23/05/2014

By Tim Stone, EMEA Vice President of Marketing, Polycom

Keeping up morale is mission critical for employers – if they don’t pay attention to staff satisfaction, they may have to deal with the disruption caused by losing employees, as well as the headache of having to find fresh talent.
As well as being key to retaining a strong team, paying attention to morale is a good way to keep employees loyal and productive.

Here are five tips on how to get it right.

1. Promote the message of a healthy work/life balance

There’s nothing more effective than speaking plainly to your team about the benefits of a healthy work/life balance. Foster an open culture, and let employees know you’re there to listen to any concerns about unmanageable workloads and pressing deadlines. Set clear priorities, too – often, people work themselves into the ground because they wrongly believe everything is urgent.

Lead by example – take lunch away from your desk, leave work at a reasonable hour and make time for hobbies outside work. If you do this, you’ll appreciate the effects a good work/life balance can have on morale and productivity, and will be more convincing when you foster it amongst your team.

2. Nuture talent and interests with access to courses outside the workplace

It’s natural to focus on your employees’ work responsibilities. You’re a manager, after all! Every now and then, it can help to remind yourself – and your staff – that what they do outside the office is just as important as their work.

At Polycom, we subsidise employees that wish to take language courses or develop a new skill through further education. Think about how your benefits package can encourage a healthy work/life balance – perhaps you could introduce a similar scheme, or sponsor gym memberships and team activities as an alternative.

3. Introduce flexible working

Flexible working is becoming ubiquitous, and for good reason – technology is evolving all the time to make it an increasingly legitimate, appealing choice. The good news for a healthy work/life balance is that this way of working cuts the need for a lengthy commute and allows workers to flex around family responsibilities and personal hobbies.

Many people have busy lives and personal commitments outside of work, and this is where flexible working really comes into its own. For those with children, for instance, it means being able to take kids to and from school or keeping an eye on them when they’re unwell, flexing working hours as needed.

If you’re worried about introducing flexible work because of reduced collaboration and team cohesion, think again. Virtual meetings and instant messaging mean teams can continue to work together as though in the same building. Focus on making every interaction count, and this will ensure remote workers feel part of the team – regular video calls and virtual team meetings are another way to eradicate any feeling of isolation.

4. Separate work from play

Stress can creep into the working day when employees don’t feel they can take a moment for themselves and reflect between tasks. Encourage staff to take tea or coffee away from their desks to break up the day into reasonable spurts of concentration – you’ll find it helps staff work more productively when they sit down again to work.

When introducing flexible working, encourage employees to dedicate a specific part of their house to work – that way, they can step away from work at the end of the day, keeping it from bleeding into periods of relaxation.

5. Support employees in their home lives

Personal issues can have a serious effect on workplace morale. Make time for employees that need guidance, but be aware that some issues call for external help. Cases of bereavement, ill health or divorce are just some scenarios in which you might consider subsidising professional courses of counselling.

If you can show employees you respect their family commitments, you’re more likely to retain top talent when children arrive on the scene. If your work can’t offer a crèche, think about supporting initiatives like childcare vouchers. Of course, it’s not only parents that have obligations outside the workplace. Employees supporting elderly parents, for instance, could benefit hugely from flexible work, so be sure to promote the option to those it could benefit.

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