How to Boost Employee Morale….Without Breaking the Bank
Engagement is important, yet your employees might already have one foot out the door mentally. According to the “State of the American Workplace” study by Gallup, 70 percent of the workforce isn’t engaged in their current position. This explains why a 2012 study found 74 percent of employees are actively looking for a new job or are open to new opportunities.
If you can’t engage employees, those talented workers will be out the door the first chance they get. The cost of employee turnover averages about double an employee’s salary, so it’s not exactly a cost you can afford to keep shelling out each time a disengaged worker leaves for greener pastures.
One of the problems is too many companies assume you need the budget of Google or Facebook in order to keep the best people. If you can’t afford an organic juice bar or nap pods, why even try, right? You couldn’t be more wrong — and the success of your business hinges on getting back in touch with your employees.
So how do you boost morale on a budget? Here are a few ways to get your employees engaged again:
A Stitch in Time Saves Rehiring
The old saying, “A stitch in time saves nine” is just as important to hiring as it is to making a really nice scarf. If you hire the right people with sincere passion, you’ll have to worry less about a lack of engagement. The ugly truth is that 46 percent of small business new hires fail within the first 18 months, and in 89 percent of cases, this is because of a company culture mismatch.
So before you hire the great candidate with the stellar resume, take a second to ensure this person would actually enjoy coming into the office every morning. Skills are important, but you can always train for specific abilities. The ability to fit into the company and the passion to care about your mission statement are intangibles you just can’t teach.
Never Stop Challenging
Employees don’t like to be complacent and they certainly don’t feel any accomplishment from doing the same old boring tasks day in and day out. This explains why a global study of employee engagement by AON found access to increased career opportunities was the number one driver of employee engagement.
Employees want a challenge and they want to keep learning. This doesn’t mean piling work on top of employees, since this only leads to more stress and health issues. Instead, a new challenge could be anything from offering an interesting project to promoting professional development training initiatives. Spending a bit of your budget on training your employees is a smart way to save in the long run, as your employees gain more high-quality skills and bring more ROI to your organization.
Don’t Make Your Goals A Secret
How are employees supposed to be engaged by the company’s mission statement if they don’t even know what it is? This might seem extreme, but numbers back up the fact many employees don’t even know what they’re working toward. One study found only 40 percent of the employees surveyed knew the corporation’s goals, strategies, and tactics. It’s hard to be engaged if you have no idea what broader goals your hard work is achieving.
The fix for this engagement problem is simple communication. Make sure to make communicating goals and strategies a big priority when dealing with your workforce. Don’t just tell employees what they need to do, tell them why they need to do it. This will show employees in a more concrete fashion how their parts fit into the whole of the company. It will help them pinpoint how their individual contributions help the company to succeed.
Recognize and Reward
Speaking of individual contributions — recognizing and rewarding hard work costs zero dollars and can really pay off with more engaged and positive employees. In fact, 43 percent of highly engaged employees received feedback at least once a week, according to a Towers Watson study.
Giving employees feedback ties into clearly communicating goals and strategies. If an employee is working hard and coming up with great innovative ideas for your company, you need to recognize these contributions. It could be something as simple as a “well done” at a meeting to something more substantial like added perks.
Feedback is important not only to your superstar employees, but to your workers who find themselves floundering a bit on the job. If given in a helpful and nonjudgmental fashion, feedback will allow them to focus on the aspects of their job performance that need improvement.
Engagement doesn’t have to be a drag! Get employees involved in fun activities both in and outside the office. This could be anything your workforce is interested in, from after-work drinks to in-office parties, or even healthy initiatives like a daily walk or yoga break. Find out what would make work a little more fun for your employees and implement these cheap, easy fixes into your company culture.
Employee engagement can mean the difference between success and failure for your company. Even without a big budget, however, you can still implement little changes through clear communication and smarter hiring decisions, which will lead to higher morale and increased engagement.
What do you think? What are some ways you improve employee engagement on the cheap? Share in the comments!
About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.