The More You Talk About Morale, the Worse It Is

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Nov 4, 2016

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, once said, “The best morale exist when you never hear the word mentioned. When you hear a lot of talk about it, it’s usually lousy.”

In other words, when an organization talks ad nauseum about morale to employees, it’s usually a sign that no meaningful actions are being taken to address it. This happens all too often, and there’s really no excuse, since morale is arguably the one aspect of employee engagement that management has the most control over.

Getting it right

O Great One! (OGO) CEO and author David Novak recently shared his results from a survey on employee morale with Harvard Business Review. 82% of employed Americans feel that their supervisors don’t recognize them enough for their contributions, and 40% say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often, showing once again that employee recognition is the simplest way to boost morale in the workplace.

But the trick with recognition is getting it right, and Novak shares some excellent tips for doing so:

Make recognition as fun as possible. Take your business seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Over the years I’ve given out rubber chickens and plastic chattering teeth to recognize exceptional contributions. Which do you think people are more likely to display and tell their friends about — a rubber chicken or a fancy pen?

Make it personal. Another interesting point from the OGO research: 76% of people save handwritten thank you notes. A customized, thoughtful gift will have a bigger impact than something mass-produced, regardless of the price tag.

Make it timely. Don’t wait for monthly meetings or annual performance reviews. The OGO survey respondents reported an average of 50 days since they last felt recognized in any way at work. That’s way too long. Good things are happening all around you; notice them and seize any opportunity to acknowledge them.

These are just a few great tips to keep in your back pocket while you’re trying to create recognition opportunities throughout the day. We highly encourage you to check out Novak’s entire report with his complete list of suggestions.

Recognize someone

Recognition is easy when you consider it as simple acts of kindness. If you want good work out of employees then you’ve got to be kind to them. Keep spreading the good vibes and they will reverberate back to you. It’s just physics. So get out there and recognize someone today!

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.
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