Boost Staff Morale Without Breaking the Bank

Five no-cost ways to boost staff satisfaction.

August 25, 2011
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Can’t show staff the money? Show them the love instead.

Although many leaders can afford to reward their employees monetarily for a job well done, they can show staff their appreciation without spending a dime, says author Todd Patkin.

“People will never admit it, but money is not what they desire most from their work. Instead, showing appreciation, respect, and, yes, even love are the three most important ways to make your people feel great about their work,” says Patkin, author of “Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In.”

The best way to improve the company’s bottom line is by having happy, engaged employees, he says.

Patkin offers five “show-me-the-love” strategies employers can use any time without spending a cent:

1. Send “love” notes

Writing and sending thank-you notes is standard practice when receiving a gift. And what better gift can staff offer than a job well done?

When an employee goes above and beyond, or achieves an important goal, send the person a handwritten note conveying your appreciation.

What takes one sheet of paper and five minutes to produce will make a lasting impression on the employee. Plus, it will encourage employees to say “thank you” to co-workers more often, creating a more positive workplace atmosphere.

2. Distribute inspiration

Most employees don’t see work as a place to receive inspiration and rejuvenation during the day. That’s why leaders should aim to buoy their team’s spirit on a daily basis.

If you help staff see the world as a brighter place and improve their attitude, their productivity will increase, too.

Patkin suggests sharing inspirational quotations or stories with staff. “Most people vastly underestimate the power of feeding their minds with inspirational and educational material.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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