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How to build morale in your business

12 July 2023 | 3 min read

People want your business to succeed. With a little intervention, you can galvanise your team, show your leadership credentials and keep the momentum going.

Whatever your business, it’s likely that your employees are some of your most important assets. As a business owner, you rely on your people every day to work and support your business. So promoting staff morale and well-being, building a cohesive team and recognising the needs of your staff is vital. When the team feels supported, they want your business to succeed.

There are periods that can offer risks to staff morale, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. When your business is in a growth phase, it’s often an exciting time, but there may be increased pressure on staff.

Perhaps there’s increased demand for your products or services, but you haven’t yet been able to boost production capacity or recruit extra staff. You might be asking people to take on additional shifts or new responsibilities. Staff are scrambling to keep up and may face rising stress and fatigue.

As a smaller business, you may not have the luxury of having a human resources department to address these issues. But there are many measures you can put in place to support and engage with your team.

Beware of burnout

Factors such as long hours, pressure to perform, changing shifts or a lack of control can cause increased stress amongst staff during times of growth or change. If this continues for a long period, chronic stress leads to burnout: exhaustion, loss of motivation and reduced satisfaction at work. This can affect both performance and morale. Long-term, it may even lead to losing staff.

As a business owner, you’re responsible for the welfare of your staff. If you see signs of stress or burnout in your team, it’s time to act. Acknowledge the problem and demonstrate that you’re keen to support people and address causes. Discourage people from overworking and look for solutions to relieve pressure in the short and longer term.

More than anything else, you need to listen. Take as much time as is necessary to sit down with your team members, and work through challenges with empathy and compassion.

Flexible working arrangements

We know that people have lives outside of work: managing kids, family commitments, appointments, hobbies. People value workplaces that allow them to balance all aspects of their lives. It’s become expected that workplaces offer some level of flexibility about how and when employees work.

There are many options that businesses can adopt. For industries where it’s possible, offering flexible start and finish times, working-from-home arrangements and the option of compressed hours can help to support workers to achieve work-life balance. Other ideas include split shifts, compressed hours, job-sharing or purchasing extra leave.

Be open to ideas and engage with your staff, so they feel respected and confident to approach you with suggestions. There are likely to be benefits for your business too, such as improved staff retention, or lower costs if you no longer need office space for all your employees.

Build a tight team

Feeling part of a functioning team, where others care for your well-being even during stressful times, helps to increase staff work satisfaction and decrease absenteeism. But care can’t be forced: it must be fostered. As a business owner, your actions create the culture of your business. You can shape the workplace to be positive, inclusive and collaborative.

Relatively small gestures can demonstrate that you value your team. For example: communicate clearly about issues or change in the workplace, acknowledge challenges, and get to know your staff on a personal level. You can build connections between people by celebrating staff achievements or milestones, in the workplace or their broader lives, and holding events such as regular team lunches.

If you show compassion, care and empathy for your staff, you’ll understand better what they need in order to feel supported. Meanwhile, they’ll feel valued and more committed to your business.

Explore your team’s potential

Your staff are capable: that’s why you employed them. When you have people who can get the important tasks done, it means you can focus on other things. But are you working with your employees to best use their talents and experience?

If staff don’t have the opportunity to develop new skills and contribute ideas, over time this can limit the contribution they can make to your business. It may also lead to people feeling under-appreciated or becoming bored, which can affect morale.

Be open to feedback and suggestions about the way your business operates. Long-term staff are going to understand your business well, and may have ideas for improvement as your business grows and evolves. Newer employees can bring fresh perspectives on existing processes or markets. By giving employees the opportunity to pitch ideas, lead projects and step outside their usual role into new areas of interest, you’re saying ‘I have confidence in you’.

Sometimes people will need new skills or knowledge in order to take on different tasks, get across new technology, or grow into leadership roles. You could consider investing in training for staff, to strengthen their skills in an area of interest that’s relevant to your business. This can be win-win: staff feel more satisfied and interested as they have opportunities for growth and development, while your business benefits from having people with up-to-date skills.

Relationships matter

The relationships that you build with your team are what builds morale, and drives success for your business. Take care of them, and they’ll take care of business.

At Bendigo Bank, we strive to build relationships with our customers and understand their business. We have a range of specialists who can work with you to find the right solutions for your business. Make an enquiry today.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited, ABN 11 068 049 178 AFSL / Australian Credit Licence 237879. Any advice provided in this article is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal needs, objectives and financial circumstances. You should consider whether it is appropriate for your situation. Please read the applicable Disclosure Documents before acquiring any product described in this article. Please also review our Financial Services Guide (FSG) before accessing information in this article. Information in this article can change without notice to you.


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Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited, ABN 11 068 049 178 AFSL / Australian Credit Licence 237879. Any advice provided on this website is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal needs, objectives and financial circumstances. You should consider whether it is appropriate for your situation. Please read the applicable Disclosure Documents before acquiring any product described on this website. Please also review our Financial Services Guide (FSG) before accessing information on this website. Information on this page can change without notice to you.

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