5 Ideas that Will Skyrocket Your Team’s Morale

Even if you’ve got the best product and a super-clear message, your business can’t thrive unless you’ve got the right team powering it all.

Every team is made up of individuals, and those individuals have made a decision to spend their time working for your company.

Too few companies realize that their people have options for where they’ll work. It’s easy to assume that our employees are the “lucky ones” since we’ve provided a job and income. But without our employees, our businesses would simply shut down. If you’ve got great employees, you’re the lucky one.

Employees who feel taken for granted will likely go find another job. Talented people are always in high demand.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a few ideas of how to care for your employees so they feel valued. I like to go beyond the typical “employee handbook” style of benefits. 401(k) plans and health care are crucial, of course, but they’re not the whole picture of making sure your employees know you care about them.

If you’re complacent about your employees’ morale, you’ll find it’s hard to keep great talent to power your business. Try a few of these ideas to build a thriving company culture, and you’ll see the end result in lower turnover, higher productivity, and a palpable sense of energy around the office.

Treat Encouragement Like Currency

If you’re running a startup, there’s not always money in the budget to pay people what they really deserve. With time, your company will grow and the revenue will increase. Then, you’ll be able to deliver the kind of salaries and bonuses your employees merit.

Until then, there are other things you can do to make people feel appreciated aside from giving them more money.

Encouraging words are like currency. There’s value in telling employees how much you appreciate them.

Something beautiful happens when you stop to tell someone they’re doing a great job and how the company is exponentially better because of their work.

But don’t be manipulative. It would be a shame to encourage someone with the intent of getting something out of them in return. Instead, give encouragement because it’s the right thing to do.

Something beautiful happens when you stop to tell someone they’re doing a great job and how the company is exponentially better because of their work.

For any business, there’s enough encouragement to go around. Give away encouragement like a philanthropist gives away money.

Get Together Outside of Work

We certainly share our personal lives with each other in the office. But with all the work-related conversations we have, that small talk is usually just short updates when we get to the office or right before we leave for the weekend. It’s not enough to forge real bonds of friendship.

That’s why I love spending time together outside of the office, where the conversation turns to what’s really going on in our lives. Even though we’re doing work we love, it’s a nice break from work talk.

Twice in the past couple of years, our friend Ben Rector has played a show at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. We buy a handful of tickets and use it as an opportunity to take the staff out for dinner and a concert.

We get to the office the next morning with a renewed sense of togetherness. Bringing everyone together with their spouses for a few hours of fun keeps us close. Like family.

The richest conversations I’ve had with my team are those we’ve had outside of the office making a memory at the Ryman. And while that’s more than enough reward, that foundation of friendship helps us solve problems and collaborate more effectively when we’re working, too.

Invest in Snacks

When most people hear “employee benefits,” they think of health insurance, a 401k, and all the other traditional benefits companies typically offer to their employees. But when I hear employee benefits, I think about very different things.

For example, to me, stocking the office with great coffee and snacks is an employee benefit. It’s a perk for working at our office.

When it comes to employment, talented people have no shortage of options. If we’re going to keep the best people working for us, we need to think about more than just what serves the company.

Whenever we add a new team member, we ask what their favorite snacks and drinks are. When those are readily available, people feel at home. At the grocery store, we stock up on what our staff likes the most: Grab the Gold bars, popcorn, Sour Patch Kids, almonds, beef jerky, oatmeal, Good Spread peanut butter, Gatorade, and La Croix (in the best flavor, muré pepino).

When it comes to employment, talented people have no shortage of options. If we’re going to keep the best people working for us, we need to think about more than just what serves the company. Instead, we need to think about ways to serve our staff and make sure they are cared for.

Reward Your Team When Goals Are Accomplished

I have a friend who runs a nonprofit called Love Does. They fight for freedom and human rights in Uganda, India, Somalia, Iraq, and Nepal.

This past year, both our company and theirs adopted an internal framework for getting things done called 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX). One of the keys in 4DX is to set goals and have them displayed visually on a scoreboard.

Unless the team has a scoreboard, there’s no way for everyone to know if the team is winning or losing. There’s no way to know if the work being done each week in the office is making an impact.

And research actually proves this. A study by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University, found that people who wrote down and shared their goals with a friend were 42% more likely to achieve them.

But visibility is just a part of your success. When the Love Does team created their scoreboard, they listed a reward next to each goal. The bigger the goal, the bigger the reward.

Inspired by this, we did the same. The rewards vary: working at a coffee shop, having lunch at our favorite burrito place, or leaving early on a Friday afternoon are a few of the rewards that are on our board now.

Too often, the company is the only one who wins when a goal is reached. Putting a reward in place for hitting a goal lets the team know they’re appreciated. When your company wins, your employees should win, too.

Play Frisbee, Even When You’re Busy

One weekend, our CEO Donald Miller put together a 9-hole frisbee golf course behind our office (which sits on about an acre of land). He said, “Can you see the telephone pole across the street? That’s Hole 1. And then the little white pole sticking out of the ground over there? That’s Hole 2.”

@kylereid has perfected his pre-shot routine and has seen a drastic improvement in his scores.

A post shared by Tim Schurrer (@timschurrer) on

Needless to say, we play a lot more frisbee golf now. In fact, we try to get out there and play every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

We actually got so into it that we gave it a name and made a real scorecard for the course!

Some days, it’s hard to walk away from my massive to-do list and step outside to play. But we still do it. And the result has surprised me. I get way more work done when I take a break, get outside, and have a good conversation with my buddies.

You need rest to be productive, but there’s no need to wait for the weekend. Give your staff the freedom to take the kind of breaks that energize them — to read a novel, do a few yoga poses, or go for a brisk walk.

I hope these ideas inspire you to think differently about your company culture. What small things can you do that will make a big difference in your employees’ morale? With a little bit of intention on your part, you can value — and keep — your most talented employees.

How do you build morale? Leave a comment and share your ideas with the rest of us!

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