For business owners, hiring and retaining good employees is always a challenge. But in today’s highly competitive job market, the task of keeping your workforce engaged and productive is harder than ever.
After a disruptive few years following the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more working Americans find themselves dissatisfied with their current job. In fact, a recent poll from Monster.com found that an astounding 96% of workers are looking for a new position in 2023! Meanwhile, the company also reports that 9 out of 10 employers say they’re struggling to fill positions.
With these trends in mind, your business needs a solid recruitment and retention strategy. And many experts agree that improving employee morale and engagement is the best place to start.
Why? Because not only does employee engagement improve long-term retention, but disengaged employees are estimated to cost the U.S. up to $600 billion in lost productivity each year.
To help your business attract and retain the best people, here are 9 tips to boost employee morale.
Offer Competitive Benefits
Every employee wants to feel like their contribution is valued. So whether you manage a staff of hundreds or are hiring your first employee, offering a competitive compensation and benefits package is one of the most important ways to attract top-performing talent to your organization.
At the most basic level, this means offering a base pay that reflects the current realities of your local job market. According to Monster, 46% of workers expect a higher salary this year due to inflation and the higher cost of living. If your company’s wages aren’t keeping up with the market, don’t be surprised if employees start job hunting.
Beyond a competitive annual salary, employees also place a high value on benefits like health insurance, paid time off and retirement contributions. For small businesses, the cost of these benefits can add up quickly. But you may recoup some of that expense in the form of reduced employee turnover.
After taking a look at your current pay and benefits, don’t forget to publish the details in an employee handbook. This written documentation can help your employees understand the ins and outs of your benefits package – along with what’s expected of them as members of your team.
Promote Work-Life Balance
Another shift that employers are noticing following the COVID-19 pandemic is a higher value placed on work-life balance by employees. To help boost employee morale, your business may want to consider allowing employees to work from home, if possible. A growing number of small businesses are also adopting a hybrid work model – one where employees split their time between working from home and working onsite at a company-owned location.
If remote work options aren’t realistic for your business, there are still things you can do to promote a better work-life balance for your staff. Offering more flexible schedules or comp time is a great way to acknowledge that employees have a life outside of work, allowing them to make time for friends, family commitments and personal interests. And drawing clear lines between work and home life can be done by discouraging off-hours calls and emails.
As a business owner, establishing clear lines of communication with your employees is another great way to improve morale and engagement. According to a Slack study on the future of work, 80% of workers want to know more about how decisions are made in their organization, and 87% want their company to be transparent.
Transparency builds trust between employees and an employer. So when you create an environment where your team members feel free to ask questions – and can receive honest answers – you’ll be more likely to earn their loyalty and commitment.
Ask For Feedback
Speaking of transparency, never underestimate the importance of regularly asking your employees for feedback. All too often, business owners only seek out feedback during exit interviews – after an employee has already decided to leave your company. Using this approach, you’re missing out on tons of valuable insights that can help you improve morale and engagement.
Create a company culture that’s focused on continuous improvement by routinely creating opportunities for employee feedback. To accomplish this, consider using a combination of internal surveys, employee review sessions and company-wide meetings. Ask your staff about why they choose to stay at your company and what they would change to make life better. Then, use the insights you gain to create a better work environment.
Support Wellness Initiatives
In a recent report from Workhuman and Gallup, employee wellness was found to play a role in reduced levels of burnout, better social wellbeing, higher levels of belonging and an increased feeling of thriving. For that reason, many employers are starting to pay more attention to employee wellness – including the physical, emotional, mental, financial and social wellbeing of their team.
When you think about it, it makes sense that you can improve morale and productivity by helping your employees make their lives better outside of work. So get creative in thinking of new ways to promote wellness. That could mean offering perks like a free gym membership to incentivize physical activity or enrolling in an employee assistance program to offer mental and emotional health support.
Show Your Appreciation
Sometimes, even small gestures can make a big impact on employee morale. And there are plenty of ways to show your appreciation for a job well done.
Take time to celebrate special achievements like meeting sales goals, landing a new client or earning a great customer review. Recognition can come in many forms – whether it’s a small gift, a handwritten note or an email to your staff.
And don’t ignore those business “Hallmark holidays” like Administrative Professionals Day, Employee Appreciation Day or Fun at Work Day. While they’re not always widely celebrated, they present a great opportunity to show your gratitude, improve morale and foster creativity. Injecting fun into your workplace can have positive effects by bringing everyone together. Consider themed food days, games, crafts, awards, etc.
Prioritize Team Building
When you work a full-time job, it can feel like you spend as much time with your coworkers as you do with your own family. So investing in building good relationships at work is an easy way to help improve morale.
As an employer, consider hosting regular team-building events to bring your employees closer together. This could be as simple as scheduling an after-work happy hour, or planning a fun activity for your staff to do together like an “escape room” event, putt-putt or visiting a local museum. Be creative and ask your employees for ideas, too.
And if your business employs remote workers, consider bringing them in for in-person meetings once or twice a year. You’ll find face-to-face interactions will help build stronger bonds than a video conference.
Offer Performance-Based Incentives
If you’re looking to improve morale and boost productivity at the same time, consider offering performance-based incentives to your employees. You can do this by tying raises to employee performance reviews, or by creating a profit-sharing structure that offers bonuses based on your company’s financial performance.
These types of merit-based incentives can keep morale strong – while incentivizing your highest-performing employees to stay with your business for the long haul.
Promote From Within
The next time you have an open management position, take a good hard look at your internal candidates before opting for an outside hire. The truth is, everyone likes to see hard work get recognized and rewarded. Hiring from within sends a message to your employees – letting them know that it’s possible to build a career at your company.
If you anticipate a skills gap, look for ways to bridge it by offering training or professional development opportunities. Investing in the education and growth of your employees will not only boost morale. It can also result in reduced onboarding costs and increased retention rates.
As a business owner, you care about your employees. While you’re looking out for them, our team at Erie Insurance is working hard for you – with business insurance that’s tailored to your unique needs. To learn more about how we can help protect everything you’ve built, contact us today.