of your company.
- Bring out the inner star in your fellow employees. Publicly reward when appropriate – and watch the change it brings about in attitudes and performance.
- Hold a formal event out of recognition. Have a ceremony at least once a year to publicly praise top performers and make them stars. It also gives employees something to work on throughout the year.
- Track what your employees like – or don’t like. It doesn’t just mean their feelings about the work environment. It will also help you think of creative ways to reward them. Go to a more personal level with your reward ideas by asking them what motivates them. You can even do an anonymous (or anonymous) written survey of all employees for prize ideas. If possible, tailor your rewards to each specific person you are honoring. They will appreciate the personal touch, while knowing you are listening to their needs and wants. This is a great way to build rapport by letting them know you care!
Rewards don’t just have to come from top management – so don’t exhaust yourself trying to think of new ideas! Create a formal employee rewards & recognition program that allows employees to nominate and possibly even reward each other when they appreciate something a coworker has done or notice a job well done. This will boost morale, team rapport, and take some of the weight off your shoulders so you can focus on other important management duties. Just make sure you’re not relying on your employees to give 100% recognition. Most of this should get you started! Don’t underestimate the power of recognition. This is very important in the business world. Without it, you may lose employees. Top performers are the most likely to leave because they have the skills other employers are looking for – and they KNOW it! Fail to show your top performers what they are worth and they may leave you for another opportunity, should one arise. However, if an employee truly enjoys his environment, or feels respected and valued in the workplace, he may pay a lower salary or longer commute just for the feelings of value. To further illustrate this point, Gostick shared a story about his recent travel experience in China. During his trip, he met a young Chinese woman who spoke a little English.
Deciding to talk to him, he asked: “Have you been to America?” The girl replied that not only had she never visited the United States, but she had never left her hometown. Understandably surprised, Gostick decided to probe further by asking: “Why don’t you leave this town? Don’t you want to see the rest of the world?” “If I’m happy here,” answered the woman without hesitation, “why would I want to leave?” It seems businesses can learn a lot from this story.
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