Whether big, small, new or established, employee morale plays a crucial role in the success of any business. Company’s that promote an atmosphere that both supports employees and rewards productive behavior guarantee they are obtaining maximum productivity from the individuals they employ. By utilizing a few simple techniques to ensure employees feel appreciated and incentivized to work, a company can guarantee employee “buy-in” and a positive work environment.
The first step to developing a positive work atmosphere is to ensure employees understand their role within the company. When I began my first position as a manager, I was surprised by the level of time I had to commit to employee dissatisfaction. It seemed that every week there was a new problem associated with a company directive. I spent a sizeable amount of my time fielding these complaints and ensuring they did not spiral into a bigger problem. I soon realized that there was a larger issue behind many of these disputes-the company’s approach to employee relations produced a detrimental environment that promoted dissatisfaction and stratification.
Instead of framing company directives in a manner that made employees feel in opposition to them, I made sure they understood their overall role and importance to the company’s mission. Employees understood how new directives benefited the business and how their participation was crucial to the company’s success. Clear communication about the mission of the company helped clear up a sizeable amount of the dissatisfaction and combativeness by employees to new directives.
However, not all employee morale problems are due to poor communication. Often, companies simply do not provide rewards for productive employees. Generating incentives based on performance promotes not only hard work but also a sense of pride in one’s work. As a supervisor, I take time to send out weekly emails highlighting my employees’ success. To ensure the emails do not demoralize those not recognized, I also feature my employees’ birthdays and work anniversaries. Taking time to recognize employees allows for a sense of community to evolve that promotes unity and production.
Many employees need space to vent their frustrations about company directives. By promoting a work atmosphere that champions open communication, problems can be addressed before they develop into something more serious. During my weekly sessions with employees, I made sure to allow a period of time for them to vent their frustrations about the company direction or my supervisory style. Not only did this technique allow for employee problems to be brought to the forefront, but it also helped me make sure I was doing all I could to produce a suitable work environment for my staff. Simply put, allotting time for employee complaints ensures a positive work environment where employees feel heard and respected.
Employee relations also have a profound effect on the morale of a work environment. Office disputes can often derail productivity if not handled in an appropriate manner. Ensuring a workplace atmosphere that promotes unity and teamwork can go a long way in stopping interpersonal disputes between coworkers.
Promoting teamwork and tasks that bring coworkers together is a great way to deter against disputes. When employees learn from one another and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and are less likely perceive one another in antagonistic manner. I often team employees up based on their comparable characteristics to not only ensure they balance one another but also the importance of teamwork and cooperation.
Every once in awhile, a dispute between two employees develops that needs to be addressed. Approaching this situation is often tricky and difficult. Depending on the severity of the situation, having one on one meetings or a joint meeting can clear up the issue. It is vital to remain objective during these discussions and not to allow favoritism to develop. I try to base my findings on facts, rather than hearsay or rumors. By remaining objective, I can ensure not only a fair outcome but also position myself as a reasonable and honest supervisor.
However, sometimes these discussions may become heated-the topic may be something very personal to the employees involved. It is vital to remain in control of the conversation and ensure it does get out of hand. In my own experience, I have found it helpful to try to understand whether the argument or dispute developed due to a misunderstanding or a more serious infraction. If it is the latter, I can make a more justified and objective decision for disciplinary action if necessary.
Ensuring employee morale is a process that not only requires clear communication from company leadership but also the ability for supervisors to deal with employee disputes in a fair and objective manner. Being proactive when disputes develop, having great communication skills and promoting a workplace environment that allows employees to speak their minds can ensure the workplace does not become a negative, unproductive atmosphere. It takes a long time to develop these skills as a supervisor. Do not be afraid to try different methods or utilize different techniques. Only through developing a diverse set of skills can a manager ensure a positive workplace environment that supports productive employees, rather than deters them.