Morale is important at work, especially for a sales team. Workers with high levels of morale are typically more motivated, and who doesn’t want their workforce to be more motivated.
That being said, when leadership asks the question “how can we boost morale at work,” they are likely attacking it from the wrong angle.
Before we get into why this is the wrong way to ask the question, let’s first establish why morale at work is so important.
Why is building morale at work important?
First of all, it’s altruistic. If your employees have high morale, it’s reasonable to believe they are living happier, more fulfilled lives. You should want that for your workforce because it is, by itself, intrinsically valuable.
However, if you’re not swayed by magnanimity, there are also reasons to care about the happiness of your workforce that pertain to the success of your business.
Research has shown that “practices that result in high employee morale” can return gains on the order of 30-40 percent.
For a concrete example, research done on 28 different publicly traded firms showed that high-morale companies’ stock prices increased by an average of 16 percent while low-morale companies in the same industry only saw stock increases of 3 percent.
There are dozens of studies and plenty more research out there that backs up the claim that employee morale and motivation matters and has tangible effects on a company’s bottom line.
It’s not all that surprising to hear this when thinking about your own sales team. I’d feel comfortable wagering that your highest performing salespeople are generally pretty happy with their job.
When I’m happy and motivated working on something, I generally tend to do a better job, and I’m not alone.
High morale is the baseline
Given how important and beneficial morale is, why is asking how to boost morale the wrong question?
Well, it’s not that it’s necessarily the wrong question, it’s just that it’s probably not the ideal question to be asking in terms of employee morale. The reason being: employees generally start out with high morale.
In the same article linked above, the authors reference a survey of 3.5 million employees over the course of three decades. It revealed that employees who have been with a company between one and five years scored 14% lower in job satisfaction scores than new employees.
You might be thinking that the decrease is unavoidable and is simply explained by a honeymoon period at a new job. But that wouldn’t explain the ten percent of companies that don’t see a dip in morale and motivation.
This ten percent suggests that there are things a company can do that prevents employees from becoming less satisfied and motivated after a year at their job.
This is why companies looking to boost morale are looking at the issue the wrong way. Boosting morale shouldn’t be necessary. You really should be more concerned with maintaining that day one morale that most employees walk into the building with.
Difference between boosting morale and maintaining it
On the surface, these might sound like the same things. Sure they have some similarities and there’s overlap, but they are certainly not the same thing.
It might be helpful to think of it in terms of the Fast and Furious movies (that’s right). When they are racing in those movies, there comes a point in every race where the drivers hit the NOS button that gives their car a boost of nitrous oxide gas that allows the car to drive much faster for a short amount of time.
This is a morale boost. It’s not changing anything fundamental about how fast your car can drive, but rather providing a temporary boost. Once the boost wears off, the car is going to return to its baseline speed.
Maintaining morale is concerned with the enduring parts of the race. Maybe you won’t be as fast as a car on NOS, but over the course of the race, your average top speed is faster.
So, rather than focusing on individual events that might temporarily boost morale, think about ways you can indelibly impact your sales team’s culture, so that high employee morale can sustain.
Steps to institute and maintain a high-morale culture
You can’t just snap your fingers to generate high morale, so let’s go over some strategies.
Craft policies around the best employees
The best companies I’ve worked for have policies that show they trust their employees. Unfortunately, most companies craft their policies to keep their worst 5% of employees in line, and not reward their best 95% of employees.
The result here is a chasm between senior leadership and the rest of the workforce. Employees receive a message that says “we don’t totally trust you.” Naturally, when employees hear this message their morale drops as does the quality of their work.
Equip your employees
This doesn’t necessarily mean having the best tech at your office. Sure, top of the line technology is nice, but the goal should be to provide your employees with everything they need to do their job.
When it comes to sales teams, most of what you need to provide is training. If your employees are equipped with the skills to do their job well, they’ll perform better and accomplish more. It might go without saying, but high achieving employees typically get more fulfillment from their job, and in turn, their morale stays high.
There is no shortage of research out there that suggests positive psychology has a positive impact on sales teams.
If you’re in sales, you’re probably familiar with the notion of a hot streak. Well, it might not surprise you that these hot streaks are often driven by positivity that is a result of high achievement.
It works like a feedback loop. Create a positive environment to increase the performance of your sales team. That increased performance will continue to propel your team to even more success.
Conclusion: There’s no one right way to boost morale at work
Unfortunately, you can’t systemize everything, and creating a culture where early-employee morale is maintained is another one of those things that can’t be universalized.
Every organization is different, and there’s no one right way to go about creating a high-morale culture. So, be vigilant and stay tuned-in to your employees are experiencing. Similar to parenting, if you care enough to try to create a good work environment, you’ll probably do just fine.