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Boosting employee morale: 5 HR tips

6 min

I once asked my colleague: “have you ever wondered what is it that really makes people happy at work?” He put down his morning coffee and answered smirking: “Yep! Money and even more money” Fair enough – I thought to myself – sounds legit. Yet I wouldn’t be myself if didn’t question that, because I found it just a little bit too obvious.

So, is it really all about money?

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Paying good money for a job well done is important, that’s a given. However, I always felt that one should treat compensation more as a foundation for building a loyal and motivated team. There’s never enough money and we somehow get easily accustomed to our new financial conditions. Try to break the vicious circle of constantly rising salary expectations and you’ll quickly see your employees dropping out the very moment they loose the money bait from their sight.

The conclusion seems pretty evident –  the more money we get, the more money we want. However, what is even more interesting is the fact that with our remunerations getting higher we’re also less likely to get excited with the next raise. The key here is financial stability that allows us to shift our attention from making both ends meet to less materialistic professional goals, such as getting sense of accomplishment, recognition, and work satisfaction.

All in all, money won’t buy your employees’ loyalty. But, you can actually make more money by caring about your staff’s well-being! Did you know that putting your people in good mood can actually raise their productivity? It has been proven by researchers from Warwick University that making people happy increases their efficiency up to 12%. Jackpot!

Got excited? Hold your horses for a moment, because this golden ticket may not be as easy to obtain, as it may seem. First of all, you have to work out what happiness really means to your employees. Don’t get discouraged, ‘cause we aren’t going to dwell here on the intricate philosophical theories defining the meaning of life. I will keep it as simple as possible, sticking to well-defined and approachable ideas.

Happy goes positive

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I found numerous studies that are worth digging into, but I promised to keep my article nice and simple 😉 To not let you down, my fellow readers, I will limit myself to one approach that you may find particularly handy. Ahem, ahem – ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to the Martin Seligman’s PERMA theory.

In his book Flourish, Seligman outlined five factors that are the main constituents of what we experience as happiness (yep, we psychologists do love acronyms):

  • pleasure
  • engagement
  • relationship
  • meaning
  • accomplishment

You may have come across these notions before, if you keep track of latest HR and managerial trends. Not without reason. The strength of Seligman’s theory lies in the fact that it’s applicable in various contexts, including business. Alright, since we know the principles, the time has come to put all that wisdom to practice. You ready? Here we go!

Five ways to increase your company morale

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1. Give them P like pleasure, opportunities, and fun

The Seligman’s definition of pleasure is simple: maximize positive emotions and cut down on negative ones. Easier said than done. However, there a few tips that can make it possible in the work context.

It all begins with a well executed hiring process resulting in recruiting the right people for the right positions. Smart talent allocation along with a flexible career paths will help your employees to not only genuinely enjoy their daily work, but also to make most of their talents.

Another thing worth considering are policies minimizing work stress. There are two areas that require close attention, namely good work organization and stress prevention programs that raise awareness of stress induced risks. (More about work stress you can find in my other post. Click here to learn more.)

Last but not least, we all need to relax and have fun once in a while, even at work 😉

2. Give them E like engagement, flow, and challenge

The PERMA theory says that to feel truly engaged one should seek and undertake activities that allow them to experience ‘flow’ – a state of uninterrupted and effortless involvement. The term had been coined and popularized by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, another positive psychologist whose writings also focus on means of achieving satisfying and happy life.

Since I have already shared with you a post on flow and productivity, I’ll just stick to basics here. Flow is all about pursuing clear cut goals that not only allow people to make use of their actual skills but also help them learn new ones. Don’t forget about the challenge factor. People appreciate facing moderately difficult goals, since nothing brings us down more than boredom at work or tasks that are just beyond our capabilities.

3. Give them R like relationship, communication, and work-life balance

We are social beings, we have a need for strong and healthy relationships – it’s something that we have coded in our DNA. That is why one should remember that employees’ happiness is not only a matter of the well coping individual, but also a well functioning group. There are many to ways to facilitate your team work, but one of the fundaments is honest and transparent communication. Share and accept both the good and the bad (to a degree, of course), and make sure that feedback always works both ways.

Considering the fact that the most valuable relationships are those that we build and nurture after the working hours, one should also mind the importance of a well balanced professional and private life. To lead happy lives both within and outside a corporation, your employees need to have enough time to spend and cherish quality time spent with their family and friends.

4. Give them M like meaning, influence, and the bigger picture

Happy companies are humble. Their culture emphasizes the importance of each and every employee in the building, success is subsequently perceived and then acclaimed as a common goal. This commonness is not only all about the frequent communication regarding company strategies. It is also about work ethics based on joint effort and shared responsibility. Want to make your team feel happy? Let them be heard, appreciate their input, and help them to bring an actual change within the organization they are a part of.

5. Give them A like accomplishment, appraisal, and mastery

Since happy employees have the sense that their actions yield effects that contribute to the overall success of the company, managers should not underestimate the power of positive feedback. One should not deter from giving out a good word for a job that deserves positive appraisal. The reason behind this is simple. Knowing that we are heading in a good direction boosts our motivation to achieve more and helps us to build self-confidence indispensable to acquire true mastery – poetic, I know.

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Well, that’s all I’ve got for you in this post. A starter guide, a simple 101, a short 411, if you will. Got any interesting after-thoughts or experiences to share? feel free to drop a line or two in the comments below. Cheers!