Aug 05 2014

10 Ways to Boost Employee Morale Without Spending Money

A simple thank you or public recognition can go a long way in letting employees know they are appreciated.

Information technology workers play a unique role within the larger federal workforce, so much so that there are councils and working groups dedicated to tackling the issues they’re up against.

But when it comes to job and workplace satisfaction, members of the IT community are no different from their brethren in the federal government. They, too, want to enjoy their jobs and know their work is valued.

The most recent statistics from the 2013 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey show that federal employees aren’t as satisfied as they were a year ago — or even five years ago.

Compared with professionals in the private sector, federal workers are far less satisfied with the recognition they receive for doing a good job. While private-sector companies often have greater flexibility in how they can reward employees, there are things that public-sector managers can do to recognize hardworking subordinates and boost morale without spending money.

On a 100-point scale, the government received a score of 42.6 when it comes to how satisfied employees are with the recognition they receive for a job well done. The private sector scored 64 points, based on responses from more than 6.7 million employees worldwide at 400 companies across various industries.

The good news is, there are ways to recognize employees without drawing the scrutiny of Congress. Mike Michalowicz, CEO of Provendus Group, wrote an article last year, “101 Ways to Reward Employees (Without Giving Them Cash),” that’s still relevant today.

Michalowicz specializes in igniting growth within companies that have hit a plateau. His list requires some modifications for the government workforce, but here are 10 of those ideas that are sure to make an impact in your organization.

  1. A Thank You Note. Saying thanks about something specific may be the ultimate reward. If you do it selectively, yet authentically, a thank you note may be pinned above your employee’s desk for years.

  2. Put it in the File. After you write a personal, handwritten note to the employee, thanking him for his effort or accomplishment, put a photocopy of the note in his file.

  3. Standing Ovation. Get all your employees together in the same room. Really pack them in. Then invite in the employee you're recognizing and give him or her a standing ovation.

  4. Just Say it. The words “thank you” are powerful. And sometimes all you need to do is to say it sincerely.

  5. Company Newsletter. If you have one, feature them in it.

  6. Appreciate Personal Wins. Don’t just appreciate employees for what they do for you. If they’ve achieved a milestone in their lives outside the office, celebrate with them in the office. Decorate their cubicle with balloons and cards when they achieve a personal win, like completing a marathon, winning a tournament, losing weight (if they’ve been public with their diet), having a baby, buying a new home or graduating from a class.

  7. Talk About Anything But Business. Take time to have coffee with your employees. Chat; ask them about their life and family. Take time to get to know them as people. It shows you’re interested and that you appreciate them for being them.

  8. Innovation Day. Have a half day a week where employees can work on a personal project, or volunteer at the organization of their choice. For federal employees, this could mean working on a project that relates to their agency's mission.

  9. Start a Team. It doesn’t matter if it’s summer softball, bowling or badminton. The idea is to build relationships, camaraderie and respect among employees.

  10. Time. Give the gift of your time and attention. Offer to mentor or coach employees you truly appreciate.


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