One goal at the top of any company’s list is to keep workplace morale high. After all, a happy employee is more likely to do his or her job well, and is less inclined to leave for greener – or happier – pastures. So how do you go about improving your employees’ job satisfaction?
It seems that for every morale-boosting option out there, there are ten people who will tell you their option is better. Do you establish an incentive or reward system? Hire a motivational speaker? Increase salaries? Well, although these types of extrinsic motivators are good ways to inspire your workers and express appreciation for their efforts, the reality is that workplace morale is far more the result of employee job satisfaction than it is the byproduct of any system or speaker. Job satisfaction is not the result of rewards that come from outside sources – it’s an inside job.
“What does lead to high morale is an intrinsically rewarding work experience: a work experience where employees feel respected, valued, and appreciated; a work experience where employees get to be players and not just hired hands,” says work-related behavior expert David Lee. “With such a work experience, employees don’t need to be bribed, they don’t have to be plied with goodies to make them want to come to work and do their best.”
The good news for employers is that there are many things you can do to nurture these internalized perceptions that lead to job satisfaction for employees, resulting in improved workplace morale for all. Here are a few tips and strategies you can implement to provide an environment where intrinsic motivation can flourish.
Management experts across the board agree that one sure-fire way to ensure the deep-seated job satisfaction that results in high levels of intrinsically motivated morale is to acknowledge employees’ value as team members in your organization.
Michael Johnson, Assistant General Manager for Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Palm Desert, California, agrees: “We’ve found that morale is higher when employees have a sense of ownership.”
So, how do you cultivate that team spirit? Industry experts will offer a variety of suggestions, ranging from suggestion systems and work teams to ongoing employee-supervisor conversations about daily operations and long-term vision. But Johnson says their restaurant has found that the most effective way to nurture a sense of ownership among staff is through good old-fashioned courtesy: “We treat our employees with dignity and respect.”
Indeed, research backs up a growing awareness that job satisfaction is more greatly impacted by respect, value, and appreciation than it is by any other factor. Bruce L. Katcher, an employee opinions specialist and president of Discovery Surveys, recommends such direct means as immediate positive feedback and recognition for a job well done as methods for communicating these critical validations to your employees.
Another way to acknowledge employee value is by providing relevant training. Roger E. Herman, workplace trends expert and founder of The Herman Group, found that employees were more likely to cite career-related growth opportunities than the size of the paycheck as a reason to stay with a company.
If you wait to improve employee morale until after you notice a problem, then you’ve put it off too long. Morale-boosting efforts should be part of the workplace culture, resulting in a climate that fosters all of these elements – a sense of ownership among staff, validation and appreciation for quality work, and employee growth opportunities – on an ongoing basis.
Renee Verhage, Assistant General Manager at the CopperLeaf Hotel in Appleton, Wisconsin, says their FISH! training sessions go a long way toward building employee enthusiasm and morale: “It’s time-intensive to put together, but well worth the effort.” Inspired by the teamwork and exemplary customer service of fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Washington, the FISH! philosophy uses four principles – playing and having fun, being in the moment, making someone’s day, and choosing your attitude every moment of every day – to build a sense of camaraderie among staff members. And, says Verhage, it works: “Everyone always asks, ‘When’s our next FISH! meeting?’”
Improved workplace morale may be an inside job… but implementing some of the tips and strategies offered in the preceding paragraphs will give savvy employers the inside edge on keeping their employees – and hotel or restaurant – happy.