6 creative ways to boost team morale without sounding fake

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Successful companies are more than just productivity and revenue hubs.

These places institutionalize making their workers feel engaged, so they trust and believe in the overall direction of the company. All of this positivity might make it seem like great organizations don’t need to boost team morale—but that’s simply untrue.

Keeping employees engaged and satisfied is still a huge challenge, no matter how successful the business might be. Happy workers are one thing, but employee morale works more like a barometer to measure company communication, culture, and overall job satisfaction.

However, the biggest hurdle to pass is being your team’s biggest cheerleader without coming off as fake or over the top. If you’re not genuinely supportive, you’re going to see a decline in the overall trust.

In fact, the 2020 Breathe HR Culture Economy Report found 57% of employees don’t trust their organizational management or leaders, which has risen 16% in just two years. Employees need trustworthy leaders to be more productive and that’s exactly what we’re here to help you with.

Here are six concepts to boost team morale and show your team you care about their happiness, trust in management, and their overall future:

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1. Keep minds active and creative across your team

Nobody likes doing boring work, so if your team does the same stuff every day, it shouldn't be a surprise their morale has fallen.

Think about the last time your calendar was filled with dull tasks. How did you feel once the day was up? You were probably exhausted. 

Not because the work was hard, but probably it was due to forcing yourself to complete each task. Jon Christiansen, co-founder of Insights and Outcomes, explained that if employees take forever to complete tasks, this could be an early sign of lost motivation.

What’s worse is if employees begin to hold in these emotions, they actually become exhausted both mentally and physically.

You can overcome this by challenging your employees to be creative and get their brains working again. Look at their calendar and try to schedule something more imaginative and challenging for them to tackle. 

If anything, management needs to have clearer communication on what their employees actually enjoy doing. This helps teams reallocate tasks to people who have specific preferences.

2. If someone is doing a good job—tell ‘em!

The simple act of telling someone they are doing a good job can have a massive impact on their morale. 

No, seriously.

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The WorkHuman Research Institute found 92% of employees believe being recognized for their work makes them feel more appreciated, while 85% said they felt more satisfied in their role.

That’s huge.

Furthermore, a Gallup poll found workplace recognition has the power to motivate employees and give a sense of accomplishment when they're working. Telling team members that you have noticed their good work can even lead to an increase in productivity, higher retention rates, and a boost in company loyalty. 

Employees don't necessarily want to be recognized with cash bonuses—sometimes, they would prefer a thank you card instead. In fact, a separate Gallup poll on employee recognition discovered if employees are seeking more money, it’s more than likely that they are already disengaged.

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Instead, many employees would rather choose: 

  • Public recognition: such as awards or even acknowledgment in front of the rest of the team

  • Private recognition: from a manager or fellow team member

  • Personal satisfaction: being recognized for their work was enough

  • Evaluations and reviews: receiving or obtaining a high level of achievement through evaluations or reviews

  • More responsibility: like additional tasks or a promotion 

  • A monetary award: like a pay increase, trip, or prize, also made the list

SnackNation, a healthy snack delivery company, takes employee recognition seriously with its “Crush It Call” team meeting, which recognizes someone who has gone above and beyond over the last week. 

Each employee also shares something they are grateful for, which the company believes boosts positive thinking within their team.

3. Make room for employees to grow

Growth is a serious pain point for today’s employees. If your employees don’t have room to progress at your company, you risk a drop in morale and losing them altogether.

In fact, a Global Workforce Study revealed more than 70% of employees would leave their current organization to further their career. And when it comes to millennials, it isn’t more money or vacation days, it’s all about development and training opportunities.

Global Workforce Report on Millennial priorities Global Workforce Report on Millennial priorities

Offering your team learning resources and development programs shows that you’re willing to invest in them and want them to be better at their jobs. In return, your team will pour their new knowledge back into your company. 

An organization that does this well is HubSpot. The company offers a Leadership Development program to all employees, where they can attend training or join one-week mini-MBA courses to learn from Harvard Business School Professors. 

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HubSpot employees also have access to a free books program and a purpose-built Learn@HubSpot online platform to encourage its team to develop their skills continuously. 

4. Prioritize 1-on-1 meetings

Don’t pat yourself on the back just yet for providing table tennis and free snacks. Employees simply want better connections with management.

A report from 15five found 82% of employees felt more supported in their roles when they had access to 1-on-1 manager meetings compared to those who had fewer interactions. If you’re looking to create high-performance teams, then you must ensure employees feel safe speaking with an open mind or taking risks. 

In team meetings where everybody is vying for their voice to be heard, this can be challenging. But with 1-on-1 sessions, employees are freer to ask questions and share ideas they may have shied away from in a team setting. 

Make time on your calendar for 1-to-1s, whether they’re weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. Anything is better than nothing when it comes to creating a safe space for your team to talk openly.

5. Remember, communication is a 2-way street

Feedback is one of the best tools a company can use to improve, but it's essential for your employee's growth as well. With so many employees wanting to grow and develop (like we discussed earlier), companies need to give feedback to help them. 

An infographic from Blue Beyond Consulting discovered only about a third of employees get the feedback they need to develop and improve within their job role. 

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And what about those who don't get the feedback? Well, this group of employees is 40% more likely to be disengaged at work.

Here at Teamwork.com, we have constant feedback rounds to improve our content creation process. Each time a piece of content goes live, we reflect on what made it great and what to improve on next time.

Feedback can be assigned in our Board View to easily track and manage improvement recommendations. Additionally, Teamwork Spaces works as a great tool to co-manage with team leaders and employees.

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Here you can easily co-edit documents like 1-on-1 meeting notes and keep them accessible across your project management platform.

6. Make sure employees have a life outside of work

Once it’s time for tools down—make sure your team actually puts its tools down. 

If you want to boost team morale, you cannot make employees feel like they’re always on the clock. You may think a text message to an employee on his or her day off or after work hours is harmless, but it draws them back into work mode when their minds are supposed to be on their personal lives.

It’s smart to communicate with your team about work expectations and how you’ll support their work-life balance. Since the pandemic, companies have gotten creative with (non-work) happy hours and trivia nights for their team to blow off some steam. 

If you want to try something different, set up a Netflix watch party and link in your colleagues through Teleparty.

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Or just tell your team to forget about work altogether when they clock off and go and spend quality time with their friends and family. 

When employees aren't working, their brains shouldn't be thinking about it either. Make it clear that your team is in control of their downtime to improve work performance and make employees more engaged when they’re actually working.

Boosting team morale is an ongoing effort and keeping everyone happy is no simple task. However, you likely have a ton of opportunities to increase employee satisfaction with a few simple tips. 

More often than not, your employees just want to be listened to and told they’re doing a good job. If you focus on what really matters—job satisfaction—you can get rid of the meaningless perks and generate a level of morale that lasts.

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