A Guide to Improving Employee Morale on a Tight Budget

5 min read
Jan 3, 2017

boosting workplace morale

Employee morale is closely linked to engagement, satisfaction, and performance. When morale is high, employees love showing up to work every day, believe in the what they do, and are willing to go above and beyond to help the company and their peers meet their goals. When morale is low, employees dread showing up to work every day, can hardly work up the energy to tackle their job responsibilities, and are happy enough to coast by doing the bare minimum.

When morale is low for extended periods of time, at least some employees will almost certainly decide to jump ship and start working somewhere else.

For these reasons, employers should do everything within their power to improve employee morale whenever they notice it’s starting to dip — which it might for any number of reasons. For example, the economy may start tanking, forcing a company to reduce headcount and spread out existing workloads on the plates of the already-overworked employees who remain. Such a scenario could be the “last straw” for employee morale.

The good news is that morale is not static. When morale is low, organizations can take proactive steps to improve it. If money’s not a problem, they can do this by giving people raises, paying for a lavish corporate retreat, or buying everyone a sweet gadget (e.g., an iPad).

Unfortunately, not every company has an infinite amount of resources. If your organization finds itself in such a predicament, you still have a number of options. Here are 10 tactics you can employ to improve employee morale without breaking the bank:


01. Ask your employees for company outing ideas

Coworkers are the number one thing employees like about their jobs, according to our Engagement Report. One of the easiest ways to strengthen team bonds — and by proximity, improve morale — is by investing in team-building activities on a regular basis. Instead of planning excursions on your own, rope your employees into planning discussions and ask what they’d like to do. Who doesn’t like to feel a sense of ownership?


02. Eliminate unnecessary meetings

Our Engagement Report also pointed out that nearly 70% of workers feel there isn’t enough time in the week to get all their work done. If your company is one that holds meetings about meetings, so to speak, it’s time to eliminate a majority of them.

Use collaboration or project management platforms to streamline communication instead. Let your employees reclaim the time they’d otherwise spend in useless meetings, and they won’t feel as overworked.

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03. Allow remote working and flexible schedules

Do your employees really need to show up to work during a fixed period of time every day? Improve morale by letting your employees work when and where they want to work by embracing remote working and flexible schedules. You should see productivity tick up too.


04. Hire for culture fit

We’ve all worked with employees who didn’t pull their weight. It’s not exactly inspiring, to say the least. When adding new employees to the mix, hire for culture fit. That way, you can ensure new hires are on the same page as everyone else and ready to contribute on the first day.


05. Host in-house professional development courses

While many workers value professional development, only 25% of employees believe their organizations offer adequate opportunities for it. You don’t have to pay to send your staffers to a conference. Utilize in-house talent to help your employees learn new skills and grow.

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06. Utilize pulsing surveys

Are your employees on board with a new initiative? The easiest way to find out is asking them directly. Use pulse surveys that enable your workers to respond to your queries quickly and anonymously. That way, they will have an impact on decisions that are made. As a result, your company will be more likely to make the right decisions and morale should improve as employees get more of a sense of ownership.


07. Promote from within

If you’ve ever worked at a company where you thought you were next in line for a promotion only to see someone hired externally to fill the position, you know how demoralizing it can be. Instead of looking outside company walls to fill senior positions, promote your hardworking employees internally. Morale will improve because employees will see that they have a shot at climbing the corporate ladder.


08. Recognize employee efforts

When you work really hard on a project and nobody seems to notice, it’s not exactly encouraging. If your organization hasn’t done so already, make employee recognition a top priority. Thank your employees for their hard work when it’s warranted. They’ll feel good about themselves and will have the energy and motivation to continue working hard knowing they’ll get rewarded for their efforts in the future too.


09. Let workers bring pets to the office

If your office space allows for it, let your employees bring their pets to work (within reason). Morale will almost certainly improve as furry friends add liveliness to the workday. You may not want your workers to bring in their Great Dane or pet snakes, but small dogs and other animals can really help bring out more smiles.


10. Encourage interdepartmental work

Working on the same kind of projects over and over again can get boring quickly. Instead of forcing your employees to stick to their job descriptions and nothing outside of them, encourage them to collaborate with their peers who work in other departments. That way, they’ll get to know new people and learn new skills. This kind of collaboration can also result in new ideas and innovation that otherwise never would have happened. Additionally, allow your employees to pursue pet projects when their schedules allow for it. This will switch up their days and show that management is interested in letting them unlock their full creativity and brainstorm new ideas.

Nobody likes showing up to a depressing office every day. If you notice collective employee morale starting to dip, you need to take steps right away to improve it. Otherwise, you risk alienating your workers and almost forcing them to look for a job elsewhere.

By getting creative and utilizing any combination of the above tactics, you should see morale improve.



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