Building Positive Team Morale in Your Small Business

Creating positive morale by celebrating success is one factor discussed in the article

Seven Factors that Affect Employee Morale

by Tania Galindo Connect4Commerce Guest Columnist

People do their best work when they enjoy what they do, they feel like their company invests in their success, and they see a future at their workplace. The key is in building positive team morale in your small business so that employees are productive and want to stay working with your company. This article presents seven key factors that affect employee morale which are all things that are in your power to positively affect as the manager of a small business.

There are some people that think that jobs are not meant to be enjoyable. And that idea that jobs or the workplace are supposed to be terrible is sometimes reinforced by TV shows, comic strips, and movies about workplace culture. This attitude can work against employee morale and productivity. It leads to workplace issues such as turnover and quiet quitting which is when employees mentally check-out of work and do the bare minimum expected of them.

However, as a small business owner or leader, it’s up to you to create a positive work environment that your employees will want to work at. That starts with building positive team morale so your employees will want to be at work and be productive. The following are seven factors that affect employee morale, so they want to bring their A-game each and every day.

I. Invest in Career Growth

The best way to build positive team morale and hold onto your best talent is to give them a reason to stay.

Your employees and team members have their own goals and dreams, and they’re goals that you’re in a position to support as their manager. It’s worth keeping in mind that the average person will change careers 5-7 times. They may want to expand their careers into a new role, switch careers to try different things, or even go into business for themselves.

Investing in an employee’s career development and skill-building can make the difference between a job feeling like a paycheck and a career.

You can also offer education subsidies for college tuition for night school or part-time courses. However, if tuition reimbursement isn’t something you can give right now, you can offer other pathways to skill-building and development. Specialized industry training, micro qualification courses, and  memberships to LinkedIn Learning courses are just some examples of employee development that is affordable and valued by employees.

For freelancers and independent contractors who are a part of your core team, you can offer a set number of billable hours for independent self-study.

Investing in your employees’ education and career growth recognizes that they are people with their own agency, their own goals, and their own career aspirations. They can even take what they learn to expand their skill set in their role and add value to your team.

2. Listen to Your Employees – and Encourage Feedback

Small businesses don’t always have access to the same kinds of resources that larger enterprises have. But those smaller teams have something that bigger companies lack – flexibility and accessibility to leadership.

Corporations take years or decades to refine their processes and workflows, which is why they’re so resistant to change. This is where smaller businesses have the upper hand – they’re not bogged down in certain ways of doing things and can more easily change and adapt when necessary.

Your employees and team members may have a clearer perspective of certain aspects of your business that you don’t. Listen to them and be receptive to what they have to say. You might be surprised by what you learn!

Do routine team check-ins to address concerns. Do one-on-one check-ins between managers and individual employees. See how they’re feeling, and what you can do as their manager to enable them to do their best work.

When employees feel listened to, it goes a long way to building positive team morale.

3. Create Team-Building Activities

As your business grows, it becomes harder to maintain your company’s core values and culture the larger you scale. For some businesses, the shift away from office settings and towards remote-first workplace environments have added an extra layer of complexity to this problem, as face-to-face interactions are harder to replicate from behind a screen.

To maintain and build positive team morale, consider implementing team-building exercises as they can help by making a workplace feel less like a company and more like a team.

For remote teams, organize virtual happy hours and monthly virtual socials where your team can play games together remotely, do quizzes or competitions, or just hang out.

You can execute this on an individual scope as well. Slack integrations like Donut help arrange periodic one-on-one virtual hangouts between coworkers so they can spend time getting to know each other. Consider creating a dedicated channel on your team slack where people can share memes, discuss current events, or just shoot the breeze and chit-chat.

When your team comes together in-person, you need to ensure that these face-to-face interactions count. Our team at DOCUDavit has monthly company lunches, giveaway contests, and raffles with prizes. Little things like this go a long way towards making a company feel like a good place to work.

While a fully remote workspace works for some people, many small businesses benefit from having the personal interactions you can only get face-to-face in a workplace setting. Team-building activities exist to help your small business stay connected between those times when they meet up for those cherished happy hours.

4. Give Recognition for Good Work

When an employee does an outstanding job or goes the extra mile on a project, give them credit where credit is due. Recognition doesn’t need to be elaborate to be effective as even a little recognition goes a long way in making an employee feel valued.

Giving employees shout-outs for exceptional work helps them feel seen and appreciated when they go above and beyond and shows others what is expected of them. Slack integrations like Bonusly let you give shout-outs and earn points that team members can then exchange for gift cards.

5. Offer Flexible Work Schedules

The shift to remote work after COVID has made one thing clear: the traditional 9-to-5 work schedule is not always realistic, suitable, or ideal for everyone. It works for some, but for others it feels like being shoved into a tiny box.

According to a study conducted by Manpower group, “nearly 40 per cent of global candidates report that schedule flexibility is now among the top three factors they consider when making career decisions.” That is because not everyone does their best work when they have to wake up and be at their workstation by a certain time. Some people need time and space for their ideas to breathe, grow, take shape, and form. While others may need flexibility to manage family obligations.

In a small business you may not always be able to provide flexible scheduling, but you should consider providing flexibility with working schedules where possible. Providing employees some scheduling flexibility will increase morale and productivity amongst your staff. This flexibility requires placing trust in your employees to get the job done. Just be sure to set clear expectations for what needs to be done and trust your employees to find the best way to do it.

6. Provide Transparency

Transparency is another factor that can affect employee morale.

This is especially true when times are hard at the company. Going silent and distant is the worst thing you can do as a manager. Silence in the wake of uncertainty breeds rumors, anxiety, hostility, and distrust between team members. There is no better formula for toxic workplace culture. If the company is expecting challenges or hard times, your employees deserve to know. Give them the choice to either stand by you and see it through, or to part ways, so they can make the best decision for them.

Providing transparency can also build positive team morale in good times. When employees know their work is contributing to positive outcomes for the company, then they are more likely to work harder.

Trust and transparency are the glue that holds a team together.

7. Promote a Positive Work Culture

Saying you have a positive work culture and value your employees is all well and good. However, it amounts to little more than lip service if you don’t put in place initiatives and policies to foster a positive workplace culture.

Having positive team morale and workplace culture starts by having a culture of respect for people. At a minimum that means that bullying, harassment, inappropriate behavior, or off-color jokes are not tolerated in the workplace. As a business owner, it’s up to you to make it clear that behaviors like this won’t be tolerated and that there are consequences for inappropriate behavior. Consider having a respectful workplace policy for your small business so that everyone is clear about your company’s expectations (see this workplace violence and harassment policy for a sample template).

After providing a respectful work environment, you can build a positive work culture by valuing diversity in your workplace. While as an employer you should hire and promote candidates with the best qualifications and skills, you should also consider the value of having a diverse workforce. Having a team whose members come from different backgrounds and walks of life gives you access to perspectives, talents, and insights that you wouldn’t have otherwise. According to an article in Forbes, there are benefits of a diverse workplace such as better decision making, exposure to new skills, and different perspectives that foster other approaches to problem solving that can help your small business succeed.

Keeping Team Spirits High, and Business Soaring

As a small business owner or leader, you can choose to invest in creating positive team morale, and you’ll be rewarded for it. In the long run, taking actionable steps from these seven factors that affect employee morale will help to keep your team’s morale high. It will also make your business a better place to work and be more profitable for it.

About Tania Galindo

Tania Galindo is the VP of Sales at DOCUDavit, a document scanning and storage service based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow her on LinkedIn.

Connect4Commerce offers entrepreneurs and small business owners across the country a convenient and comprehensive place to connect, exchange goods and services, and advance their businesses. Be sure to check out further articles in our Canadian Small Business News blog for additional resources. Also, find learning & event opportunities for you employees on our site that can help you with providing ongoing training for your employees.

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