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There’s no question that boosting morale at work and increasing employee engagement is pivotal to maintaining employee retention—a reality that didn’t begin with but was punctuated by the so-called Great Resignation of 2021 and the since steady reprioritization of employee satisfaction in the workplace.

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Looking beyond the obvious impact of retention rates on the success of your business, high employee engagement levels benefit your success directly too, by contributing to better team performance.

Following an employee engagement survey, a Gallup study comparing performance outcomes at low employee engagement levels and high employee engagement levels revealed a difference of 64% in safety incidents, 41% in quality, and ultimately 23% in profitability between organizations.

In other words, the level of employee engagement directly and significantly impacts the success of your business. So how do you increase employee engagement to start boosting morale at work and improving business performance?

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Boosting Morale at Work by Creating a Culture of Engagement

Boosting morale at work is about cultivating a strong sense of belonging, purpose, and fulfillment—these are what drive workers to become more engaged and to perform at their best. So to create a culture of engagement, it’s important to focus on individual contributions while centering team collaboration. Here are a few ways to do that. 

Set clear responsibilities and expectations.

Especially when you’re hiring new talent or delegating a project that you have been doing yourself for a long time, it’s easy to assume a shared understanding of what needs to be done. But doing so will leave your employees without the direction and context they need to perform at their best. Not only is this a threat to the quality of the work itself, but it puts your employee in an insecure place—no one wants to be set up to fail. Sometimes boosting morale at work is as simple as ensuring everyone is on the same page. 

By taking the guesswork out of each person’s responsibilities and the expectations for each project, you not only save the business from inconsistent outcomes, but you set the stage for open communication and demonstrate an investment in the employee’s success—which in turn elicits their investment in your business’s success, boosting morale at work overall.

Recognize and leverage individual strengths. 

Recognizing individual strengths is more than delivering positive employee feedback. No matter how many times you give a team member a pat on the back and say great work, if they continue to be placed in a position that doesn’t utilize the strengths they know they have, it’s not going to affirm their value. 

When we’re asked to do work that doesn’t align with our strengths, we tend to have demoralizing experiences: we lose sight of our purpose, become disconnected from our personal best, feel undervalued or unfulfilled—all of which tend to lead us to burnout, underperformance, or departure. 

By paying attention to your team’s diversity of talent, giving specific praise, and repositioning your team according to their talent, you help employees feel rightly valued and empowered to develop professionally. By helping them understand how their contributions fit into the bigger picture of your company’s success, you reinforce their belonging in your organization and expand their capacity for creativity and innovation, ultimately boosting morale at work.

Encourage learning and knowledge sharing.

Fostering a culture of learning and knowledge sharing is crucial for boosting morale at work. When employees are encouraged to share their insights and expertise, you help them feel valued for their contributions and help them understand how they can continue to improve meaningfully. And as each person gains a better understanding of this for themselves and for their coworkers, collaborations become more intentional and more efficient

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When the knowledge and techniques of one team member are made available to the full team, you ensure that your team is empowered to take over in their absence—whether temporary or permanent. 

Not only does this support your resilience as a business, but it gives team members the peace of mind that when they take vacation or leave the company to pursue professional development, they don’t have to carry the weight of abandoning their team or compromising your business. This security is crucial to boosting morale at work.

Promote & practice productive, nonviolent feedback.

Boosting morale at work is often about correcting miscommunications, which are often borne out of misguided or insufficient feedback. Whether sharing or receiving, chances are you’ve experienced “bad” feedback—the kind that’s really meant to blame, the kind that’s one-sided, the kind that’s only given when it’s “too late.”

As most of us have experienced, feedback has the potential to cause harm, especially when it’s strictly reserved to a quarterly employee performance review, rather than treated like the pillar of employee engagement that it is.

When constructive employee feedback is incorporated into your daily interactions as a team, you normalize the process, enabling your team members to improve and help each other improve with a greater sense of trust and security. 

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Like anything you’re asking of your team, you as the leader should model it. This means you should be regularly giving employee feedback, but also that you should invite feedback from your team

Power dynamics between employees and management often keep employees from giving valuable feedback to you or your leadership team. This has to be combatted to create an effective culture of feedback. When successful, both employees and leaders should be able to enhance their performance.

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Actualizing Employee Engagement through Process Management & Standardization

There is no one way to implement these cultural shifts for engaging employees and boosting morale at work. But there is one employee engagement tool that can jumpstart your progress by providing the practical steps to realize a culture of engagement.  

When done right, standardizing processes through process mapping and SOP writing ensures that every task is rooted in strategy and consistently applied to carry out a purpose—and that this strategy and purpose can be shared and understood by every person executing it. 

By ensuring meaningful, intentional work, process documentation not only keeps your day-to-day operations streamlined and on track, but it promotes employee buy-in, boosting morale at work and improving overall performance.

SOPs set clear responsibilities and expectations.

By providing structured and consistent guidelines, while also summarizing the goal and strategic purpose of each process, SOPs enable your team members to understand precisely what is expected of them and why. When employees have a clear understanding of what is expected from them, they feel more confident in their abilities and have a sense of direction in their work. Knowing that they are contributing to the success of the company, their engagement improves, boosting morale at work. 

SOPs support individual strengths.

An effective SOP contextualizes the process with a goal, how the process contributes to that goal, and what skills are needed to carry out the process. Armed with this knowledge, you and your managers can quickly identify the skills needed for a project and more easily delegate to the best fit.

In reviewing a team member’s work, SOPs make it easier to locate specifically where an individual excelled and where they struggled, enabling you to empower your employees with the tools or redirection they need to excel.

This personalized approach enhances confidence, decision-making abilities, and overall job satisfaction, boosting morale at work. When employees feel valued and empowered in their work, they are motivated to perform at their best, contributing to a dynamic and successful organization.

SOPs encourage knowledge sharing and problem solving.

SOPs provide employees a tool for closely analyzing their own work and the effectiveness of the process itself. As living documents that evolve with the team’s collective use, SOPs encourage employees to share their insights, not only for how a process is communicated but how a process is done. This cultivates a culture of continuous improvement where those doing the work can determine how the work is done. 

Employees can refer to SOPs when providing feedback, using them as a reference point to pinpoint specific steps or processes that could benefit from optimization. This structured approach ensures that feedback is targeted and actionable, leading to meaningful improvements in day-to-day operations.

At first glance, SOPs might seem like a barrier to problem solving, but when you treat them as a guiding framework, that is not the case. Instead of providing ready-made solutions, SOPs prompt employees to use the framework and tools they have to analyze and solve the problem. 

This process requires employees to truly engage—to think creatively and develop innovative solutions—empowering their autonomy, saving you and your managers troubleshooting time, and boosting morale at work.

SOPs support a culture of feedback.

By delineating core processes and best practices, SOPs provide a solid foundation that invites valuable insights and suggestions for improvement from everyone who touches a project. When employees see that their input is valued, it makes giving and receiving feedback more approachable as a whole.

SOPs also help to make feedback more actionable: When employees follow well-defined procedures, their work becomes more transparent and consistent. This visibility allows managers and colleagues to evaluate their performance objectively, providing constructive feedback that aligns with the established standards and outlined steps in the SOP—reducing confusion and conflict and boosting morale at work.