For any business, employee morale is a big deal. Those who feel valued by the company’s leadership and that their contributions are making a positive difference will naturally enjoy coming to work. When employees genuinely enjoy the atmosphere, they’ll want to succeed and be more productive, leading to higher quality work and greater outcomes for the business. Not to mention, employees will be much more likely to stick around for the long haul when they’re able to thrive in an upbeat and appreciative environment.
Boosting morale is the key to establishing a positive company culture and ensuring that employees don’t feel like mindless drones who just clock in and out every day.
Beyond compensation, there’s a lot your company leadership can do to increase happiness and enthusiasm in the workplace. Keeping morale high doesn’t have to leave a massive dent in your budget either. All you need is some creativity, an understanding of what motivates your employees, and the desire to genuinely show appreciation.
If you’re ready to get creative with your employee engagement and morale strategies, here are four options you can try:
- Ask for Their Feedback
- Create Company T-Shirts
- Train Them to Be More Effective in Their Roles
- Lean into Corporate Social Responsibility
Boosting morale is a no-brainer. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to go about it. Let’s dive into our first low-cost yet super effective option: employee feedback.
Ask for Their Feedback
Just like you regularly provide open and honest feedback on employees’ performance, your company should foster a culture that encourages employees to share feedback for the business. When you start a two-way conversation and listen to employees’ suggestions, they’ll feel like their feedback is a valuable asset, which will help boost morale and increase retention.
You can gather employee feedback through:
- Suggestion boxes. For employees who would like to give their feedback anonymously, suggestion boxes are an accessible way to empower them to do so. These are generally better for smaller suggestions that don’t require much elaboration.
- Surveys. To keep your finger on the pulse of your employees’ feelings, regularly send out feedback surveys through email. Plus, if any team members have larger-scale suggestions, a survey is a great place for them to leave it. On the survey, ask employees what they enjoy about your company, what they’d like to see improved, and how they think that improvement should be handled.
- Company-wide meetings. If multiple employees have the same feedback to give, a company-wide meeting provides the perfect forum for them to present their concerns. Let employees know that the meeting is a judgment-free space where they can air any feedback they might have.
However, it’s not enough to simply collect your employees’ feedback. You need to genuinely think about, respond to, and act on it. After all, a lack of response to employee opinions can lead to resentment, which results in lower morale, increased turnover, inability to recruit effectively, and, potentially, lower productivity and efficiency.
If employees indicate some sort of problem area, your team should do their best to address those concerns in a manner that is beneficial for both employees and the company. After changes have been made, follow up with your employees to demonstrate that you’ve taken their concerns seriously. Share some version of the results and let them know what you’ve done to resolve the problems they’ve elevated.
As employees submit their feedback, you’ll inevitably come across feedback you either can’t act currently or disagree with. Even if that’s the case, be sure to thank your employees for sharing their thoughts with you. Explain why you can’t act on their feedback and let them know that you appreciate the time they took to discuss their concerns. If it would be more relevant to act on their feedback in the future, communicate why it’s a lower priority and set a time to circle back when it makes the most sense.
Create Company T-Shirts
If you want to truly get creative with your employee appreciation efforts, try designing custom t-shirts branded to your company. This strategy can accomplish a ton for all types of businesses:
- Custom t-shirts create a sense of unity among the team. Having something that ties one another together creates a bond between employees and your company. It communicates that your leadership recognizes its employees as a part of the company’s success.
- For smaller businesses, employees can wear them as uniforms. Everyone will look more unified, creating a team-oriented and professional look for the company. As employees work, customers will see them more as professionals, naturally helping them trust your team members to do their jobs well.
- They serve the dual purpose of boosting morale and advertising your company. When you create a trendy design that features your company’s logo and colors, employees might wear their shirts outside office hours. Encourage them to also wear their shirts to company outings and other get-togethers outside of the office.
Sure, it’s great to give free company apparel to employees just because, but to use it to boost morale, you may need to get strategic. For instance, use it as part of an incentive plan and make it a form of recognition each time an employee reaches an important milestone.
Astron Solutions describes this approach as a way “to strategically leverage incentives to drive specific outcomes and align employee actions with your organization’s goals.” Tying fun rewards to specific goals creates a more engaging atmosphere for employees, motivating them to continue adding value to the organization.
This is just one of many ways you can incorporate company t-shirts into your employee retention strategies. Try tying them into various initiatives like a company volunteer day by persuading people to give back to their communities in exchange for a free t-shirt. This encourages employees to get involved in a variety of aspects of the business.
How to Design Company T-Shirts
Never created company apparel before? It’s not as difficult as you might think. There are a few core things you should bear in mind:
- It doesn’t have to be expensive. Cut back on price by going with a minimalist design that limits the number of colors and design elements you use. You don’t have to sacrifice quality for a low price, though. With a custom t-shirt site like Bonfire, you can create comfortable custom t-shirts that your employees are proud to wear. You can even receive discounts for bulk orders.
- Turn it into a group effort. Let your employees in on the fun by inviting them to share their input. Ask for their suggestions regarding the design, colors, and material. They’ll enjoy getting a say, and the final product will be a reflection of their teamwork, making it the ultimate morale booster.
- Make sure it reflects your company’s brand. Above all, your t-shirt will represent your company, so make sure it fully represents your brand. Follow your company’s brand guidelines, and make sure to use your official colors, logos, motto, and any other recognizable elements.
Each time your employees wear their comfortable, branded t-shirts, they’ll be reminded of your company and will be proud to wear it out and about. Whether you’re using it to celebrate an employee anniversary or as an incentive for participating in your corporate social responsibility initiatives, company t-shirts are an effective way to show appreciation and help create a close company culture.
Train Them To Be More Effective in Their Roles
When you bring on a new employee, your company walks them through an onboarding process in which you train them and help them get up and running. What development opportunities do you offer employees post-onboarding, though?
Poor training and a lack of development opportunities can become a serious hindrance to your engagement and morale efforts.
You can practice professional development beyond an employee’s first day by offering ongoing training opportunities. As they go through training, they’ll feel great knowing they’re bettering themselves all thanks to your company. This communicates that your company genuinely cares about their professional and personal development. Plus, those who know what they’re doing will naturally feel more confident in their work.
This complete guide explains that good training opportunities empower employees to enhance their existing skills and acquire new ones to perform better. In turn, they’ll ultimately be happier and more productive and offer a worthwhile return on investment to the company.
Use training as an opportunity to align employees on your company’s goals, turn them into productive employees, and develop valuable soft skills that will transform them into future leaders. Building a learning culture will naturally help them perform better, grow as individuals, and be happier in their roles.
You can easily determine which training opportunities would benefit your team the most. You might take suggestions from employees, analyze performance, or take a look at employee survey results to determine knowledge gaps. For instance, an opinion survey may indicate that there’s a gap in knowledge about the company’s vision, values, and goals.
Whether you provide training through a conference, workshop, or online course, effective training starts from day one. By infusing professional development throughout their employment, you’ll empower employees to continue developing until their final days at your company, ultimately boosting morale and leading to greater company outcomes.
Lean into Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a common practice for all sorts of companies big and small for good reason — they have the power to boost engagement and encourage generosity both in and out of the workplace. When you carefully craft your corporate giving policy, these opportunities are mutually beneficial for everyone involved:
- Companies can improve their public image and support the causes their employees care about.
- Employees can increase their impact on causes they care about thanks to the company’s donations, leading to more fulfilled employees.
- Nonprofits receive monetary and non-monetary support from companies, often in the form of grants and volunteer time.
CSR encompasses more than just donating money to worthy causes. A well-crafted corporate giving policy will align employees’ personal values with the company’s values. In turn, work becomes much more meaningful when employees are able to express their authentic interests and have those interests supported by the company.
360MatchPro’s guide to corporate giving outlines two types of initiatives that have gained a lot of traction and have the power to boost morale in the workplace:
- Matching gifts. This is the most common type of giving program. Whenever an employee donates to a nonprofit, your company will send a check to the nonprofit that matches the donation. Most companies match at a dollar-for-dollar rate, meaning they’ll donate the same amount the employee did. However, some companies offer higher or lower match ratios.
- Volunteer grants. For companies that want to give back in ways beyond monetary value, try implementing a corporate volunteer program. In this type of program, your company will donate a monetary grant to a nonprofit where an employee regularly volunteers. Nonprofits get the dual benefit of your monetary donation and your employees’ time.
Just be sure to fully define your guidelines beforehand. For instance, which nonprofits and employees (e.g. full-time, part-time, retired, etc.) are eligible for these programs? How much do employees have to donate to be eligible for a match from your company? What’s the highest donation your company will match? How long do they have to volunteer to have your company send a grant on their behalf?
Then, communicate these opportunities and guidelines to employees. Otherwise, they may not know if they’re eligible, or worse, they may not recognize that the opportunity exists.
Beyond compensation, there are several ways you can transform your workplace into an enthusiastic and positive atmosphere. It just takes a bit of creativity and a strong understanding of what will motivate your unique group of employees, whether that means handing out custom t-shirts or developing a giving program.
Whether you go with one of these ideas or keep brainstorming with your team, don’t put off boosting morale at your business. Your employees’ happiness should come first, and as a result, your workplace will bustle with excitement as employees enjoy coming into work.
Author: Kevin Penney, CMO & Co-Founder of Bonfire
Kevin Penney has been working in digital media for over ten years. He’s the CMO and co-founder of Bonfire, an online platform that’s reinventing the way people create, sell and purchase custom apparel. He enjoys strategizing, working closely with his team, and hockey, exactly in that order.