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    Hiring HR Resources | 3 min read

    How to Survive the Labor Shortage by Boosting Employee Morale

    The U.S. is currently facing one of the biggest labor shortages in its history, even as the country reopens and unemployment benefits decrease. An alarming 49% of small businesses say they have job openings they haven’t been able to fill, and 85% of small restaurant owners say hiring today is difficult. But the labor shortage isn’t just impacting small businesses. Bigger brands like Chipotle and McDonald’s have even raised their hourly wages in an attempt to attract more employees. Companies big and small are scrambling to hire, to fill shifts.

    And it’s stressful. For everyone. Particularly for the employees who are feeling the pressure of an understaffed team. This is especially so in fast-paced businesses that are customer-facing. 

    The path to getting out of this bind is through hiring more employees and keeping the ones you have. Hourly workers are more inclined to change jobs whenever a better opportunity arises, so it’s important to make their current job opportunity the best one. You do that by investing in team morale. Why? Because employees with higher morale are also more loyal, which reduces the turnover rate. It also affects quality, productivity, and employee motivation—all of which are vital to a great customer experience. 

    Without further ado, here are six ways to improve employee morale.

    Build a Strong Company Culture

    Building a strong, positive company culture is the foundation to ensuring your employees maintain high morale. While this may seem like a topic that doesn’t need to be discussed, it absolutely does. Few companies are intentional about creating a good culture, especially for hourly workers. More often than not, hourly workers do not receive the same benefits salary employees do, which leads them to feel underappreciated. Be mindful of how your benefits, perks, and employee communications impact the entire team. Creating a good culture for all of your employees—that’s visible from their first interaction with you—is an often overlooked first step.

    Be Transparent

    One of the top work values employees look for is transparency. Being transparent with your team allows you to build trust with them, which in turn helps them feel valued. Employees like to know how the business is doing, especially when it comes to business decisions or changes that affect their job. Being transparent also means that you have honest conversations with your employees, especially when it comes to difficult topics such as being laid off, something that goes hand in hand with the next point. 

    Practice Effective Communication

    No one enjoys a long lecture or getting nagged at when they do something wrong. Instead, provide constructive criticism if and when their actions call for it. It’s important to let your team members know exactly where they went wrong and how they can improve themselves for the future. Additionally, avoid criticizing your employees in front of the whole team. But do commend them openly if they do something well. Doing so will improve their morale when the stress from being understaffed gets to them.

    Reward Employees Regularly 

    Providing rewards for employees who perform well increases their motivation to work hard. It can also incentivize them to work toward a goal. For example, if you’re running a restaurant, consider recognizing one staff member every month as part of an ‘Employee of the Month’ program. When deciding which rewards to put in place, select ones that your employees will value most. Many of our customers make it a point to give employees rewards that the employee can use on themselves, like movie tickets, iTunes gift cards, a free hotel stay, or a day in a spa. These specific ones are great ideas because they give the employee an opportunity to enjoy time off and recharge.

    Keep Track of Satisfaction Levels

    While providing praises and rewards can improve morale, it’s still crucial for you to measure and track it. You do that by regularly asking employees for their objective satisfaction levels. Not only does this show that you care for their well-being, but it also allows you to measure the impact of new strategies you’re implementing and see which ones are moving the needle. It also allows you to know whether they’re giving their best at work. Generally, satisfied workers tend to work harder than those who are less satisfied. Remember to always review the responses you get so your employees know you’re taking action. They don’t want to feel like you’re asking for their opinions so you can cross off an item on your to-do list. 

    Get Hands-On

    Your team needs more hands on deck. So, during this trying time, be present on the ground often and assist your team members whenever possible. This shows that you’re willing to go out of your way to help them and not just sit in the comforts of your office when things get hectic. How does this boost morale? Employees appreciate feeling like they work alongside you, not just for you. (Plus, the extra help to lighten their workload goes a long way.)  

    The Return on Investing in Employee Morale

    Restaurants—big and small—are not exempt from the labor shortage. Boosting team morale during this time can increase your company’s retention rate, which is vital to today’s survival. Plus, improving team morale also improves their performance, which keeps customer satisfaction levels high. And, last but certainly not least, it can help you hire more employees. When potential applicants hear about the great work atmosphere you’ve created, they’ll be more inclined to apply.

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