10 steps to boost employee morale at your firm

Accountant & Bookkeeper Guides

5 min read

Employee morale ebbs and flows in most organizations. That’s especially so for professions like accounting – where things are often deadline-driven. It’s tempting to put your head down and push through the challenging times, but you’re better off to recognise the issue and take positive action.

Succeed with a great team

To succeed when the pressure comes on you need your team at or near peak performance. And positive people are productive people. Here are 10 steps to boost employee morale.

1. Recognize success

Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done. It makes people feel good and it’s a really inexpensive way to repay them for extra effort. Plus it sets standards. Your staff will be nicer to each other if you’re nice to them.

Aim to be consistent, genuine and fair with your praise.

Think about:

  • recognizing when staff go above and beyond – will a simple shout-out at the next team meeting do or should you reward top-notch service with something more?
  • celebrating major milestones with coffee and donuts – it will help break up big projects that can otherwise seem endless
  • rewarding work that’s completed on time and under budget – perhaps with a Friday happy hour
  • recognizing long hours with an afternoon off – the gesture will do a lot to boost employee morale

2. Cut back long hours

It’s easy to let long days become the norm when you’re on big projects or facing tight deadlines. Most employees are prepared to take on extra work occasionally, but it’s not sustainable in the long run.

Even if you have staff that appear to relish it – don’t be fooled. They may be telling the boss what the boss wants to hear.

Encourage your team to work normal hours. Talk about life outside work. Set an example by leaving on time. You’d be surprised how many people stay back because their manager’s still in the office.

If you can afford to, bring in contract staff to help out when the crunch is on. The investment could save you from the costs of burnout and turnover.

3. Be flexible with work time

When work quietens, give staff the flexibility to leave early. It shows you trust them and it’s a great way to give something back.

4. Help staff get fit

Fit people are healthier, more productive and less likely to call in sick.

Fitness is a lifestyle decision so you can’t expect to change people’s habits, but do what you can to provide a healthy environment. You could:

  • introduce standing desks
  • offer health-club memberships
  • sponsor employee sports teams
  • give out pedometers and reward staff who improve their daily step count

Even small increases in activity can help fitness and health so don’t be afraid to set modest goals.

5. Help your team eat right

When people work long hours, their eating habits can suffer. Lunches get missed and dinners often consist of fast food.

Help your team eat right during these busy times by stocking the staff kitchen with healthy snacks like yogurt, nuts and fruit. Order healthy takeout. Have plenty of drinking water around the office. Save the high-calorie feast until things die down and it’s time to celebrate.

6. Introduce unlimited paid time off

Giving your team unlimited paid time off sounds reckless, but research suggests it’s worth a try. Unlimited paid time off is exactly as it sounds – unlimited vacation, sick and personal leave.

Companies like Netflix are fans of the policy. They say employees rarely abuse it for fear of coming across badly to their boss or colleagues. It can save money, too. Days off are not accrued, so firms don’t pay out unused leave when a staff member resigns.

7. Provide the right tools

Slow or unreliable technology causes unnecessary frustration and anxiety – especially when a deadline’s looming and the printer jams or the internet goes down. Dependable infrastructure makes the workday much smoother. Let employees bring personal devices to work if it makes them more comfortable.

8. Reduce meeting times

When it’s busy, meetings get in the way of doing actual work. Keep them to a minimum so people can focus on their tasks and make some real progress.

If you need to hold a meeting, keep these pointers in mind.

  • Keep it to 15 minutes or less.
  • Ban email, messaging and phone calls.
  • Have no more than 10 attendees.
  • Set a clear agenda.
  • Make someone responsible for actioning every task discussed.

9. Upskill and promote your people

Busy times can be a great opportunity for career development. There’s a lot to do so try delegating senior tasks to up-and-comers. See how they handle the extra responsibilities. You could find a new star on your team. And they’ll value the show of faith.

Employees who learn new skills, gain experience, and get promoted tend to stay with a firm longer. Just make sure not to bury them with work. That’ll do nothing for employee morale. Bring in temps (or find contractors) to support them, if necessary.

10. Ask staff for their opinions and feedback

To improve your company, you need honest feedback and ideas from all your employees. Get them together for a debrief once a tough project or a gruelling tax season is done. Ask them what worked well and what could’ve been done better. An anonymous survey will get the most candid answers.

However you do it, act fast. If you ask questions too long after the work’s been done, people will forget some of the things that went wrong and you’ll miss out on valuable learnings.

Busy times can grow your team

Hectic projects can be a challenge, but good things often come from them. Teams pull together when the pressure’s on. Some people shine and emerge as leaders. You’ll learn a lot about your firm and your people. If managed right, it can be a time of profitability and growth. Just be sure to look after employee morale and the rewards for your firm will follow.