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employee morale

9 Insights from HR Leaders to Improve Employee Morale in 2022

Written by
Laura Saracho
Laura Saracho

Morale is on all our minds. And for good reason—we want to keep our employees happy! A happier employee likely has found purpose and meaning in their role, key drivers of engagement, productivity, and retention. 

So, we jumped right to the chase and asked HR and team leaders themselves: what is the top thing you're focused on to improve employee morale in the new year?

Here is what 9 thought-leaders had to say:

9 Ways to Improve Employee Morale in the New Year

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1. Prioritize employee recognition 

Whenever employees feel truly valued and appreciated, they are more productive. That’s why employee recognition is important, and in 2022, I will prioritize this mainly for improving their morale.

I understand that an employee who receives daily and positive recognition will experience better engagement levels, enhanced customer satisfaction, higher productivity, and more fidelity.

On the other hand, this employee recognition is a cinch in terms of uplifting employee morale. Also, such workplace recognition not only improves individual employee engagement— it can maximize productivity and fidelity to the organization, leading to maximum employee retention. In a nutshell, employee recognition offers higher impacts and costs a few dollars. 

- Caroline Lee, CocoSign

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2. Include more benefits and perks 

To help improve employee morale in the new year, we are focused on improving our employee perks and benefits. As a small business, we have some need to be cautious about expenses. We also want to be able to hire and retain the best people for the long term. We are doing a full analysis, and planning to introduce benefits like more PTO days, bonus payments, food-delivery stipends, massages, and more! I truly believe that HR needs to do its best to take care of your people, and then they will take care of the business.

- Melissa Kelly, Virtual Team Building 

3. Schedule time for fun 

A happy workforce is a productive workforce. It's critical that you devote your efforts in the new year to positive employee morale. One way to do this is by encouraging your employees to interact outside of the office. If you lead a remote or hybrid team, this is even more important. 

Schedule weekly happy hours, monthly picnics, and even lunchtime trivia games. Allow your team to bring their friends and family to some of these events, to make them more enticing. When your employees get to know each other outside of the office, they're more likely to develop friendships, which boosts morale.

- Seb Evans, Banquist 

4. Incorporate more direct feedback 

Direct feedback is incredibly helpful in making sure employees are engaging, learning, and growing in (and beyond) their current roles. We plan to implement one-on-ones more often because once or twice a year is simply not enough. We have to have a system. You can’t always rely on these things to happen naturally, especially in a remote environment.

- Hector Gutierrez, JOI 

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5. Mix things up 

Employee morale starts to plunge when they feel like they’re bored and stuck, repeating the same tasks over and over. If you want to make things more challenging, mix your team up and assign new projects and tasks to take them out of their usual routine. Alternatively, you could change their working hours, or introduce them to new roles and projects. Offering a fresh outlook for the new year can improve productivity where it may have been stale and boost morale.

- Saskia Ketz, Mojomox 

6. Celebrate the small wins 

We plan on taking more time for virtual (or eventually in-person) gatherings so that we can consistently connect and celebrate small wins. I think it’s really important to celebrate small victories because it improves everyone’s self-esteem and morale. Especially in such a challenging time, we want to do anything we can to promote positive employee morale. Happy people are who we want to be around, and happiness also enhances workplace productivity.

- Lisa Odenweller, Kroma Wellness

7. Focus on mental health 

As employees emerge from the pandemic, we recognize the additional stresses it caused.  Research has shown increased problems in sleeping habits, anxiety, and chronic illnesses, which is why we will focus on mental health in our efforts to boost employee morale. As a way of doing this, we have chosen to implement pulse surveys that will increase communication, allowing us to identify issues before they become larger problems.

These short, two to three-minute surveys, will be given bi-monthly, confidentially inquiring about our employees' emotional state. If needed, we will provide resources for our employees to get the assistance they desire. By implementing this system and opening a dialogue, it is our hope that we are demonstrating how much we do care about our team, which will, in turn, accomplish our company mission of continuing to raise morale.

- Cody Candee, Bounce

8. Add more paid vacations 

Employees have been through a lot of stress in their personal lives in the recent past. When you add the extra responsibilities they’ve taken on to learn the skills for a relatively new remote work environment, the last couple of years have been challenging to say the least. We all need a break or two to rejuvenate and refresh our exhausted bodies and minds, and one way to do this is to add a few extra PTOs to the employee calendar. These extra breaks will help employees return refreshed and energized, and apart from increasing productivity, they will also result in lifted spirits at work. Even when you consider the essential renewal of commitment to work-life balance, offering added time-off to employees is a great way to empathize with the workforce and help them add some positivity to their lives.

- Krista Haws, Dripped Coffee

9. Maintain a sense of belonging 

In the coming year, we intend to be more deliberate in our inclusion programs. People, I believe, stay where they feel they belong. Establishing and maintaining an employee's sense of belonging throughout their tenure is essential. Mentorship programs and company-wide resource groups are two specific programs we're considering. These initial programs are far from the end of this initiative. We consider inclusion efforts as a journey that should evolve to meet the requirements of our employees. The ultimate purpose of this effort is to provide employees a sense of belonging, which results in them being more enthused about their jobs and having higher job satisfaction.

- David Bitton, Doorloop 

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Originally published on January 20, 2022 → Last updated January 20, 2022

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Laura Saracho

Laura is the content marketing manager at Bonusly and is passionate about employee engagement and uncovering creative, data-driven ways to drive impact. She loves writing and going on excessively long trail runs.

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