It’s summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, and while the daylight hours run late into the evening, so do the demanding workdays of many IT pros.
Though characteristic of the industry, long hours and hectic workplaces can be especially brutal when thoughts of grilling outside or sitting poolside with family or friends are inviting alternatives to being in the office. Morale may be waning among your staff members, and if you’re interested in keeping your IT force effective, employee attitudes should be a concern for you and your management staff.
In a recent article, TechRepublic columnist Tim Landgrave outlined a three-pronged strategy for boosting employee morale. This article highlights some additional tips from TechRepublic members.
Credit where it’s due
If an employee has made sacrifices and valuable contributions to a project, one of the worst things that can happen is for his or her efforts to go unnoticed by others in the organization. TechRepublic member Tim Riley believes that, in far too many cases, managers enjoy company-wide praise and rewards while the technicians who do the duty are overlooked.
“However,” wrote Riley, “when a technical problem or error threatens or delays a project, technical staff usually manages to catch the blame, even if the situation is caused by something out of their control.”
According to John Foutch, a senior applications systems engineer, the problem that Riley identifies is a real one, with damaging effects on morale. Yet it’s a problem that can be easily rectified with small gestures of company-wide recognition. Foutch recommends that managers be charged every month with nominating a star employee for his or her exemplary efforts. Then, announce the winner “in a ‘way to go’ e-mail that is sent to everyone and throw in a dinner for two at a popular restaurant.”
Explain the context of work
For some employees with low morale, simply understanding the impact that their hard work has on the entire organization or its mission is enough to improve their attitudes toward the job. As an alternative to just dictating what needs to be done, application systems manager David Britton believes that showing employees the meaning of their work will infuse more purpose into their long, busy days.
“Discuss priorities and issues with them and where the task is placed in the bigger picture issues,” he suggested. “The bigger picture for some tasks will be a new product or a step along the career development path.”
Communication and compromise
While Britton believes in the benefits of communicating why work is meaningful, Tim Riley stresses the positive impact that good, considerate listeners have on employee morale. If a superior simply explains why a team is going to be pulling x number of additional hours for a rushed project and refuses to listen to the employees’ suggestions or complaints, staff members will undertake the project with little enthusiasm.
“They [the technical staff] may not understand all of the business issues involved, but how many managers understand all of the technical issues?”
Riley knows that once the issues are discussed, a compromise may not be possible. But at a minimum, this approach can help employees better understand new demands placed on them.
TechRepublic member L. McKie works for an owner-operated company that validates Riley’s belief in communication and compromise. Once a month, the owner of the company assembles five or more employees to listen to their suggestions, problems, or complaints. The owner comments and takes notes on everything expressed during these meetings. She often implements some of the suggestions as soon as she is able. This response, in addition to the owner’s open-door policy, has an excellent influence on employee morale.
“Both of these factors make someone feel important in the company—especially if you hold a particular job in the company that most people overlook,” McKie wrote.
So how’s morale where you work?
Is employee morale a problem in your organization? Do you have any tips for keeping personnel upbeat about the demands of their jobs? Post a comment below and share your thoughts.