June 30.2018, 3.52pm

Tired or Fired: 5 methods to boost employee morale and productivity

Morale can seem like an intangible quality at times but motivational speaker Danny Cox found a simple way to explain how it can reflect on a business and its leaders. “Morale is a good barometer of how each of your people is experiencing your leadership,” he said.

Are you doing enough as a leader to get the most from your workforce and create a positive employee experience? Happy workers are 12 percent more productive than the more miserable colleagues according to the findings of a team of economists.

Unhappy workers are 10 percent less productive, which is a swing of 22 percent. That’s a lot of lost productivity over an emotion – so what can you do to boost employee morale and productivity?

1. Offer employees flexible working arrangements

This may seem counter-intuitive but allowing employees to work from home can actually increase productivity. A Stanford study found that employee attrition among telecommuters fell by 50 percent. They took less time off, took shorter breaks and had fewer sick days. They were also 13.5 percent more efficient and reported higher job satisfaction.

With a greater focus on work-life balance, offering employees the chance to avoid the daily commute and trusting them to not take advantage can reap serious financial benefits. Not to mention make them happier, healthier and more engaged.

”Businesses that allowed remote working at least three times a month were more likely to log revenue growth of at least 10 percent within the last year, compared with firms without such policies,” said a report in the Wall Street Journal. So it’s definitely worth considering.

2. Measure progress and provide feedback

Annual employee surveys are useful but they’re not enough in this fast-paced digital world. Annual performance surveys may seem antiquated but getting rid of them altogether creates a vacuum.

As a recent study found, “performance is always rated somehow.” By not formally assessing an employee’s progress and development, employees will be left confused or disgruntled about how managers are making decisions on things like promotions or pay. With modern HR software allowing for real-time feedback, there is no reason not to provide your employees with regular feedback.

Having a fair and transparent system is also vital if you want to maintain high morale and avoid perceptions of favouritism or bias that could impact on productivity. Facebook carries out 360 peer reviews that are shared with managers and colleagues to guarantee openness and transparency.

Agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere carries out surveys on employee motivation every two weeks. Its HR leaders believe that data on employee motivation is as important as other data sets like financial information or performance figures.

Doing surveys and measuring employee satisfaction are only a part of the process. Performance development essential too, with managers sitting down with workers to discuss areas for improvement, successes since the last review, and the value that the employee feels they are contributing to the organisation.

Interestingly, a Gallup report found that companies with high engagement and retention did surveys regularly. So taking the pulse of your workforce not only keeps you informed but it also helps to boost employee engagement and satisfaction.

3. Offer employees development opportunities and training

With the Millennial mindset increasingly becoming the norm in modern workplaces, HR managers need to offer continual feedback and set short term goals to get the most out of workers. A recent survey found that 55 percent of Millennials weren’t engaged at work and that their productivity suffers as a result. A Millennial culture puts the emphasis on mentoring, career development and collaboration.

Mentoring and supporting employees can help to make staffers feel safe and supported in the workplace, according to another study. It found that structured support systems boosted engagement, which has a positive impact on morale and productivity.

According to the Association of Talent Development, companies that offer employees comprehensive training programmes have a 218 percent higher income per employee than companies that don’t – which speaks to the benefits of empowering and developing your talent pool.

4. Focus on employee wellbeing

Employers and HR leaders can no longer afford to ignore employee wellbeing. The 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study noted that job satisfaction was linked to productivity, financial performance and the quality of output. So productivity is intrinsically tied to employee wellbeing and morale.

It’s no surprise that a happy, motivated employee is more likely to be engaged, productive and cooperative in the workplace. One government report confirmed that employee wellbeing can positively influence an employee’s problem-solving skills, their attitude to work and how they interacted with others.

Yet despite this, CoreHR’s new Smart Talent Expects report found that four in 10 of those surveyed worry about their mental health as a result of work.

Almost half of UK workers say that their workplace doesn’t have anything in place to help reduce employees stress levels or to improve their mental wellbeing, according to the 2018 Workplace Stress Report.

5. Reward and recognition

study looking at over 40 years of motivation surveys found one unifying thing that motivated employees – money. Now that may seem obvious but remuneration is not just about an employee’s weekly wage. It’s also about recognition of their worth, a statement about their value to the organisation and a partial measure of their self-worth. It can also impact on their emotional and familial wellbeing.

Look at incentives or bonuses as a way to supplement employee wages based on performance. Setting goals or challenging employees can help to motivate them by keeping them engaged and by rewarding excellence. Something as simple as praise can also have a surprising impact on employee motivations and productivity.

In his book, ‘Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations’, Dan Ariely recounts an experiment in an Israeli workplace that offered three groups of workers money, a voucher for free pizza or a rare compliment from their boss. At the end of a week, the promise of a compliment turned out to be the biggest motivator in the experiment, followed by the pizza.

review of 50 studies on workplace motivation found that, “people put in more effort when they were intrinsically motivated – that is, if the work itself interested or excited them, and, importantly, if they felt appreciated by their colleagues.”

Ultimately, making your staff feel appreciated and valued will benefit your organisation’s bottom line – and their contentment. It’s a win-win.


7 in 10 of the UK’s ‘smart talent’ employees feel unable to reach their full potential at work. Learn what your Smart Talent Expects from you – download our research report today.


Leigh GogginsBy Leigh Goggins

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