How do you as an Human Resource (HR) Manager or business owner improve morale of your teams to ensure maximum productivity and performance?

As we have pointed out in previous posts, the South African workforce is under significant strain at the moment

Add in recent events with the flooding in Kwa-Zulu Natal and you start to realise that Human Resource (HR) managers have their work cut out for them in terms of keeping staff morale up.

So what can you as an HR manager do to improve staff morale during these challenging times?

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” – this applies to workforce morale

This is a well-known quote from management guru Peter Drucker and it’s the ideal departure point for you as an HR manager. Do you know what the staff morale is at point in your business? Do you know whether it is improving or declining?

There are a couple of ways to look at this:

  • Some companies schedule a weekly check-in with staff and allow them to rate their work experience and general level of happiness
  • We do this as part of our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to support HR managers with our weekly check-in sessions
  • Make use of a platform like Glassdoor to see where your organisation ranks and set yourself the goal of creating an environment that attracts the highest calibre of employee
  • You can make use of technology to track employee morale – there is a very good resource here at PC Mag which lists some of the global leaders in technology. In South Africa you can make use of technology such as

Having said that, all of this technology is very useful but one of the key issues that you will face as an HR manager will be around communicating the purpose of this technology to your team members. With the recent transition from remote work / work-from-home and teams now returning to the office, technology is often viewed as a tool for “spying” on team members and when it is not implemented in a collaborative manner, you will often find teams resent the introduction of technology.

Support employee-led initiatives and watch workforce morale rise

Before re-inventing the wheel, some of the easiest wins will often come from your own team members.

  • Do they have social projects they like to support?
  • Are they members of sports teams that you can support through staff activations or sponsorships?
  • Encourage them to share initiatives that are driven by their friends or family members – we rise by lifting others

Set realistic goals and employee morale will improve

The last 3 years have been incredibly challenging for managers and business owners across the spectrum. Whether it has been COVID-19 enforced lockdowns, the riots that took place in 2021, the load-shedding or the generally challenging economy …. it is very difficult to constantly growth of profits ahead of everything else.

When team members don’t believe they can realistically achieve the targets that are set for them, they will naturally start to look elsewhere for opportunities.

Set realistic targets and praise regularly when they are achieved.

Turn your detractors into your workforce morale champions

We all know that teams are made up a combination of different personalities and you as a business leader cannot single-handedly drive change.

It is even harder when you have team members who are focused on the negative all the time. Many people bring their “baggage” to work and this negativity can fester beneath the surface.

Invest in understanding why you have detractors in your team and what you can do to engage them and bring them around to being champions of staff culture.

Invest in a staff uniform – living the brand will improve workforce morale

This sounds really simple … because it is.

One of the easiest wins that you as a staff member can invest in will be your staff uniform. There are a variety of reasons for this but 2 obvious ones that make sense in the South African context:

  • It gives you and your team an identity – when they pull on that tracksuit top or golf-shirt, they are immediately adopting a sense of purpose
  • When you have a lot of entry-level staff, they simply don’t have the budget to necessarily look good – equipping them with a simple standard wardrobe can go a long way

Gamify work – staff and workforce morale will jump

If your goal is to improve staff morale then move your business culture away from seeing how many e-mails you can send or “clear” in a day. E-mail is not work.

Look at creating monthly incentives:

  • Employee of the month voted by team members
  • One of our clients runs a monthly Professional Development Scorecard which tracks how often they are featured in the media or how many times team members find new clients, attend events, submit leads or go on training courses
  • We have mentioned it in previous posts but one of our clients uses EasyEquities vouchers to gamify the workplace experience and shift their teams from being employees to investors while driving financial wellness in the workplace

Hire team players and improve employee morale

When recruiting, one of the questions you should be asking yourself is “how will this person fit in with my team?”

Often people are thrown together with little thought around how the various personalities will integrate and interact. Sometimes you need an authoritarian to bring structure and control to a project, other times you need collaborative team members.

When it comes to technology improving the recruitment process, we love the work that the team from Crayon are doing in this space. They are reinventing the way that organisations recruit talent by building in personality traits into the hiring process.

These kind of technology tools will help to improve the way that organisations find the right fit for their business.

Stay connected – you can’t improve workforce morale remotely

Whether you are an HR Manager or business owner in Gauteng, KZN, Western Cape, Limpopo or anywhere else in the country remote work has changed the way that you engage with your teams.

While we may be one of the most connected generations around, technology is not necessarily helping you to genuinely connect with your staff. Invest fixed time to engage with team members and identify what drives them and what their goals are – you are more likely to lose disengaged staff members that you are to lose those who find meaning and purpose in their work.

Your goal as an HR manager or business owner is to have a happy and productive workforce. You can only achieve this if you understand and measure employee and workforce morale and work out practical tips to improve this.

While we would LOVE you to invest in one of our corporate wellness or Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), we also know that you can make some simple tweaks to your business processes to lift staff morale without breaking the bank.

If you would like to discuss an employee wellness program for your team, please feel free to reach out to us.