Posted on / Updated on / in Blog & Employee Morale & Employee Relations /

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that U.S. companies lose $3 billion a year to the effects of negative attitudes and behaviors at work.

Needless to say, that’s a lot of money lost just because your employees aren’t getting along or aren’t happy.

It’s not a difficult puzzle to put together. The happier your employees are while they’re at work, the more likely they are to do a good job, and the better your company is going to perform.

While most sensible business people know this, I fear that too few of them really take it to heart. I fear that too few of them actually sit down to think about how they can actively improve employee morale by making their employees’ work experiences better.

This article hopes to shed a little light on how you might go about strengthening the employee morale at your company, but in a different way than you might expect.

How an Infamous 2010 Disaster Can Improve Employee Morale

We’re going to start out by revisiting one of the biggest events of 2010, the Chilean Mining Disaster.

The events that took place from the time when these brave miners were trapped to the time they were eventually freed were well documented. This was one of the most incredible displays of teamwork I’ve ever heard of.

These miners were from all different walks of life, and they could have argued, formed coalitions, and been at each others throats in the horrors, trials, and tribulations of complete isolation. But they didn’t. When times were at their worst, they banded together to survive. They worked TOGETHER.

We as the leaders and managers of growing successful organizations can learn a lot from this.

While many organizations (unknowingly) maintain cultures of conflict and hostility, it seems the extremely successful organizations promote the teambuilding and bonding of their employees, work to reduce disruptive and unproductive drama, and make it a priority to keep their employees smiling throughout the day.

Don’t You Work Better When You’re Happy?

No one wants to dread coming to work every morning, and even though the workplace is not meant to be a social atmosphere, if you don’t like the people you work with, you’re not going to want to be around them.

Needless to say that makes working with them effectively much more difficult.

Most employees have had to work harder with fewer resources available to them in the past two years than they ever have in their lives, especially for the young Generation Y demographic.

The American workforce is probably a little bit burnt out by now. They could use a little bit of enjoyment out of their workplace.

Consider how you can arrange fun activities that allow your employees to take a break and blow off some steam (ex. an office-style minute to win it contest), but make them voluntary. No one wants to be required to go to a social event.

Employees Don’t Want to Work When They’re Not At Work

In an ideal world, we would have employees that would do anything for us round the clock, but we can’t realistically expect that, nor should we.

When planning your company event, don’t just do a boring company party that ends up being all about work. Get outside of the doors of the office and live a little. Make this about your employees.

If they want to talk about work let them, but talking about how to improve the TPS reports shouldn’t be the goal of this event. This is about your team and their happiness. Be creative. Let your employees escape.

You may even think about getting your employees’ input about something that they might like to do. Ultimately the decision has to be yours because you know what is appropriate and what isn’t, but it doesn’t hurt to listen.

What Have We Learned?

The point of all of this is to ensure that you are providing a fun, rewarding, and most of all, positive work environment for your employees – a place where they will look forward to going to each morning.

This will not only increase the productivity of your employees, but will also keep your turnover down, which further increases the benefit to your organization (the cost of a hiring a new employee is usually at least half of their annual salary).

Adding a little bit of levity in the workplace is a great morale booster. And investing employee morale is a win-win for everyone.

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about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.