How to Improve Employee Morale in a Bad Economy

How to Improve Employee Morale in a Bad Economy

By Brittany Thompson

According to a recent Time magazine study, approximately 80% of people feel disrespected at work. In today’s economy, it’s increasingly difficult to find jobs – but it’s also very important to maintain employee happiness in order to maximize the efficiency of the company in

Employee recognition is key to morale.

preparation for long-term success. A few years ago, I attended a private leadership training seminar in Louisville, Kentucky, held 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’ve ever seen. He runs the websites and along with his business partner Chester Elton. The two travel the world speaking publicly and offering advice for implementing greater standards of employee recognition 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 just how difficult it can be to maintain a positive attitude sometimes.

Negativity is contagious and once it sinks into the corporate environment, it can spread like wildfire. So how do we combat it? With recognition, he says. An animated, witty presenter with a contagious sense of optimism, Gostick recommended praising efforts of employees who are attempting to improve their own performance, and actually rewarding them when those efforts bring measured results. Recognition is a huge factor in boosting employee morale. If you feel that your employees could use a fresh breath of positivity, try personal or symbolic recognition, or positive re-enforcement of good behaviors.

PERSONAL RECOGNITION Personal recognition is exactly what it sounds like: recognition for a job well done. It can be in the form of a “great job” or a pat on the back. Sometimes, it could go a step further and emerge as a thank you card passed from a grateful boss to an employee who just went above and beyond. These types of recognition are almost always welcome – and can put a smile on someone’s face for the rest of the day. SYMBOLIC RECOGNITION Of course, in order to be effective, you want to avoid overkill. Too much of a good thing can become redundant or seem insincere. If you are constantly praising your employees, your words may lose their meaning. Employees may come to expect praise, and view it as less of a “reward” – or, even worse, feel hurt when you forget to praise them for doing what they consider to be a good job. Make sure you praise frequently, 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 praise. Personal recognition is highly effective, but symbolic recognition can also be very helpful. Symbolic recognition involves going a step further and rewarding an employee with something other than just words, a smile, a handshake, or a friendly pat on the back. Symbolic recognition is often tangible, and involves gifts or prizes. I’ve seen companies provide everything from plaques to an employee’s favorite food, or even something as simple as a stress ball or bracelets. If you really want to make the employee feel special (and if it’s within your company’s budget to do so) a personalized trophy could be awarded to a top performer to proudly display on his or her desk.

Now that we’ve discussed a few ways to recognize top performers, let’s examine how to be effective in our recognition. In order for recognition to be successful, Adrian Gostick says 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 to boost morale once a day. The theory here is, if you continuously 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.

Check back Thursday for the rest of the article.

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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