How to boost employee morale by improving the employee experience

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Devin Miller
September 26, 2022

To boost productivity and increase engagement, you need to build morale by improving the employee experience. 

The majority of American employees are disengaged. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report, 52% of employees are disengaged and 18% are actively disengaged. These workers aren’t emotionally connected to their jobs. They don’t care about their employers. They have low morale. 

Does it matter if employees like their jobs and feel good about your organization? Absolutely. It matters a lot, in large part because it affects your bottom line. When employees feel disengaged, they aren’t as productive. They are also more likely to steal, miss work, and even drive away customers. This costs employers $450 to $550 billion every year. 

The answer? Improving the employee experience. Employees with positive workplace experiences are 16 times more likely to be engaged. They are eight times more likely to stay with your company. In other words, improving the employee experience builds morale, saving you money by safeguarding your productivity levels and retention rates. To point you in the right direction, this guide explains how to improve the employee experience in a way that builds morale.

To improve employee morale, you must understand what employees want

Measuring morale is relatively easy. You can use pulse surveys and sentiment analysis to figure out how your team feels about their jobs, or you can look for clues such as drops in performance levels. You may also want to pay attention to morale among different groups of employees. This includes employees in different departments but also different demographics – for instance, if women have lower morale rates than men in your organization, you want to know that. Developing DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) initiatives to gauge morale by demographic is an excellent way to achieve this.

Once you’ve assessed your morale levels, you have a baseline you can work on improving. Now comes the tricky part – deciding what to change. This is not the time for trite tokens of your appreciation. Casual Fridays, free lunches, or other generic morale builders won’t create the impact you need. Instead, you need to develop an in-depth understanding of what your employees want and go from there. 

According to McKinsey research, employees want trust, cohesion, and purpose. They want clear responsibilities and opportunities for development. They want a job that aligns with their sense of purpose. They want to feel like the work they do has meaning. To improve the employee experience, you have to think about these elements. 

Elements of employee experiences 

The employee experience consists of nine elements that shape your employees' social, professional, and organizational experiences. Here is a brief overview of these elements and how they play out in organizations. 

  • People and relationships – You must treat your employees so that they know they’re important to the organization. 
  • Teamwork – To create a collaborative, supportive environment, your employees need to trust and care for each other.
  • Social climate – Your employees need to feel like they belong. 
  • Work organization – Your employees need clear responsibilities and the tools and training to be successful.
  • Work control and flexibility – Engaged employees feel a sense of control over their work. Their jobs are flexible in a way that supports their work-life balance. 
  • Growth and rewards – Your employees want to grow and develop as they provide for their families. 
  • Purpose – Engaged employees feel aligned with their role in the company and with the company as a whole.
  • Technology – You need the right technology in place to streamline work and minimize frustrations.
  • Physical environment – Employees need to feel safe and comfortable.

There are all kinds of ways you can improve these experimental elements for your employees–almost too many, so it can feel impossible to know where to begin. Before you start outlining changes to make, look at where you are and create a clear vision for where you want to be. 

Look at the employee journey and identify moments where you can improve their experience. Then start making changes, but remember, this isn’t a superficial journey. You will also need to change mindsets, behaviors, and possibly your technology as well. 

Key moments that define the employee experience

The employee experience starts during the recruitment and onboarding processes. These are the first points of contact prospective employees have with your company. Are you making them feel valued? Are you setting the stage for a positive employee experience? On the other end, you want to ensure they have a comfortable transition when they leave your company for other opportunities or retirement. 

These moments are important, but the majority of the employee experience takes place when your employees work with your organization. During this time, you need to ensure employees understand their roles. You also need to help them develop their skills and offer real recognition for a job well done. At the same time, you must ensure they can enjoy their lives while working for your company. This requires you to pay attention to work-life balance. 

Creating a work-life balance

Employees with a strong work-life balance are more engaged at work. They’re focused. They tend to work harder and miss fewer days. Many businesses have fostered a strong work-life balance through flexible schedules, remote work, or unlimited time off. Unfortunately, however, this is not an option for every industry. It can be especially challenging for manufacturing businesses that need to utilize set schedules to stay on track with production goals. 

Luckily, there are other ways to improve work-life balance. In particular, research shows that if someone has intense satisfaction in their personal life, they tend to have better work-life balance and stronger job engagement. 

Remember, work-life balance has two sides. On the one hand, it means the freedom to enjoy your life without thinking about work or checking emails 24/7. On the other hand, it means focusing on your job without worrying about the quality of your daycare, your broken water heater, or the balance in your bank account. There will always be some overlap. People will think about work when they’re off the clock, and they’ll think about life when they’re at work. 

As an employer, you play a significant role in helping your team have a positive employee experience and a strong work-life balance. This is a multi-faceted process. You must improve your employees’ everyday lives at work. You also need to offer benefits that reduce financial stress and support financial wellness. 

That’s where SecureSave comes in. We know employees can become distracted and unengaged, and we believe a lot of that comes from a lack of financial wellness. To help, we offer emergency savings accounts (ESAs). Employer-sponsored savings accounts are easy to implement and help improve the employee experience by increasing life satisfaction and safeguarding work-life balance. To learn more, contact us today.

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