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4 strategies for boosting employee morale

Managers need to provide tangible signs of their support and appreciation of their staff in order to counteract disengagement - and these four techniques can help.

Most managers have likely had the experience of walking into the office or workspace only to find it full of employees looking unchallenged – or even downright bored. This phenomenon may not be merely a reflection of workers not having enough to do, however. Malaise often sets in when staff members feel ignored in the workplace or don't adequately understand how their performance contributes to the company at large. As such, managers need to provide tangible signs of their support and appreciation of their staff in order to counteract disengagement – and these four techniques can help:

1. Demonstrate the value of their work
Employee reward programs can help demonstrate that supervisors are aware of workers' performance and potential. In addition, it's important that managers make themselves available in-person and make their appreciation known on an individual level. In a column for BedTimes Magazine, Barefoot Wine founders Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey discussed the importance of thanking employees who exceed expectations.

"Don't take it for granted when your employees put in extra hours, land a coveted client or turn out an incredibly well-thought-out proposal, for example," Houlihan and Harvey wrote.

2. Be flexible
Establishing trust is a key component of the manager-staff relationship. Employees want to know that they're seen as individuals and not simply personnel, so it's important that supervisors take workers' specific needs into consideration. Houlihan and Harvey noted that they gave Barefoot employees one Friday off in every month during which a three-day weekend didn't naturally occur. Meanwhile, in a post for the VAR Guy, business media expert Elliot Markowitz suggested that extra time off can be a way for companies with limited budgets to show their appreciation for employees.

3. Present challenges
That said, asking more of staff can help increase engagement, too. Overly heavy workloads might cause employees to complain, but the eyes-glazed-over look is more commonly a symptom of not being challenged. Furthermore, a new assignment or important task may give individuals a better idea of how they contribute to the company.

4. Offer rewards
Employee incentive programs provide a great way for managers to motivate staff. And while tastes vary, some items are desirable across the board – mobile and tech gadgets, for instance.

"Most people would love to get a new iPod, iPad, Kindle, Surface Tablet or other mobile device," Markowitz wrote.

Promising a smartphone or tablet to the employee with the highest year-end sales numbers, for example, might be just the performance booster the staff needs.

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