Improving staff morale

Many businesses have gone through, or are still experiencing, a period of job cuts and those more fortunate are perhaps, at best, looking at zero to one per cent pay increases for staff in the short term.

For businesses to survive in these times it is vital to engage people and bolster morale. Without the commitment of staff, businesses stand little chance of recovering quickly.

So what measures may help?

1. Communication: Keep your staff up-to-date with how the business is performing; help them to understand the pressures facing the business and the part they can play in supporting you through difficult times. Failing to communicate effectively with your staff can promote rumours and unnecessary insecurities which in turn creates turnover (generally your most talented employees) and stress. Be honest and be honest frequently!

2. Review benefits: Consider if you are providing benefits in the most tax efficient manner for both the business and the employee. The implementation of a salary sacrifice scheme, for example, can provide significant savings elsewhere, such as in increased pension contributions and childcare vouchers. Other options providing increased flexibility and work/life balance opportunities include giving staff the option to buy or sell holidays.

3. Review remuneration: In the absence of any pay increase consider a discretionary bonus scheme based on financial performance – this gives your staff the opportunity to earn additional pay while managing your risk efficiently. Keep it simple though.

4. Be flexible and open to ideas: Ask staff what motivates them, but be specific. An open-ended question, such as ‘what motivates you?’, may be met with a blank stare. Instead ask employees to rate different aspects of their job, such as teamwork, variety and autonomy, and concentrate your efforts on what they rate highly. Listen to what they say and provide feedback. Remember money is only one piece of the jigsaw

5. Empower staff: Sharing issues with your staff and encouraging them to provide solutions can be motivating and encourages ownership over any changes that may be required.

6. Celebrate success and effort: When times are difficult it is easy to focus on things that are not working and not see the good work being done by staff. Recognising good work, and giving praise where due, costs the business nothing.

Tina Clayton
HR consultant
Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors