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Morale Boost: Combatting the ‘Great Resignation’

4 min read

The “great resignation” is not just a new term people are using, it’s actually backed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s true — people are leaving their jobs now more than ever. Burnout is at an all-time high, and employees are feeling demotivated, dissatisfied and depressed, which leads to lower productivity.

The bright side is that there’s plenty for employers to do to combat this in the workplace. Employee recognition comes in many different forms, but they all lead to the same end result: a healthier workplace.

“Recognition leans into motivation, which leans into satisfaction. A satisfied employee has high morale, and an employee with high morale is gold. That’s why it is critical to appreciate, value and recognize your

employees,” said Charlotte Strickland, director of employee engagement and enrichment at the University of Central Arkansas.

Strickland has been in the business of employee recognition for two decades and stresses that employee recognition and appreciation cannot be skipped over.

“It promotes a positive workplace culture,” Clevelon Lasker, a licensed professional counselor at Grace Therapeutics of Conway, said. “Recognition and appreciation really foster camaraderie. It not only improves an individual’s mental health, but it also creates an overall healthy work environment.
Everyone benefits.”

Everything from massage therapists to pizza parties and happy hours are sprouting up at offices in Arkansas and around the country. Larger nights out for the whole team or company retreats and offsites are becoming more popular as well.

This can alleviate workplace and individual stress, as well as make employees feel
celebrated, Lasker explained.

These events are fun, but it’s really the everyday recognition that can make a huge difference in morale and mental health.

“We all like gifts and prizes, but sometimes we take for granted how much people want to hear they’re doing a good job,” Lasker said. “It makes you want to do better and go harder.”

It can be as simple as paying attention, Strickland explained. Ask employees how their family is or how their trip went—show intentional interest in their lives.

“To the busy supervisor or CEO, write on your calendar and schedule interaction,” Strickland said. “It may take time, but it saves time when you have built trust in a work environment.”

It can be easy to make employees feel appreciated when they leave the office, mostly because “feedback is free,” Lasker said. But even notes, verbal appreciation (especially when specific and sincere, Lasker said) and small, tangible awards like gift cards and certificates can also go a long way.

Strickland is a big proponent of management by walking around. Leaders can walk around and catch people doing things right, then praise them verbally and in front of their peers. Staff meetings and newsletters are also easy places to call out a job well done or a hard worker.

“When employees feel like their efforts are recognized, they experience less anxiety and pressure,” Lasker said. “When [they] feel like the environment is supportive, they feel more comfortable buying in, having conversations and asking for help.”

A classic form of employee recognition is re-emerging — professional development.

“Employees today are seeking growth and mobility,” Strickland said. “Give them something to work toward. If upward mobility is not possible, then invest in their professional growth with training and skill building.”

Post-pandemic, workshops and seminars are coming back, so there are opportunities to send employees to professional development programs and speakers.

Internal growth is also a form of employee appreciation. Include employees in conversations about the company, which allows them to still learn without sending them to a conference. Strickland also recommends creating opportunities for engagement by scheduling interactive programs throughout the year.

One of Strickland’s biggest pieces of advice?

“The key is to be intentional and have your antennas up to show recognition regularly — not just at a chicken banquet once a year,” Strickland said.

All in all, giving props to the hardworking and value-driven employees will do wonders for the workplace. By recognizing and appreciating employees in big and small ways, employers may be able to avoid the great resignation.

More Ideas

There’s a lot you can do to increase employee morale! Here are some of the most unique things businesses in Arkansas are doing to appreciate their employees.

Shaved Ice Day

St. Bernards Medical hosts “Hospital Week” where employees receive free breakfast, shaved ice and a slew of other fun activities.

Time off for Volunteering

Supreme Lending allows employees to volunteer during business hours without using PTO or vacation days.

Retention Bonus

Delta Dental offers employees a yearly retention bonus based on tenure.

Baggo and Ping Pong Tournaments

Evo Business Environments does plenty to appreciate their employees in the office, including Nerf gun fights, happy hours and pizza parties.

Fantasy Football League for Charity

Employees at Datamax participate in a Fantasy Football League that benefits nonprofits.

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