It absolutely stuns me that here we are, it’s 2014, and we still have workplaces scattered around this country that are reminiscent of what your parents or grandparents worked in. Dry, boring, bland, intimidating work spaces that foster no creativity and innovation. Because of that, these work spaces are often breeding grounds for high turnover, due to jaded and burnt-out workers who aren’t appreciated or allowed to help the company grow.

employee-morale-happyThe problem is that the owners and managers of these companies are perfectly OK with that, because, well, why change something if it’s paying the bills? Keep your office zombie’s pumping out the mediocre work on those accounts that barely pay the rent. I can’t say for sure, but I’m willing to bet that 99 out of 100 of these companies could probably be making at least three times the revenue if they took minimal time and resources and began to foster a positive, productive work environment for their employees. Do you know where your employee’s morale level is, right now?

No, it doesn’t have to be expensive! The list of suggestions below can be implemented by nearly any business, small or large. You don’t have to act on all of them, even one is probably better than what you’re doing now – hey, it’s a start. And this list is a very small example of other similar ideas that you may think of while reading it. Don’t be afraid to get creative because when your employees are empowered, it will do wonders for your company and the bottom line.

6 ways to get those employees out of zombie-cubicle-land:

Mix things up. Do you have any idea how boring a routine can become, especially if repeated over the course of years? It can, and has lead people to just up and say, “that’s it, I’m done” and walk out. We’ve all seen it before. So, take a step back, and look at the day. I’m willing to bet there’s at least one routine, whether it be a meeting or a specific task, that can be done at a different time or maybe even in a different way. Try it? What do you have to lose? Just the simple act of changing one task around will get your employees’ attention and could be a great inroad to making other positive changes. The key here is to show you care.

Mandatory walks. This is a fun one. Did you know that sitting is being touted as the new smoking? Yeah, seriously. Sitting all day will, without a doubt, kill you a lot sooner in life. So in order to show your employees that you prefer them to live, make them (weather permitting) walk around for 5 minutes throughout the day. Or give them 10 minutes to take a walk around the building. Make them do it as a group (think, gym class back in the day, walking around the track). It gives employees a chance to mingle, and get the blood flowing, which is directly related to a more positive attitude, thus increasing morale. Oh, yeah, this is free.

Rearrange the office. The simple act of rearranging the office, maybe throwing some new paint on the walls and some simple furniture updates can go a very long way in showing employees you care. Hire a designer who is up on the latest trends in colors and design, give them a budget, and modernize your office. This will make your company look good not only in front of employees, but prospective clients and customers, as well.

Listen to your top-thinkers. If you have a stable of employees who have been around for awhile, chances are actually good that they know the company as well, if not sometimes better than you, the owner or manager. So seek them out. Ask them what their thoughts are on what could be better, what could be changed. This is absolutely huge, because by reaching out to your unofficial leaders and getting them involved, the trickle-down effect to the rest of the employees will be noticeable. Reach out to the ones who have social office influence. They can shape the entire attitude of a department in a positive way.

Office game day. This is such an easy, cheap, amazingly fun way to boost troop morale, leadership, and give departments a chance to interact with one another. By having a monthly game day, you can gather your company (or part of it) and really form bonds that will have a lasting impression on the workers. When they see the boss tossing yard darts with the mailroom guy, it says a lot. It says, “just because I outrank you, we’re still equals in life” and everyone will appreciate it. You can go as fancy or as simple as you want, from board games to an outing to a mini-golf course. The point is to get them together having fun, including management and ownership, if possible. Go a step further and offer prizes to winners (time off, vacation day, lunch gift certificate, trophy, etc etc), this makes it especially fun and your employees will look forward to each and every event.

Recognize your employees. This is often the number one complaint among employees – they don’t feel like their work is important because they’re not being recognized for it. So here’s an idea, besides making an extra effort to tell someone something as simple as “hey, Johnson, great job on that XYZ report”, you could perhaps do a quarterly employee award ceremony. Get creative. Take a few bucks and get some little trophies made up, or certificates, and have a list of awards you can give out, some serious ones and some funny ones, like, “best office haircut.” Your group will get a kick out of this and look forward to it every time!