Right now, especially due to the healthcare reform, the national labor relations intrusion into non-union organizations and the continuation of economic struggles, employers need to focus more on improving their employee’s morale. For the past several years, many employers have the belief, “you are lucky to have a job.” And, yes, employees are and should be appreciative of having a job and regular paycheck.

However, as employers continue to increase job responsibilities without commiserate pay, increase insurance premiums without a raise all while eliminating/reducing “feel good” benefits, employers are not noticing the devastating ripple effects throughout their employees. As an employer myself, I understand that cuts are necessary especially in these economic times if you intend to remain in business. But, I also understand that a happy employee is much more productive and less likely to file a grievance. While, disgruntled employees taint the workplace creating an unhappy atmosphere, poor production and increased absenteeism.

With the increased infusion of the national labor relations rules, employers need to understand that a disgruntled employee can be more than just a headache. Concerted activities of employees are now protected. These concerted activities include employees communicating highly derogatory comments regarding the employer, supervisors and more through general conversation or social media. Employers can no longer take disciplinary action if more than one employee is participating in the discussion. Plus, disgruntled employees are much more likely to file an EEOC claim. As of 2012, the State of Florida leads in complaints being filed for all sorts of reasons. Even though these claims can be easily disputed, with the proper personnel documentation, it still takes time and money away from advancing the company.

Why deal with lower employee morale, when it’s easy enough to have happy employees. Here are a few tips on what employers can do without a financial risk.

  • Communication: Communicate with your employees. Let them know what is going on with finances, annual reviews, insurance renewal negotiations, etc. If you communicate, the employees will not feel as inclined to create their own view of what is happening.
  • Acknowledgement/Kudos: Acknowledge your employees contributions. Manager, directors and c-level professionals should take a few minutes out of their day to acknowledge the employees that make it possible for them to be in the position that they hold. It costs nothing, but can make a world of difference to the employees … not just to those you acknowledge.
  • Recognition: Create a recognition program that will allow an employer to broadcast their appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the selected employee(s). Instituting an Employee of the Month program is highly suggested and is well received. However, it is imperative that the employer institute objective measuring tools to ensure that the right employees are selected and avoid the perception of favoritism.
  • Engage: Make sure that your super performers are engaged. If a super performer becomes bored, he or she will likely leave without much warning. Provide challenging (out of the box work assignments) from time to time. This will ensure that they are learning and feel more like part of “the” team.
  • Solution: Due to the rising cost of insurance, especially since the inception of the healthcare reform, company plan deductibles and out of pocket maximums have increased. These increases are a significant concern to the employees. So, provide a solution that shows the employee that you understand and care. Offer ancillary benefits such as Aflac or Colonial that will help to offset financial risk and burden of a higher deductible. Some employers have realized this as a major employee concern and have paid for an ancillary benefit for their employees. By doing so, the employers have shown their commitment to their employees and their employees have shown their loyalty through increased productivity and morale and much lower turnover.

About the Author

Creating a positive work environment is not difficult and does not have to cost a lot. It takes some time, and requires that the employers are present and more visible. There is absolutely no reason why an employer, regardless of his/her position within the organization, cannot take a few minutes to acknowledge the hard work of a contributing member of the team.

By instituting some or all of the suggestions outlined herein, you too can improve the morale of your employees. By doing so, you will strongly reduce your chances of becoming unionized, reduce your chances of being named in an EEOC claim, and reduce the significant financial loss that comes from poor productivity and excessive absenteeism. All-Inclusive Human Resources, LLC works with many employers, small and large, to increase employee morale, audit and procure benefits that matter, ensure compliance and much more. Let us help guide you in the right direction.

Kristin Sian Shutler
All-Inclusive Human Resources, LLC