5 ways to boost employee morale (without giving raises)

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As a small business owner, your employees are among your most valuable assets, and creating a culture where they feel engaged and motivated to work hard should be at the top of your priority list.

Employee engagement in the U.S. is on the rise, as a 2018 Gallup report showed 34% of employees feel enthusiastic about their work and committed to their workplace, tying the highest percentage in Gallup’s history. Just 13% of employees feel “actively disengaged” and miserable at work, which is the lowest Gallup has recorded. But despite the hopeful findings, most people – 53% – report feeling “not engaged” at all with no emotional connection to their workplace.

“The vast majority of workers are not engaged,” said Judith Bardwick, author, executive coach and business consultant. “It means they don’t care, but they will keep up face so they don’t lose the position they have or the money they’re getting.”

The profitability of a business, whether small or large, is directly linked to how many people in the organization feel their work is worthwhile and are committed to the company, Bardwick said. If employee morale sinks too low, you risk the threat of disgruntled workers setting out to sabotage the business, she said.

Workplace turnover can also be costly — employers are expected to pay more than $680 billion in turnover costs by 2020.

You may want to give monetary bonuses as a quick way to boost employee morale and engagement, but that rarely has the desired effect, Bardwick said. One-time bonuses and physical gifts of any kind tend to make employees “feel they are being bought and not applauded as an individual,” she said. If people start comparing their gifts, it could create additional tension in the workplace.

Throwing money at a morale problem may not be the best solution. And perks will do little good if an unhealthy work culture is the real culprit. Here are other ways to boost morale in your business — and (most of them) don’t cost a dime.

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1. Encourage open dialogue

5 ways to boost employee morale (without giving raises)

When morale is high in a small business, employees tend to feel comfortable speaking openly to the owner, said Flip Brown, owner of Business Culture Consultants. Employees should feel they can share both positive and negative thoughts about the business with you.

If they think there’s a problem within their team or with the business operations, employees should be able to come directly to you, he said. If they think you don’t want to hear it, they’ll likely begin gossiping with other employees. It may not always be easy to hear what employees have to say, Brown said, but it’s important their voices are heard.

Image Credit: Depositphotos.

2. Establish rapport with employees

5 ways to boost employee morale (without giving raises)

Having casual conversations with employees can go a long way in making them feel valued within the organization, according to Bardwick. You should take some time to get to know each employee, taking an interest in their personal life and their experience at work. You should ask what they think about their work and if they have ideas to share without making them feel like they’re being judged, she said.

Creating a relationship with your employees will also help you to stay in the loop if employees become unhappy and morale starts to slip, Bardwick said.

“Trust is the key to people opening up and being truthful,” she said.

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3. Give individual rewards

5 ways to boost employee morale (without giving raises)

Getting to know your employees would allow you to reward them in meaningful ways. For instance, if an employee has two small children at home, you could offer him or her a flexible schedule or childcare options, Bardwick said.

If you know someone is in a tight financial position at home, a cash bonus may be an appropriate reward in this instance, she said. Knowing employees’ individual needs and wants would help you avoid giving impersonal gifts that may go unappreciated.

Image Credit: Depositphotos.

4. Give praise

5 ways to boost employee morale (without giving raises)

People want praise that they have earned, said Bardwick. Employees want to feel that they’ve earned compliments or acclaim through their efforts, rather than praise that’s generalized and empty.

“Sometimes it’s enough to say, ‘You know, you did a superb job of making those notes into an elegant pamphlet,’” she said.

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5. Bring in outside help

5 ways to boost employee morale (without giving raises)

To assess the morale in your workplace, you could hire a business consultant to gauge how employees feel about the business, said Brown. They may feel more comfortable sharing honest feedback with an impartial third party.

You may find out that employee morale is higher than you expected. But oftentimes, business owners grow distant from their employees over time and there’s a gap between how you think people feel and how they actually feel, he said. A consultant can help you create a strategy to make change within your organization.

This article originally appeared on LendingTree.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Image Credit: Depositphotos.

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