Boost Staff Morale Without Breaking the Bank

Five no-cost ways to boost staff satisfaction.

August 25, 2011

Can’t show staff the money? Show them the love instead.

Although many leaders can afford to reward their employees monetarily for a job well done, they can show staff their appreciation without spending a dime, says author Todd Patkin.

“People will never admit it, but money is not what they desire most from their work. Instead, showing appreciation, respect, and, yes, even love are the three most important ways to make your people feel great about their work,” says Patkin, author of “Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In.”

The best way to improve the company’s bottom line is by having happy, engaged employees, he says.

Patkin offers five “show-me-the-love” strategies employers can use any time without spending a cent:

1. Send “love” notes

Writing and sending thank-you notes is standard practice when receiving a gift. And what better gift can staff offer than a job well done?

When an employee goes above and beyond, or achieves an important goal, send the person a handwritten note conveying your appreciation.

What takes one sheet of paper and five minutes to produce will make a lasting impression on the employee. Plus, it will encourage employees to say “thank you” to co-workers more often, creating a more positive workplace atmosphere.

2. Distribute inspiration

Most employees don’t see work as a place to receive inspiration and rejuvenation during the day. That’s why leaders should aim to buoy their team’s spirit on a daily basis.

If you help staff see the world as a brighter place and improve their attitude, their productivity will increase, too.

Patkin suggests sharing inspirational quotations or stories with staff. “Most people vastly underestimate the power of feeding their minds with inspirational and educational material.”

Next: Tell success stories

3. Tell success stories

Even if they brush off praise or downplay their achievements, everyone loves to be recognized and complimented. When someone in your organization has done something great, tell her you noticed her outstanding work—and tell the rest of the team, too.

Whether correctly or incorrectly, many employees believe their leaders take them for granted and only point out their mistakes. Make it your daily mission to change that perception.

4. Identify stars

Identifying top performers takes the success stories to the next level. Although some employees are skeptical about “employee of the month” programs, no one will turn down the honor.

Instead of singling out just one person, consider recognizing multiple individuals every month, Patkin advises.

5. Make it a family affair

Whenever possible, engage employees’ families when praising them—such as leaving a long, glowing message an employee’s home voicemail.

This will buoy the employee’s performance by the people he or she care about most.

Having a leader validate all the hours each team member spends at work will be remembered far longer than a bonus.

“Showing people love, appreciation, and respect trumps money just about every time when it comes to building long-term motivation and boosting employee morale and loyalty,” Patkin says. “When you take the time to make your employees feel valued, they’ll know that you care about them on a more personal level, and they’ll be much happier at work.

“You have nothing to lose and everything to gain—including an improved bottom line—by making your organization as happy a place to work as possible.”