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You’re killing staff morale without even realising it, and we can explain how

Staff morale is an insidious crisis. As we’ve pointed out before, up to half of your staff are thinking about leaving. Keeping those employees in your business, and happy to be there, needs to be top priority.

Morale is more than smiling faces and chipper attitudes, though. It’s how your staff approach their work, how they treat each other, and how they see their own place in your company.

But, what you’re doing to hurt morale won’t always be obvious. There are nine ways you could be destroying staff morale without even knowing you’re doing it.

Not giving staff a voice

Workers are only human, and humans need to be heard. Their point of view needs to be considered, and their opinions need to be given weight to keep staff morale high.

If employees think their opinions on their job aren’t wanted, they’ll start to feel undervalued and ignored. Feeling that their point of view doesn’t matter to senior colleagues, morale will quickly spiral. Everyone needs to receive feedback. And leaders must be seen to seek it out.

Not recognising employees

Recognition is the one thing you could start doing today that would improve staff morale. You don’t have to wait for the budget or approval to roll out an employee engagement platform to get started. Even though they do make recognition a much easier task to manage.

Recognition, filtered through your company’s values, shows employees the value and worth of their daily work.

Not talking about the future

When you’re taking a train, you check where it’s going before you hop on. You don’t just hope the train is going somewhere nice, or blindly assume it’s going to the right place.

Staff without any idea where they’re going are like lost passengers who think they’ve got the wrong train. Looking out the windows for landmarks. Asking other passengers where they’re going. And, ultimately, thinking it’s best they hop off the train now before it’s too late to turn back.

Give employees a firm idea of where their company is going. It lets them get invested in the journey, and smooths out the fear that they’re not heading somewhere worthwhile.

Undermining your company values

So, you’re an energetic, agile company on a mission to change the face of central heating repair forever. You believe in integrity, quality and unmatched customer service. But, does your work practice live up to that? Do your leaders? And, crucially, are you both held to account?

If your values aren’t seen to be carried out, they won’t be seen as important to how you do business. It also presents your company’s leadership as two-faced; wanting the benefits of appearing to be values-led without the inconvenience of carrying those values out.

That creates a dysphoria in how your staff see your brand. Employees can’t embrace their work as driven by values if they don’t get to see those values in action.

Letting excellence go unrewarded

Outstanding behaviour doesn’t just deserve to be rewarded, it needs to be rewarded. Don’t miss the opportunity to mark special moments in an employee’s time with your company. We’ve got a whole blog post over here detailing when you need to be breaking out your rewards for staff.

Failing to find purpose

What does your company do? Beyond just revenue, profit and loss. What’s the outcome of your company’s efforts, what’s different in the world when you meet your objectives?

Pouring emotions into work, and taking personal satisfaction from it, means having something to point to when it’s all done. Something more than a graph being bigger than a graph you made earlier.

Purpose gets employees invested in what your company is, and what it does. It creates people loyal not just to their paycheques, but the differences your company makes to the world around them. Long term, that builds real engagement with your business.

Assuming quiet employees are happy

Squeaky wheels get the grease, no news is good news, and so on. As a blanket rule for work, it’s nonsense. Dissatisfaction festers in the shadows, and employees at risk of checking out and looking for another position are likely to go quiet on you.

Unhappy and silent staff have stopped looking at leadership as a way to fix issues. Restoring that relationship means getting them talking again and asking about what’s making them unhappy.

Enforcing inflexible work

Flexibility is one of the most-demanded perks across the country. And for good reason. Time outside work is at a tremendous premium, and the demands of work aren’t easing up either.

To meet the demands of professional life, many employees chip in with their personal time. No shocks for anyone there. However, it’s unreasonable for a company to demand staff give more than their contracted hours every week, but still feel entitled to tell them where all of those hours get spent.

There has to be give and take. Without flexibility, staff will grow frazzled trying to juggle ever-increasing professional and personal stresses. Ultimately, that means looking elsewhere for a more flexible working arrangement.

Stifling job scope

Employees often end up feeling like they’re in a box. In trying to streamline roles and make working processes efficient, what staff actually do can become extremely constrained.

Work becomes a production line of tasks, designed to run at max capacity for eight hours a day. It doesn’t leave much room for creativity or expression. Or any space to gather and express new skills. When staff feel trapped their relationship with their work turns hostile. In turn, that creates a huge drag on morale.

Recognising these problems, and acting to reassess your behaviour as a leader, is how you can turn the tide. Otherwise, poor staff morale only leads to problems with staff retention, productivity and engagement.

Rewarding an employee: 6 times you should step in and break out the rewards

You have to capitalise on the moment to make rewarding employees count. The best time to be there with a reward is when the dopamine rush of achievement is still whizzing through your employee’s brains.

Here are six occasions you need to be recognising and rewarding employees. There’s more to this than just hitting a sales target.

6 situations where you should have a reward in your hand for employees:

Self-improvement

Education and skill-building are vital. Investing in staff builds employee value to your business, and your company’s value to them in turn. Celebrating employees for building their professional skills shows how much your company values self-improvement.

Reward employees for completing courses, passing tests, high achievement on their professional development work, or even for the first project they complete with a recently-learned skill set.

Volunteering for your causes

Social causes bring employees closer to your business, closer to other employees, and closer to your values. Make sure you’re rewarding staff when they use their time outside of work to support charities and causes you hold close.

That might be organising a charity sports event, sorting out charity collections in your offices, or just giving up a bit of time on the weekends.

Helping other employees

A collaborative, constructive environment is a productive environment. Make sure employees are rewarded when they build connections between teams.

That includes staff who train their colleagues, go out of their way to help other employees finish work, help new employees settle in to their role, or deliver valuable leads to their peers.

Moving and improving

The workplace can be improved without overt focus on core job roles. Staff might take responsibility for site safety, lead a health initiative, organise group exercise, provide healthy snacks for the office, or manage a tobacco reduction scheme for their department.

Be sure to reward behaviour that makes for a happier, healthier place for all of your staff to work.

Crushing targets

KPIs, sales targets, and hard numbers are the old reliable for rewards. On one hand, it’s the least imaginative reason to reward your staff, and it really only reinforces and promotes behaviour that produces the cold numbers. On the other hand, every department has to hit their numbers.

It’s still worth rewarding staff for smashing their targets, as long as you don’t fall down the rabbit hole of chasing nothing but the numbers.

Bringing values to life

Living your values in their work. Not always tied directly to a KPI-related outcome, but worth rewarding when they’re making your business closer to its best version of itself.

Your values, and bringing them to life, is a vital component of employee engagement. When staff excel by adhering to your values, be sure to reward them. It shows not just that you value achievement, but that part of achievement is bringing the company’s values to life.

Longevity and milestones

Staff often expect to see some recognition for their long service after just a year with a company. Rewarding staff for their longevity helps create a more intense and lasting connection with your business, increasing the chance they’ll stick to your business.

Make sure to be timely with when rewarding employees to maximise their benefit to your business. Anticipate when staff are going to be full of beans from a recent achievements and swoop in with a reward.

Secret Santa makes Christmas gifts for employees more fun

£15 or less: Secret Santa Christmas gifts for employees

We’re tired of dancing around it: Cash is a garbage employee reward

Cash is a garbage employee reward. It’s been said, it can’t be unsaid. I can, however, explain why we say that.

Cash is sort of like coal

Cash isn’t scarce, so it isn’t special. I’ll use an example to illustrate. Cast your mind back to the days when coal used to get delivered on a lorry. The coal man comes, and because Mrs Smith found Derek the coal man’s lost dog last week, he gives Mrs Smith some extra lumps of coal for the month.

Do you think Mrs Smith is going to treasure those extra bits of coal? Will she put them up on the mantelpiece, fondly remembering that time Derek Mortimer gave her some extra coal? Or, will she say, “thank you, Derek, that’s very kind” and throw them into the pile with all the other lumps?

We both know it’s the latter, and that’s why cash doesn’t work as a reward. Cash for labour is a pre-existing transaction between you and your staff, and handing out extra cash only dilutes that transaction.

Cash is stressful

One of the single greatest sources of stress for everyone is money. This isn’t limited to low-earning employees either; a healthy glut of people earning above £50k a year find themselves in some financial agony every month.

When you reward exclusively with cash, you’re trying to employ one of the greatest sources of stress in modern life as a reward. And, as we pointed out earlier, we’re terrible at dissociating transaction cash from reward cash.

Non-cash employee rewards become trophies

Not every trophy is actually a trophy. Some trophies are memories of a nice meal, some novelty tea towels, new walking boots, a television or a certificate. Non-cash rewards feel “earned,” and become trophies of achievement.

For example, imagine you use a gift card as an employee reward for making a particularly effective promotional deck that wins new business. They use the card to buy themselves a Bluetooth speaker for their kitchen. A friend is over for dinner and says to your employee, “I like that speaker.”

The difference between a trophy and a cash purchase is how your employee responds to that compliment.

If it’s a trophy, “Thanks, I got it through work for winning us new clients.”

But, if it’s a purchase, “Thanks, got it off Amazon.”

If you want your rewards to be impactful, you want your staff to see their rewards as trophies. Trophies can be traced back to individual achievements, driving home the positive emotions and associating work victories with personal joys.

What actually works for employee rewards

Give your employees choice. Let them pick a reward at a corresponding value to their effort. Maintaining a catalogue of rewards in-house is an absurdly complicated task, so it’s best to outsource the effort.

Gift cards, vouchers or online codes are the easiest way to do that. You can easily reward at a cash-value without having to actually use cash, and employees can choose something that makes them happy.

Their items, or experiences, will be easily compartmentalised into trophies because they were earned through work but not purchased through cash.

employee wellbeing and healthy lifestyle choices

Office weight loss contests are rotten for employee wellbeing

long service awards your employees actually want

Forget the carriage clocks: Long service awards gifts your employees actually want

Many companies don’t have an effective long service awards programme. If they even have one at all.

A lot of long service schemes focus on years of service that don’t even feel achievable for new staff. 10, 20 years of service.

And the rewards for long tenure are often underwhelming for employees that do last decades with the same company.

At the same time, employees still expect to see recognition, and earlier than you think.

Most employees anticipate some recognition for long service after just one year of service.

Knowing you need to recognise staff for long service is one thing. Knowing what works as long service award is something else though.

Employees are individuals. They have broad interests and varied personalities. Employers often find themselves at a loss when it comes to finding loyal service awards that actually work.

Instead of trying to find a single catch-all item which you can deploy for any employee, focus on variety and flexibility. Give your staff the chance to choose.

10 GIFT IDEAS FOR LONG SERVICE AWARDS

1. Experiences

Experiences are a thrilling way to celebrate long serving employees. This could include VIP sporting events, supercar experiences, spa days, skydiving or animal encounters.

2. Merchandise

Merchandise is a big tent. It could include your own products, bicycles, tech, hampers, wine, or watches.

The tricky part of choosing to reward with merchandise is getting the item exactly right.

For an effective long service award, you’ll need to have an intimate knowledge of what an employee is interested in. And know what items in that niche would be valuable to them.

3. Letter of thanks

letters of thanks make great long service awardsA letter of appreciation from senior management makes it clear to an employee that their service is noted, welcome, and valued.

While verbal recognition of their longevity in service is important, a physical token can be cherished. It serves as a continual reminder of the employee’s value.

4. Gift vouchers

Paper vouchers remain a massively popular item for our business clients for almost any reward and gift. Easy to buy, easy to give, easy for your staff to understand.

However, their effectiveness as business rewards can dwindle in some situations. When you’re measuring loyalty in decades, there are better options.

5. Gift cards

Gift cardsLove2shop Gift Cards have the advantage of functioning like vouchers without worrying about keeping a massive physical stock of paper.

They offer greater flexibility over vouchers in presentation, and in the amounts you want to reward.

6. Digital reward codes

Digital reward codes are simple and flexible.

While you’re trading off a small amount of the tangibility of vouchers and cards, the choice available is unmatched by other options.

Codes make it simple to issue long service awards to remote workers, or international workers. And you always have the option to back it up with a letter, verbal recognition or a certificate.

7. Cash

It’s natural for staff to ask for cash, and it makes gifts easy, but be wary.

Cash is taxed, and doesn’t feel as prized or special as compared to non-cash gifts. Cash is subject to all the same anxieties and stresses as monthly pay, unlike a special one-off gift.

We always recommend staying with non-cash long service awards.

8. Certificates or plaques

A certificate or award is a good physical token of the value of an employee’s longevity.

Whether they stay in the office or go on the mantelpiece, they’re a constant reminder of the company’s positive attitude towards the employee.

9. Travel

Travel is a great way to reward your valuable and loyal employees for long service.

Send your employee off for a weekend city break or a tranquil country retreat they’ve been thinking about for years.

10. Time off

A sabbatical is a great way to reward your longest-serving employees.

It gives them a chance to take a step back, recharge, and even work on some personal projects.

Alternatively, you could offer your tenured employee the chance to work on an deploying an internal project. Something that would be useful and effective but you struggle to find the time to develop.

Over to you

If your head is swimming, it kind of should be. Maintaining a huge catalogue of long service awards is no fun.

Instead of trying yourself, outsource it. Either let someone else manage a reward catalogue, or buy multi-retailer products so your staff can choose for themselves.