8 Simple Ways to Boost Employee Morale in 2020

3 Happy people jumping outside in the snow

One of the most important elements of creating a successful and productive work environment is ensuring that employee morale is high. But what exactly does this mean for your workplace, and for deskless workers?

About 80% of the global workforce is comprised of deskless workers, who infiltrate and support the agriculture, education, healthcare, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, transportation, and construction industries. If your business falls into one of these buckets, then this article is specifically for you, and suggests myriad ways you can boost employee morale within your establishment.

What Are the Cause & Effects of Employee Morale

Employee morale has everything to do with the environment of a workplace, and how your employees respond to it. If your employees are satisfied with their work experience, feel valued in their jobs, and are confident that they’re contributing to the success of the business, they will likely feel that their role serves a purpose. Purpose is ultimately a driving factor in motivating employees to work that much harder for the good of your company, and contributes significantly to high morale.

If you suspect your workplace is suffering from low motivation or morale, you must be the catalyst for change. While you can’t make your employees happy at work, they will greatly respond to a manager or boss who encourages regular communication and open dialogue, work-life balance, career growth, and a fun yet challenging atmosphere. Simply keeping these few things in mind will drastically improve conditions in your workplace, and you’ll enjoy the benefits that follow.

Motivated and enthusiastic employees will have a huge impact on your sales, customer satisfaction, employee’s productivity, and business as a whole – and that’s because positive energy is contagious! Keeping your employees satisfied, comfortable, and optimistic about their work will mean better workplace conditions for everyone, and will minimize the risk of employee turnover, which can be highly detrimental to businesses.

It’s obvious why employee morale is so crucial to the success of a business. Now, let’s explore a few of the ways you can ensure your workers are happy with their jobs.

How to Boost Employee Morale

1. Execute a Vision Your Employees Believe In

Whether you’re the owner or manager of a restaurant, gym, hotel, or retail establishment, you probably have a clear vision for the way the business should run. However, over time, that vision might have become diluted, overlooked, or forgotten in the midst of daily business operations, financial considerations, and other logistics that have demanded your attention.

If you’ve managed a successful business over a long period of time, that’s a good indication that people have bought into the initial vision of the establishment – that it’s serving a purpose in your community. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for employee morale and for the business is return to that ideal vision in a deliberate way. If you manage a gym or a rehabilitation center, redirect your focus to restoring the health of your customers. If you manage a small business that caters to a specific industry or hobby, ensure that every decision you make emphasizes the good of that niche.

Think about it: your employees chose to work at your store or restaurant because they like something about it, or believe in your vision. They could’ve earned their paychecks from any other business! Ideally, everyone wants a job that aligns to a greater purpose, so make sure you’re staying true to yours.

In addition to refocusing on the large-scale vision for your business, set your sights on implementing a vision for employees in your workplace, as well. Here’s a short checklist of easy ways to accomplish this:

  • Treat your employees with consistent respect
  • Ensure you’re listening to your employees
  • Make employees feel like they’re an invaluable resource, rather than a dispensable shift worker
  • Provide regular feedback and coaching – employees want a manager who pays attention to their work efforts and cares about their performance.

Using these suggestions as a launch pad, employee morale (and motivation) are sure to improve in your workplace.

2. Communicate Effectively with Your Employees

In business and in our personal lives, one of the biggest causes of conflict and misunderstandings is ineffective (or unclear) communication. To put this into dollar value, miscommunication cost smaller companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year. For bigger companies with over 100,000 employees, inadequate communication between employees cost companies over $62.4 million per year.

Assess your company’s communication with these questions:

  • Do you have an open-door policy, allowing your employees to feel that they can talk to you?
  • Do they feel as comfortable discussing their ideas for business improvement as they do about their weekend plans?
  • Do they see their suggestions being taken seriously, and implemented in some cases?

An employee at your gym might notice that a particular cluster of machines regularly causes floor obstruction to members, or your hostess might have an idea for a new table configuration that will make running orders easier for waiters. Listen to them! Your staff knows your business quite well, and ignoring them makes them feel as though they’re not being heard.

Ultimately: you might be a manager or business proprietor, but you should also be a mentor, partner, and even friend to your employees.

In addition, ensure you have an open-door policy. This will make effective communication much more likely, and lead to a company culture that encourages communication between all employees. Strong communication can even lead to more collaboration among staff, and you know the saying: teamwork makes the dream work! For strong performance, everyone in your business needs to band together and execute, and the odds of this increase with improved communication.

Another point to consider: how great will customer satisfaction be if your employees seem stressed, irritable, or anxious at work? Their mood will affect customer experience, so be sure to establish the kind of working relationship that will enable your employees to approach you with questions, concerns, or suggestions.

*Data sourced from Torch Talk (BBB Business News Solutions).

3.Regularly Measure Employee Satisfaction

You know those customer satisfaction surveys that many businesses feature on their websites? How about distributing an employee satisfaction survey? Administering a short questionnaire to your staff will help you collect feedback about their job satisfaction, the business, your performance, and more. Not only can you reference this information to gauge whether your employees are giving their all at work (hint: if they’re not happy, they’re probably not giving 100% of their effort), but simply administering the survey will remind your employees that you value their opinions and feedback.

Keep your survey short and sweet, but do ask the important questions and encourage employees to answer honestly. A few examples:

  • Do you find your work meaningful?
  • Do you feel valued?
  • Do you feel safe at work?
  • Are you satisfied with intercommunication in the business?

Taking action after reviewing the results of the survey is key. If employees see that you’re taking action about the concerns they’ve cited on their surveys, they’ll know they’re being heard, and that their voice has a purpose.

If you’re reviewing satisfaction surveys and notice that much of your feedback is negative, it’s time to make some quick and deliberate changes. Don’t risk keeping your employees unhappy for an extended amount of time – it’s not fair to them, and it’s not worth the havoc their discontent will wreak on your business. If their concerns center around communication, immediately change your approach to dialogue. If they’re dissatisfied with constantly working double shifts, give them a day off, and avoid scheduling those employees for long shifts in the future. Basically, take immediate action in addressing concerns.

If you receive consistent positive feedback from your employees, that’s great! It means you’re doing something right and your company culture is strong. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be too content with the way things are. Always strive for better – your staff will be sure to notice, and respond to the positive changes you continue to make on their behalf.

To sum it up: evaluating your workers’ satisfaction will enable you to make swift changes for improvement where necessary, and will confirm where you’re already succeeding.

5. Increase Morale Quickly, Wherever Possible

In some cases, changes in the workplace may need to evolve over time, such as increasing funds enough to justify giving your employees a raise. However, if you suspect that employee morale is lacking in your business, there are a few “quick fixes” you can implement on a daily basis to show your workers that you care about them and value them, subsequently boosting their mood and spirits.

Here are a few quick fixes to boost employee morale:

  • Surprise employees with a complimentary, extended lunch
  • Engage staff in real conversation during lulls at work
  • Keep track of employees’ birthdays, and surprise them with a small gift or treat on the big day
  • Remember a few “little things” about each employee’s life (family names, pets, favorite vacation spots, etc.), and they’ll feel appreciated and valued.

At a basic level, even just telling your workers that they’re doing a great job goes a long way toward improving their productivity, as does demonstrating an interest in their career plans and professional growth.

Statistics show that 58% of workers would start at a job with a lower salary if it meant working for a great boss who valued them, proving that employee satisfaction has so much more to do with the way you treat your employees than the paycheck they’re taking home.

Essentially, whatever you can do in the short-term to show your employees that you care will be instrumental in boosting their morale.

6. Avoid Unnecessary Negativity

No one enjoys being lectured or scolded. In fact, being needlessly negative about your employees’ performance will only serve to cultivate an atmosphere of mistrust, anxiety, and decreased motivation in the workplace.

According to a Forbes article that cited statistics from a 2014 Danish study, the majority of people “don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” What does this mean for you?

It means that your workers – and your establishment – will benefit greatly from the attitude that it’s okay to make a mistake or two; that it’s okay if your employees aren’t “on” all the time. Remember that they’re people, too, and many employees genuinely want to do a good job when they come to work. The next time your waiter brings the wrong dish to a table, or the next time your cashier forgets to apply a discount code to someone’s order, remember to take a deep breath before responding, and be charitable.

If you have feedback or suggestions for an employee, be kind – but be firm and transparent. One of the worst things you can do is let an issue fester or spiral out of control, letting it affect both your establishment and your relationship with your staff. Address an issue once, be clear about it, and then don’t harp on it – expect improvement or changes from your employee. This expectation boils down to trust, which needs to work both ways: you should trust that your employees will correct their behavior or performance issues after you address them, and they should be able to trust that you’ll promptly move on from the concern.

If, however, you’re clear with a worker about their performance, and they choose to ignore your feedback (if they are consistently truculent or tardy, they aren’t polite or helpful to customers, etc.), don’t feel that you need to excuse their behavior. Take disciplinary action.

Criticize and discipline as you must, but go easy on the employees you know are doing their best. The result will be a more productive, dedicated staff who cares about you, and about the business.

7. Reap the Benefits of Heightened Workplace Morale

There are some pretty outstanding workplace benefits to keeping workplace morale high. For one, your business can enjoy an increased retention rate (which means more consistency, improved customer service, and less time spent training new staff), increased productivity and teamwork, and employees simply taking more initiative.

McDonald’s is one example of a mega business that has taken steps to improve employee morale and satisfaction. Recently, the fast food chain has begun implementing antiharassment training for its 850,000 workers, mandating the training from cooks to managers. Without the hurdles of bullying or sexist behavior, employees are free to focus on their jobs, and can do so comfortably and safely.

Another great example you might follow: previously, the American Eagle Outfitters clothing brand set up a volunteer program to encourage their employees to give back to their communities. The result? Thousands of employees worked together to reduce litter and plant new foliage in major cities like Pittsburgh and New York, while another volunteer opportunity resulted in aiding with the renovation of a New York elementary school.

Businesses such as these understand that employee engagement – as well as making employees feel that their work has a purpose – is integral to increased workplace morale. People like to work for companies they believe in, and for companies that believe in people.

To boost your own workplace morale, consider setting aside a day or two to encourage employee participation in a volunteer program. The activity doesn’t have to be anything huge, but it should be an event that your employees can get behind to support the community.

Remember that high workplace morale not only affects your workers, but will spill over to customers, as well. When you take the time to invest in your employees’ satisfaction and growth, your entire business will benefit from this simple step toward positivity.

8. Avoid the Pitfalls of Low Morale

On the flipside of cultivating a high morale workplace are the consequences of letting low morale run amok, and affect your business negatively.

Low workplace morale, which can be the direct result of both poor managerial skills and dissatisfaction with a position, might result in consequences such as high turnover, lack of attendance and engagement, and uniformed and apathetic employees. All of these can yield consequences that will wreak havoc on your business, especially if your brand or product hasn’t already been established in the industry.

Ignoring the recommendations in this article is one sure-fire way to decrease employee morale – so take them! Encourage long breaks, keep the doors of communication open, be approachable, freely give recognition and praise, and genuinely care about your employees. Furthermore, it’s important that you avoid overworking employees to reduce the effects of burnout (double shifts should be few and far between).

Ultimately, treat all of your employees fairly and equally, with true concern and consideration. It’s really that simple, and your business stands a better chance of thriving with satisfied workers supporting it.


Your business matters, and your employees are integral to its success! No one can sell your brand or product(s) the way your employees can, apart from yourself – they’re the ones who know your business best. In light of this, it’s extremely important that your entire staff is engaged in their work, dedicated to the purpose of the business and to their roles, and feel that they’re contributing something of value to society. Nothing zaps motivation faster than feeling like there’s no point or purpose to a job.

High employee morale can ultimately do wonders for your workplace, resulting in increased revenue, consistent customer satisfaction, and business referrals from customers who felt they were cared for by your employees. Truly dedicated, considerate workers are few and far between across industries, so if your business can boast a hard-working, driven staff that’s dedicated to improving the customer’s experience, you’ll already be head and shoulders above your competition.

Treat your employees as well as you treat your business, and the rewards of growth, financial gain, and superb reputation will follow!

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