How to Improve Employee Morale in a Bad Economy (cont’d)

How to Improve Employee Morale (cont’d)

By Brittany Thompson

This should not be underestimated, as top performers generally realize their own worth and know that, even in a tough economy, they stand a better-than-average chance of finding another job. 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 usually the first to see the customers, often dealing with them face-to-face in person. Unfortunately, they are also usually the lowest-paid. Because studies have shown that people associate more money with happiness, this also means front-line employees often run the risk of becoming unhappy with their jobs and even quitting to pursue other options. If your front line employees are unhappy, are they going to provide top-quality customer service? Probably not. ”

Customers will drive further and pay more for better services or cheaper pricing,” Gostick says. The key to employee retention is making your employees happy. Certainly, some idealism comes into play, but the theory itself is a good one and boosting employee morale can never be bad for business. In fact, Gostick states in his book that employees who are praised and/or rewarded regularly “focus better on company goals. They spot new opportunities faster. They have longer employment life spans.” The book even offers ideas for managers who are looking for new ways to praise, recognize and reward employees. No wonder, then, that it quickly became a bestseller on both the Wall Street Journal and Business Week lists. Some of the most notable tips:

  • Remember to thank people who’ve influenced you. This too often gets overlooked. Don’t just promote front line employee morale; promote it on all levels of your company.
  • Bring out the star inside your fellow employees. Publicly reward when appropriate – and observe the change it brings in attitudes and performance.
  • Make a formal event out of recognition. Have a ceremony at least once a year to publicly praise top performers and make them stars. This also gives employees something to work towards throughout the year.
  • Keep track of what your employees like – or dislike. This doesn’t just mean their feelings about the work environment. It can also help you think of creative ways to reward them. Get on a more personal level with your reward ideas by asking them what motivates them. You could even do an anonymous (or not) written survey of all employees for prize ideas. If possible, tailor your rewards to each specific person you’re honoring. They’ll appreciate the personal touch, while knowing you were 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 upper 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 boosts morale, team rapport, and takes some of the weight off your shoulders so you can focus on other important management duties. Just make sure you aren’t relying on your employees to provide 100% of the recognition. Most of it should still start with you! Ask anybody who has a masters in management, never underestimate the power of recognition. It is extremely important in the business world. Without it, you could actually lose employees.

Top performers are the most capable of leaving because they have the very skills that other employers are searching for – and they KNOW it! Fail to show your top performers how valued they are and they may leave you for another opportunity, should one arise. However, if an employee is truly happy with his or her surroundings, or feels respected and appreciated in the workplace, he or she might settle for less pay or a longer commute just for those feelings of value. To further illustrate this point, Gostick shared a story about his recent experience traveling in China. During his trip, he met a young Chinese girl who spoke a little bit of English.

Deciding to strike up a conversation with her, he asked: “Have you ever been to America?” The girl replied that not only had she never visited the United States, but she had never even left her hometown. Understandably amazed, Gostick decided to probe further by asking: “Why have you never left this city? Don’t you want to see the rest of the world?” “If I’m happy here,” the girl answered without hesitation, “why would I ever want to leave?” It sounds like businesses could learn a lot from this story.

About the Author: Brittany Thompson is the owner of Pixels and Media LLC. Based in Lexington, Kentucky, Pixels and Media LLC provides award-winning and affordable graphic and web design, web development, SEO, web marketing and social media strategy services to a variety of businesses. For your free quote, visit

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