By Vivian Giang
As workplaces undergo dramatic transformations, leaders must learn to manage in an entirely different way. To lift morale, leadership must be flexible and innovative.
"When employee morale is high, productivity rises. When employee morale is low, it's hard to retain the best and brightest workers," says Morgan Norman, founder and CEO of WorkSimple, a social performance management platform.
"The foundation of strong employee morale is communication -- that means collaboration, feedback and recognition."
Norman provided us with some easy ways employers can increase happiness - which can eventually lead to an overall improvement in the business -- for their workers.
1. Be clear and transparent.
Employees need to feel as though they can discuss everything with their bosses -- even the negative news.
"If your employees aren't aware of organizational news, team shakeups, and how they need to operate, don't throw it in their face when they are going in the wrong direction. Be clear and transparent with what you expect from them."
2. Know how they work.
As a manager it's your job to make sure everyone on your team is being as productive as possible, even if you have to treat everyone a little bit differently to do so. The more effective you are at flexing your managing style, the more effectively your employees will carry out their assignments.
"If an employee works better in groups or with flexible work schedules, encourage this behavior. If they are the loner type, that's okay, too. Don't force them to change how they perform; it's essentially ingrained in them and will likely backfire and decrease their morale. Adjust to them."
3. Offer real-time feedback.
Instead of yearly reviews, employees now want feedback and they want it often -- especially the younger workers.
"Offering employees real-time feedback helps them with their individual goals. This gives employees the answers they need now, rather then later. Don't wait till yearly or quarterly performance reviews to offer advice and direction."
"By the time those roll around, that feedback doesn't really matter anymore since it's probably old news."
4. Encourage strengths.
If you have a star performer who's great at hands-on presentations, don't have them only work on preliminary research.
"This isn't what they're good at and it's not what will make them the happiest."
If employees are doing work they're passionate about, the output will more likely be positive. Encourage their unique strengths. Push your employees and use their skills to your advantage.
5. Let them take the reins.
It may be in your nature to micromanage, but sometimes employees want to be the ones in control, so don't stand over their shoulders all the time.
This doesn't help them grow and certainly doesn't boost morale.
Encourage your workers to come up with their own ideas and support their creative endeavors. You can even take it one step further and create leadership development programs where your younger workers aren't just being told what to do, but they're also being trained to move beyond their job descriptions.
6. Offer incentives.
This can be anything from working half-days, parking spaces, free lunches, or even working from home.
"It stimulates employees to perform better, while at the same time helping them feel appreciated by the organization."
7. Give them room to grow.
One of the key ways to increase morality is to make sure your employees understand their chances in upward mobility.
"This doesn't have to be a new job title or more money. It could mean more responsibility, leadership, access to new resources and industry events. This can help them grow professionally since they are doing new and interesting things, while at the same time decreasing frustration and unhappiness due to boredom."
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