Boosting staff morale

Editorial Team

4 min read
Cafe employee

In the mad rush to keep orders filled, bills paid, and customers happy, it’s easy to forget about employees. As long as they show up and do the job, all is well, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always true. People working the frontline directly impact the bottom line. And if morale is low, the business will suffer.

For one thing, disheartened employees are more likely to leave, creating a financial drain. Hiring and training a new employee costs about one-third their annual salary, according to a 2017 report from Employee Benefit News. That means that if you are replacing an employee with an annual salary of $45K, the cost to you, in addition to salary, will be about $15,000. Another problem is that low morale can lead to disengagement and subpar customer interactions, which no small business owner can afford.

Remember that low employee morale also places a risk on your privacy and security. Like many technology companies, we work hard to ensure security on all of our devices and services, but data is only as secure as the intentions of those who have access to it. Keeping your staff motivated and engaged can lower the risk of theft and dishonesty among your team.

As a business owner, it is on you to tune into employees and read their moods. Are they energized and giving their best? Have inertia and discontent seeped into the workplace? Maybe stressful conditions—long hours, demanding clients, or a seasonal rush—have put a damper on employees’ attitudes.

One strategy is to redirect established customer satisfaction tactics toward employees. Just like ongoing loyalty-boosting programs, programs that lift employee spirits are easy to fold into the regular workday.

Here are three ways you can show your employees how much you appreciate them:

1. Use monetary and non-monetary rewards to build loyalty.

Do you reward loyal customers with discounts, free items, or special privileges? Then do the same for a loyal team! The more experienced employees are, the more valuable they become, so reward them with financial perks such as incremental raises, end-of-year bonuses, or extra vacation days.

Similarly, paying higher-than-market wages can boost productivity and enhance morale. Scott Shane, a Case Western Reserve University professor, notes that “When companies pay more than the prevailing wage, their employees tend to work harder and are less likely to quit.”

If financial incentives are too difficult, nonmonetary incentives can work just as well. Publicly recognizing a job well done, bringing in lunch for the team, and other simple gestures make people feel their work is appreciated.

2. Listen to staff concerns and resolve conflicts fairly.

When a customer comes with a problem, savvy business owners know to stop, listen, and resolve the issue. The customer’s needs and concerns are top priority, no matter how small or even irrational the requests might be.

What if you extended that same focus and priority to employees when they come to you with their concerns? When people know they can share problems—be heard and understood—a culture of trust develops.

One of the most common complaints employees have is friction with peers. Rather than ignoring it (which is a natural response), you should treat conflict as an opportunity to learn and improve the workplace environment.

Through active listening, you can glean information to bring people together, find common ground, encourage compromise, and set boundaries to prevent future problems. In the long run, conflict resolution is far easier than doing nothing and letting simmering tensions eat away at morale.

3. Find reasons to celebrate.

Holidays are great opportunities to reach out to customers and attract them to a business. Special menus, offers, seasonal decorations—these efforts spark positive feelings and foster loyalty.

In the same way, you can create a festive atmosphere for your staff, and build bonds and loyalty. Additionally, keep track of birthdays, major events in employees’ lives, and other ways to celebrate the people who share the amazing, challenging, never-ending experience of running a small business.


Employee turnover is a costly endeavor that can quickly eat away at your profits. Instead of resigning yourself to these expenses, think about investing in your staff on an ongoing basis. Acting on the tips above can go a long way towards keeping morale high among your team.

[image: Coffee Roasting at Ipsento Coffee Shop in Bucktown by David Hilowitz on flickr]
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