Summer is over, and for most small business owners, that means the slow season is coming to a close and it’s time to get back to work with renewed enthusiasm. With Labor Day (a holiday created to honor working people) just past, it’s also a good time to sit down and take a look at the state of your small business’s work force.
Is your staff as enthusiastic about your business as you are? In other words, how is their morale?
What are some signs your team might be suffering from low morale? Hopefully you’re in tune with your team enough to spot the red flags right away. Frequent sick days or absenteeism, employees dragging in late to work, lack of energy or spirit in meetings, whispered conversations that end quickly when you come into view—all of these can be signs of lagging morale.
Unlike engagement, which occurs on an individual level, morale is more of a group thing. One employee with low morale can quickly infect others, spreading the doldrums across an entire department—or company.
If your employees’ morale is suffering, here are some ways to pep it up again:
An oblivious boss is a common cause of low morale. Even a normally attentive entrepreneur can get sidetracked by stress, deadlines or other demands. If you’ve been locked away in your office (or out of the office altogether on business trips for weeks at a time) you can easily miss the warning signs that can fester into real problems.
Make it a point to get out and mingle with your team or, if you absolutely can’t, give a trusted partner or employee the task of monitoring mood and reporting back to you.
As much as we entrepreneurs love our businesses, sometimes our morale suffers from long hours, business setbacks or personal issues. Before you starting fixing your employees’ outlook, check your own morale to make sure you’re not communicating a negative attitude to your employees.
If you’re less than pumped about your business right now, figure out how to get your mojo back.
It’s been my experience that the number-one cause of poor morale is failure to communicate effectively. When employees don’t know what’s going on, rumors fly and moods plummet. Even if you’ve got nothing but bad news for your team, sharing it honestly is better than hiding it or sugar-coating it. Let them know what’s going on and that you’re all in it together.
Who knows? Fighting together to overcome the odds just might be exactly what your team needs for their morale to soar.
Make It Fun
You and your employees probably spend more time together than you do with your families and friends. If those 8 (or 12) hours a day aren’t fun, morale’s going to suffer – and even in the dullest of industries, there’s room to create fun.
Take a cue from the high-tech industry and pep up your team’s spirits with group activities that build team spirit. Don’t just force an event on your staff—pick something that fits naturally with what your employees like to do, whether that’s a bake-off, an Ultimate Frisbee tournament or a Friday afternoon beer bash.
How do you keep morale high in your small business?
Happy Business Team Photo via Shutterstock
This was such a great post Rieva. In the start-up race we often talk about learning how to hire a staff in order to delegate responsibilities… in order to grow our business even larger. But not much focus is usually given as to how to manage that staff, especially in regards to morale issues.
If your employees aren’t happy, productivity collapses – period.
Thanks Jake. I am a firm believer that without a great team, it’s so much harder (nearly impossible) to grow a scalable company.