Creative Tips for Positive Company Culture and Morale
The age-old idiom “you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar” is a good one to keep in mind as you strive to foster a positive company culture and morale—and for a couple of reasons. Of course “honey” in the workplace, metaphorically speaking, is much more than just the cute little bear-shaped container next to the coffee pot. Rather, honey is perks and incentives that remind your team to value what they instinctively crave anyway—workplace kindness, respect, and camaraderie that make the office feel like a second home employees will not likely want to leave.
And just as with the proverbial fly, human beings respond much, much better to positive incentives than to vinegar-like negatives. And to further the metaphor, nothing is more apt a symbol than vinegar for a poor workplace morale that’s acrid, bitter and corrosive. So here are some tips for creating a climate that centers around incentive, reward, and many more positives to keep staff aware of the power of getting along.
Many companies have a so-called open-door policy to encourage workers to talk to management about any and all problems. Still, employees may resist going to management with their problems, especially when an employee knows deep down a problem is fleeting or insignificant. But these same employees might nevertheless suffer from a loss of productivity because they are truly upset. A confidential venting process—where venting is seen as important more in terms of the process of releasing frustration than the content of what is vented—could benefit many companies.
A larger company might even want to hire a professional psychologist who, when needed, can step in as a confidential and impartial listener trained to turn a short venting session into an opportunity for increased productivity. Employees who are very upset typically vent to one another, which often results in confidentiality breaches and hurt feelings, as well as a toxic office environment rife with gossip.
And although employees sometimes do, quite justifiably, vent to management, this can nevertheless be an ineffective use of management’s time. If an impartial professional is on hand, one who understands the benefits of properly handled venting—and the problems that can arise when the venting process is mishandled—much valuable work time can be salvaged and even made more productive. Venting appropriately can also help an employee decide, with a clear head, whether a situation does warrant talking to management—an advantage which could conceivably result in lower employee turnover.
Many companies have programs in place to acknowledge staff for exceptional work—employee-of-the-month rewards, in the form of prime parking spots, for example. But there can be other, less formal ways to thank employees for their service. One of the most overlooked of these is, quite often, simply saying “thank you.” Never underestimate these powerful words and their effect on company moral. Whether it’s said by one employee to another, or by a manager to someone lower in rank, a sincere thanks lets staff know they are valued.
Some companies even encourage the posting of written thank-you’s for everyone to read, on a break-room bulletin board, for example, and supply a pre-printed form to fill in with details of exemplary situations and attitudes. Thus employees feel appreciated—and morale is boosted—in a more wide-spread way than with simple one-on-one thank-you’s.
What’s more, at those times when a reprimand is truly in order, it can always be preceded by a thank-you or two, for good balance. Chances are that any suggestion for betterment will be more likely heeded when it follows an acknowledgement of things that have been done right.
The Power of Language
Monikers of equality are popular these days. Modern employees are often called owners, associates, teams—anything that reflects the respect that any healthy company should have for the people who make it work. And thus the potential inherent in positive terminology becomes evident.
Indeed, the best way to consistently, and even subconsciously, boost morale is to employ positive language. If there is something you want to prohibit or discourage, try stating it in a positive way. This takes power away from the negative and places the emphasis on what you do want rather than what you don’t.
What’s more, you can even create in-house buzzwords to repetitively drive home positive messages. Come up with something catchy, something clever, that will stick in employees’ minds as reminders of what’s important. The potential within these types of phrases is limitless for promoting everything from camaraderie to customer service, from safety to sales. And repetition is key—your goal is to embed these positive messages in the minds of your staff, whether through frequent staff emails, eye-catching signage, or even T-shirts!
Most companies offer benefits packages that include everything from employee discounts to 401k plans, but executives might well remember, too, that the nature of a perk can have an immediate effect on productivity and morale. Specifically, perks that make staff feel invested in the welfare of the firm give employees cause to feel a part of a team that will go the extra mile.
But, while perks like stock-ownership options are great, the rewards can often be long-term and not equally available to everyone. Many companies have done well offering bonus incentives that reflect the monthly or quarterly financial success of the firm. These rewards are more immediately tangible, and when the strategies for achieving them are clearly laid out, employees will always have a personal investment in company success.
Or, speaking of immediate rewards, don’t forget the small, morale-boosting perks like free, midmorning fresh-fruit snacks, or free sandwich buffets on holidays or to commemorate important milestones. A little goes a long way, especially when employees feel like they’re saving some money here and there.
And don’t be afraid to originate a creative perk system that doesn’t cost the company anything—such as an employee-stocked “free table,” where staff can contribute unneeded, like-new items in good, working condition, and in turn take something they do need from the table. Such programs help employees feel bonded through helping one another—and people always feel good when they get something for free!
So go ahead—try some creative ideas to enhance your company culture and morale. And, to find out how office design might fit into your plans, please don’t hesitate to contact us!