5 ways to boost company morale in an economic downturn

5 ways to boost company morale in an economic downturn

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SALT LAKE CITY -- There are practically as many tips to keep workers happy as there are business analysts who suggest them.

Let employees go online

Some analysts say there are online tools that some companies may not be taking advantage of. For instance, Manage Knowledge LLC President Doug Brockbank says companies that allow their employees to blog see higher morale, even if online marketing isn't really that employee's job.

"Don't give away the store - only a piece of it. Blog about what's going on inside the company, ask for feedback on product ideas, and share some knowledge - for free - that you might otherwise have charged for. This will build your reputation as you earn the respect and love of your customers. And then they'll know who to call when they are in the market for the product or service you do sell," he says.

He says blogging gives employees a voice they may not have felt they had before.

Involve employees in special projects

Bringing employees out of their typical work day can shake things up in the office. Brockbank says asking employees to engage in special projects shows you trust them enough to make good work decisions, and if they happen to go outside of what their normal job description mandates, don't panic.

"This idea that you kind of keep your head down and go to work and lock yourself in the office is not the way work is done anymore," Brockbank explains.

Give them something to believe in

You've seen organizations that align their product or service with something they deem to be a worthy cause. For example, yogurt maker Yoplait frequently has a promotion where people can collect lid tops, and the company will donate a certain amount of money for breast cancer research for each top turned in. This is an example of cause marketing.

Alden Keene and Associates Owner Paul Jones says organizations that engage in cause marketing have more loyal employees.

"Employees want to believe in something [like] the greater good. They want to believe in something bigger than just themselves or their own company," he says.

Jones says he's seen studies where loyal employees feel more emotionally satisfied. This leads to higher productivity and increased revenues.

Get their opinions

Many people might say, if they were in charge, things would be run differently. So, ask them what they would do if they were in charge. Asking people on the lower levels of the company to help form the group's overall goals shows employees they have value.

David Sandberg with Strategic Planning for Business says, "As your employees start to [get to] their next level of how they're going to contribute to these goals, you find they get excited about it. Bosses are impressed with their knowledge."

Sandberg says people on the front lines who deal with customers may have a better idea of what the company needs to improve, anyway. Also, when an employee shows creativity in solving a problem, it's important that employee be rewarded and recognized in front of other workers.

Learn how to communicate, especially when rejecting an idea

It could be easy for an employee to feel their insight doesn't matter when they bring an issue to their supervisor and no action is taken. This could be a tricky balancing act for employers who want to keep their workers happy but may not feel the suggested action is best for the company. Sandberg says proper communication can keep an employee from feeling like they have little value.

"If you, as a boss, aren't really communicating why we're not implementing it at this time, employees will feel like, ‘You don't listen.' They'll stop contributing," Sandberg says.

Sandberg says some firms hold company parties or picnics to bring morale up. He believes these events do boost spirits, but only temporarily.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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