With the pressure of deadlines and the stresses of the modern workplace, morale and productivity levels will sometimes wane, even in the most professional of teams. This is natural and to be expected – but it can be tricky for managers to handle, especially when you have your own targets and deadlines to meet. Here are nine tried and tested ways to boost morale without breaking the bank.

1. Treat them to lunch

Buying your team lunch is a great way to lift morale and improve group dynamics. You can turn this into a monthly treat and keep people engaged by voting on where to go. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but a free lunch on a Friday will always make people smile and create an opportunity for your team to bond outside of a work context.

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2. Give praise

We all like praise for a job well done, and taking the time to give sincere and genuine thanks to a staff member will always be appreciated. This might mean thanking everyone at a team meeting or praising a specific team member. Just remember that not everyone likes being singled out in public, so tailor your means of delivery to make employees feel appreciated and show you empathise with them on a personal level.

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3. Train one, train all

Providing people with the opportunity to attend an external training course is a great means of stimulating your team. It changes things up and shows that you are prepared to invest in their development. However, training doesn’t have to be an expensive qualification to be valuable. It might be a matter of setting aside an afternoon to participate in a webinar, a conference or even to watch TED talk videos.

If an employee expresses an interest in a particular area of professional development, let them know they can keep an eye out for training opportunities. After the training, encourage them to outline what they've learnt to the rest of your team to build leadership and communication.

4. Have Friday afternoon fun

Work does not have to feel like work all the time, and every hardworking team needs a little downtime. Once a month, on a Friday afternoon, is often a great time to do something different that keeps people motivated for the following month.

This might mean the occasional early mark, going bowling or having a few drinks. You can even do a monthly ‘awards’ event with novelty prizes to acknowledge a job well done.

5. Give additional responsibility when needed

Learn to recognise when a member of your team wants and is ready for additional responsibility. Motivated people often crave opportunities for development, as it’s stimulating and helps with their career progression.

An easy way to add responsibility and improve your team is to set up mentoring relationships. These allow your employees to share their strengths and improve their individual skillset, while strengthening the overall abilities of your team and their relationships.

6. Upgrade job titles when needed

It costs nothing to change someone's title, but it may mean a great deal to them personally and the way that they are perceived in the workplace. If someone has started to take on more responsibilities in the workplace, this may be a good transition to seeing if they are ready for a promotion.

7. Demonstrate integrity every day

Nothing undermines team morale and cohesion faster than a boss whom no one trusts. As a manager, it is your responsibility to resist the natural urge to have personal preferences in your team and be even-handed and fair. You must be prepared to demonstrate integrity and stand up for your staff at times – but accept that you’re ultimately accountable for their successes and failures.

8. Be flexible and gracious

Sometimes staff members may have to take time off unexpectedly. Try to be gracious and accommodating about such requests, and find a solution that can work for both of you. For example, if they need to be at home to supervise a delivery or a sick child, they might be able to complete some work while they wait. In return for this flexibility, staff will be more productive and hard-working.

9. Provide clear goals

People need clear goals for the short and medium-term at work. Do your best to provide those objectives and steer your team towards meeting them – showing how their work as individuals and as a team has relevance and importance to the organisation’s overall objectives.

You can filter an awareness of business objectives throughout everything you do, from setting tasks and explaining how they relate to the bigger picture, to having regular scheduled check-ins to see how they’re going with their individual goals and if there’s anything you can do to make their goals easier to achieve or more manageable.

For more management advice, visit the Michael Page management advice section.

Summary

Making sure that employees are motivated doesn’t necessarily mean lavish lunches or expensive gifts. Here’s how to keep up morale on a budget:

  • Take them out for an affordable team lunch
  • Give them public praise
  • Have Friday afternoon fun
  • Improve job titles when needed
  • Provide clear goals 
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