There are countless things that go into the relative success or failure of a business. There are marketing considerations, input sourcing, assembly processes, training issues, and countless other areas where the right decisions can make all the difference–and so can the wrong decisions.
But there are factors that influence things at every level of your operation, and the most common one is employee morale. It’s a fragile but incredibly important thing that can make or break you in several different ways.
Good morale does more for your business than you may realize. People who feel enthused and positive about work are more productive. They have higher energy and a greater pride in what they do. They’re also more creative. When their energy is directed into simply tolerating the day’s requirements, they’re not innovating, improving, or streamlining the way they could be.
And perhaps most important, happy employees stay with you. With everything else held equal, workers will gravitate toward the employer with the better culture, and sometimes will do so for less money.
So it’s clear that good morale is beneficial. But the question remains: How do we build morale? It can be tough; the costs can be immediate while the benefits can be delayed or even difficult to detect. Just take a leap of faith and work on morale, and you’ll see benefits in several areas.
Breaking Up The Mundane
People love to focus on the end product. They like to see items come off the assembly line or out of the oven. They don’t want to get bogged down in a bunch of administrative stuff. One of the best things going in aerospace manufacturing in mexico is that many of the companies are letting an outside company take care of their administration, allowing them to focus on the core mission of the company: Building airplanes.
Look for opportunities to do likewise. Find a way to keep a high percentage of your employees directly attached to the final product, and they’ll be happier and more productive. You will also avoid the leakage of negativity from frustrated and bored employees who handle administration.
People want to be heard. Whether it’s at a political rally or the dinner table, we all want others to know how we feel about things. The workplace is no different. No matter how brilliant and innovative we may feel in management, some great ideas will come from the hands and feet that are really getting things done.
You need to provide a respectful and meaningful conduit for their contributions, and when someone offers something, you should recognize it even if it isn’t practical. Educate them about why an idea that sounds awesome to them won’t work, and make sure to emphasize that you like the way they are thinking. Those who feel their ideas are accepted, or at least that they’re only rejected with good reason, will continue to flex their creative muscles.
Call this the “casual Friday” rule. The more chance people have to be loose about things that don’t matter a whole lot, the more cooperative they’ll be when they have to be tight about things that do matter.
Employees get frustrated with endless regulations and rules, with working in a place that’s plastered with ALWAYS and NEVER signs. Sometimes they want to relax just a little bit, and the better you do at providing those opportunities, the happier they’ll be.
Consider a bank. It’s a serious workplace, where the employees handle your hard-earned money. Their staff understands how important it is to follow procedures at all times, but if they can get a chance to ditch the business dress and show up in an embroidered bank polo with a pair of jeans, they get a chance to blow off a little uptightness.
Morale is at once powerful and fragile. It can make your business thrive, but you have to foster it to get it.