6 effective strategies to boost employee morale in 2021

2020 was a tough year for everyone – including your staff.

Between managing a new work-life balance, adjusting to remote work, and adapting to an ever-changing ‘new normal’, workplace morale (and employee motivation) took some serious hits.

2021 holds the potential to be better as long as you take proactive steps to keep team morale and employee engagement high.

The importance of high employee morale

High morale means that job satisfaction is good, the work environment is welcoming, employees have a positive attitude, and that company culture you work so hard to build and maintain can really shine through. 

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On the other hand, low morale can have a hugely negative impact – for your workers, and your business.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Increase in lateness/absenteeism – employees being less punctual and reliable is a big indicator that their motivation is slipping, leading to lost productivity
  • A rise in ‘presenteeism’ – even worse, when employees are technically present, but unproductive (which can be even harder to spot in remote employees)
  • More errors – we all make mistakes, but as morale falls it can bring sloppiness and lack of care with it
  • More negativity – as morale flatlines, conversations almost inevitably reflect a more negative mindset
  • High employee turnover – as people become unhappy, they look for somewhere else to turn. And considering replacing an employee can cost 1.5-2x their annual salary, prioritizing employee retention makes sound financial sense, too.

How do I monitor employee morale?

Of course, you don’t want to wait for those kinds of issues to arise before doing something about low employee morale. Luckily, there are some simple ways to monitor how engaged employees are before it becomes an issue.

Firstly, never underestimate the impact that casually chatting with employees can have on a team’s morale. 

Not just a passive “my door’s always open” policy (especially in a digital world) –  you need to actively talk to employees of all levels, see how they’re feeling, ask what (if anything) is worrying them. 

Secondly, take it a step further with a regular employee survey to gauge office morale. 

Some people might be wary about sharing something sensitive face to face, so getting employee feedback with a well-crafted survey (offering a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions) could help you really understand your team.  

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Thirdly, make the most of an effective exit interview. 

Employees will leave (even happy employees), so some turnover is healthy. But as people leave, they might speak more candidly about their views, as well as give a general sense of how other people feel.

6 effective strategies to boost employee morale

If, after all that research, you find that employee morale is flagging, here are six proven ways to get people feeling happier and more engaged.

1) Be open with employees (at least as much as you can be) 

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You can’t share everything in the workplace, but staff value transparency.

Take the time to let them know what’s happening with the wider company, with their team, with the industry as a whole – anything that could help them do their job better.

And, yes, that means the good and the bad.

If you’re open and honest with the things you can share with them, you’ll build trust so that they’re less inclined to worry about the things you can’t share.

2) Empower employees to own their work 

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Micromanagement is a short-term strategy that causes long-term problems in an organization.

If you want employees to trust you, you need to build a workplace culture that shows you trust them. That means giving them the resources they need to do their job, then letting them do the work in whatever way works best for them.

Let employees manage the small details so you can focus on the big-picture. Everybody wins.

3) Focus on employee growth (in good times and bad)

A training budget isn’t just for when things are going well (especially if you’re looking to empower workers).

Cutting funding on training is another short-term play that can come back to bite you (especially during the pandemic). And even if things are tough for your business, training doesn’t need a big budget. 

You have a lot of talented people in your company, all with a skill someone else in the company is envious of. So why not get them to share it?

Offer Marketers the chance to learn some coding from the Engineers, let the Finance team learn presentation skills from Sales, and so on.

It’s a great team building activity to foster communication, it up-skills your employees for just the cost of their time, and even helps the people giving the lesson (there’s no better way to relearn something than teaching it to someone new).

4) Address the work life balance dilemma 

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Remote work has made life more difficult for many people. Then add in that existing support structures have been made more complicated by the pandemic, and you have a recipe for staff morale to wane.

Don’t see it as your employees’ problem. It’s everyone’s problem – a remote team is still a team.

You need business-wide solutions, like:

  • No emails after 18:00
  • Flexible working
  • Meeting-free days

Whatever works for your organization, and your staff.

5) Offer wellbeing support 

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Your employees are people, not machines. You have to treat them as such.

Offering workers the support they need to take care of themselves can pay huge dividends in terms of employee happiness, staff wellness, reduced sick days, increased productivity, and yes, positive morale.

Maybe you’ll invest in mindfulness training, online yoga classes, offer daily exercise inspiration, or make time for walking meetings on cell phones rather than in front of computer screens.

In short – help your people have what they need to look after themselves.

6) Celebrate wins with employee recognition

Getting recognition is a huge part of employee satisfaction. 

Knowing that the company is moving in the right direction, that their effort is part of it, and that other people are seeing it is the foundation of morale-boosting.

Celebrate peoples’ wins, and share the credit.

But it’s not just enough to talk about successes – you need to reward them. But how can you effectively reward employees when they’re all different, and motivated by different things?

Easy – you let them pick their own reward.

Embrace positive employee morale with WeGift  

7Instead of one-size-fits-all motivational perks, WeGift allows your employees to choose the exact thing that’ll send their morale skyrocketing.

You set the value, then workers can choose their own employee morale boosters in the form of a digital gift card from more than 800 brands (or a pre-approved basket from you).

Plus digital gift cards for employees offer you a lot of advantages, such as:

  • They’re instant – you can go from idea to inboxes in seconds
  • They’re global – you can offer suitable options, wherever your workers are
  • They’re discounted – you can save on the face value of cards, often as much as 20% 
  • And they’re efficient – you can cut losses as all unclaimed cards are automatically recovered

Your employees get to pick their own morale booster, and you get data on who engages and what they pick to motivate them. 

Combine that with your own company reporting (like those surveys) and you can get an accurate assessment of the exact impact it has.


Ready to start boosting employee morale? Get started with WeGift today!