During stressful times your staff morale may suffer. Your Associates may be worried about their jobs or just making ends meet. You may have to cut back hours or you may decide to bring back fewer seasonal people and that puts a burden on your team.
Morale is critical in your business. When every individual is doing the work of two or three, his or her to-do list seems endless and it’s easy to become too task oriented. This takes the focus off of customers and negatively impacts the business.
When morale is low, it spreads quickly throughout the facility. It is often projected on the customers who feel the tension and won’t stay to explore. The fallout can be considerable: Decreased sales, lack of productivity, disorganization, distraction, more time spent gossiping and complaining among co-workers, increased accidents, employee theft and employee turnover.
On the positive side, as you make the effort to boost morale you will increase productivity and create a motivational environment where everyone will look forward to coming to work every day.
6 Warning Signs Of Low Morale
Be aware of the signs of low morale. Most of these signs are nonverbal so you want to be watching for them. Since 85 percent of our communication is nonverbal, this is a key influence in your work environment. Any one of these signs is an indicator that the morale needs a boost.
- Increased absenteeism (callouts, illnesses, no shows)
- Excessive complaining over small matters (parking, lunch breaks, weather)
- Employee conflicts or gossip (verbal and nonverbal negativity)
- Poor communication with management and team (no eye contact, unwillingness, shut down or shut off)
- Zombie employees (lack of energy or enthusiasm, just getting by)
- Poor work quality (having to re-do work, incomplete)
The worst thing to do is ignore the signs. Avoidance only accelerates the issues.
How To Boost Morale
Here are seven tips on how you can improve morale daily.
1. Morale starts at the top. Employees take emotional and attitudinal cues and clues from you. It starts with your nonverbal communication – your smiling facial expression, eye contact, posture, clothing, actions, keeping promises, communicating, etc. Make conscious, continual efforts to play a constructive role in addressing staff needs and cultivating cooperation. Choose a positive attitude and keep a smile on your face. Walk your talk. Reframe every challenge as a learning opportunity.
Improvement Tips: Create an achievable, meaningful goal for yourself. Make sure it is specific and “toward” motivation, rather than “away from.”
For example, a “toward” motivator would be: I intend to position the team to increase sales by 10 percent this month and I will do whatever it takes to make that happen. In contrast, an “away from” motivator would be: “I don’t want to lose my business, so I will work extra hard.”
Keep the goal posted where you can see it every day. And invite your management team to take you aside and prompt you if your attitude or demeanor starts to slip.
2. Create a common goal with the entire team.
A team isn’t a team unless they share a common goal. Show your team that you are on board to make things happen and you are all in this together. Since the mind is a goal machine make sure the whole team participates in setting something achievable and meaningful. Maybe you have heard this before – the best goals are S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
Improvement tips: Conduct daily huddles with staff members to give them updates on the team’s progress and to set the day’s goal as a team. Take three minutes for brainstorming new strategies for creating merchandise packages, providing captivating demonstrations, practicing service skills or for practicing product knowledge. For example, “We are 2% ahead of our sales goal this week so all day let’s do a ‘just so you know . . . ‘ and tell every customer about the newest product.”
3. Place a priority on ongoing communication.
Good communication and clear expectations are essential for high morale. Everyone wants to be in the loop. Show your team that you trust and respect their need to know about issues affecting the business, and in turn, their livelihoods. Be as transparent as you can without creating more doubts or concerns. Let them know you are all in this together and that you encourage their input and ideas. When they know what is expected, employees feel important, tend to perform better and are more productive.
4. Keep the focus on serving customers and consistently praise service behavior.
Customers are always your first priority. We want to shift any self-absorbed behavior to all out customer service. Have everyone leave personal issues at home. When they provide great customer service, show them you appreciate their efforts. One little “thank you” makes a big difference. When offering praise, make sure it is TRUE: Timely, Responsive, Unconditional and Enthusiastic. It is more powerful if you point out the specific behavior they did that you want to have repeated.
Improvement tips: Share positive feedback with employees. When customers make positive comments about their team experiences or with a particular staff member, share them immediately with the staff. Establish a ‘High 5’ reward and recognition program using a colored paper handprint with the person’s name and the service behavior they demonstrated or the customer compliment that was heard. Encourage everyone to recognize other staff members for exhibiting each of the service standards. The person with the most High 5s for the month can receive a token gift or become eligible for a random drawing for an additional reward.
5. Encourage skill development and training.
Every staff member is important to the success of the business. They need to develop more skills as they take on more responsibility. Have them identify areas that could be improved. Implement cross-training and mentoring programs to help improve flow and overall operations. Take the time to check out the staff on their skills and encourage them to continue learning. Improvement tips: If you don’t have a structured on-the-job training system, call Profitivity.
6. Work hard, play hard
Everyone likes to have fun – and happy people have high morale. Take time out of the work schedule for the team to interact and have fun on a regular basis.
Improvement tips: Hold one-day challenges where they tackle important projects and complete them in record time. Establish an employee appreciation week with different activities each day. Celebrate reaching a goal and/or acknowledge the staff’s collective efforts with a special staff breakfast or lunch.
7. Remain alert to the morale factor
Morale changes, sometimes daily. Stay in touch with day-to-day events and watch for changes in morale.
The Pay Off
No one action can turn around morale, but little things can add up to a positive result.
High morale can seem like an abstract and elusive concept, but it’s vital to the health and competitiveness of your business. Help your employees stay motivated and innovative by walking your talk, setting team goals, recognizing achievements, showing appreciation and promoting teamwork. When you achieve your goals you can look back and see this as the best learning experience for everyone.