August 15, 2014

Fight the Summer Slump: 10 Tips to Boost Office Morale


Happy employees because someone decided to boost office moraleIt’s been summer for a WHILE now. Your practice might still be humming, but the plants in the window are looking wilted, and so is your team. One employee is thinking about her vacation plans more than the patients, and another is clocking out early to hit the pool. They all come in a little hot, a little bored, a little tired… including you and the doctor, come to think of it. It’s the summer slump! What can you do today, as a manager, to boost office morale?

Plenty! For most of us, summer isn’t the right time of year for complex strategies or multi-step management plans… ask us in September. For now, there’s sunshine a-plenty outdoors, and we just need to bring more of it in. To make it all simple, here are our easy-breeziest tips for improving the mood of your team today – a surefire method for improving your mood tomorrow.

10 HR tips for un-slumping your summer and boosting office morale:

1.    Smile! It really is contagious. Those people who light up the room with every smile, and could find the bright side of a power outage at midnight? They’re onto something. If you find ways to be more lighthearted in your own approach to work and the way you manage problems, you will likely find employees following suit, and everyone’s moods will improve.

2.    Perk up the practice. Take a look around the team’s workstations and the break area – can anything be done quickly and cheaply to make work life better and more convenient? Don’t blow your budget here, but employees appreciate it when management cares about fixing problems or annoying issues within the work environment.

3.    Say your magic words. What your mama said about please and thank you is true: consideration and appreciation go farther than you’d think. Plus, public and private thank-yous are different creatures. A quick thank-you when it can be overheard by peers makes an employee feel competent, appreciated, and accomplished. On the other hand, pulling a team member aside to say, “Hey, I really appreciated how you helped out with that difficult patient,” helps you bond and lets them know you personally noticed and valued their support. Both are important.

4.    Surprise team members with small gifts for outstanding performance. Mini-perks, like a gas card, a small gift certificate, or a fun event, can be economical ways to make employees feel special and rewarded. (Just don’t play favorites.)

5.    Schedule some fun. Maybe your practice has mile-high monthly production goals, or maybe you slow down during the August doldrums. Doesn’t matter; scale the fun to fit the schedule and your team. Do something you haven’t done in a while, like Egg-McMuffin-Monday, or something new and crazy, like a hula-hooping competition out back. Any team event can be a great way to bond. Just take your practice’s work culture (and safety) into account, and remember that the goal is to be inclusive but never compulsory.

6.    Recognize milestones. You don’t have to do a lot, but most people get warm fuzzies when their birthday or work anniversary is remembered and considered special. (Just make the same effort for each employee.) For larger groups, consider individual cards and then a group lunch every month or two for recent/upcoming dates. Set a time when everyone can attend.

7.    Let your team see and hear the difference they make. It feels good to know you have a positive impact on people’s lives. So when you get positive patient feedback, pass it along as quickly and frequently as you can. Check your recent comments, whether in the office or online. (If there’s not a way for patients to provide great feedback, consider creating one. And deal with anything negative at a different time than the positive feedback.)

8.    Tackle morale-drainers. Have an underperformer who is starting to infect other employees? It’s time to get your documentation in order. Help them self-correct if possible, and deal with the situation if correction isn’t going to happen. Letting one or two employees slack off isn’t fair to your harder workers, but dealing with a toxic underperformer can help build morale back up. (Need to know how to approach this, or have a more difficult management problem? Give CEDR’s HR Advisors a call at 866-414-6056.)

9.    Set attainable mini-goals. Attainability is the key word here, and employee excitement is the point, whether the reward is cash, a $25 gift card, or something sillier. (Make sure the terms of any incentive bonus are in writing.)

10.   Find out what your team wants. You can make this multiple-choice if you need to. Would they rather have a team lunch or a weekend barbecue? Can the practice offer more schedule flexibility or a little work-from-home time if certain parameters are met? Are there classes the company would willingly help pay for? Or are employees yearning to make a difference with a charity/volunteer activity? (This would have to be optional, and you often have to pay for time they represent the company – but it can still be a winner.) Let your team tell you what motivates and engages them best, and you’ve doubled the effectiveness of any suggestion you implement.

And that’s it! An anti-boredom tip a day keeps employee blues away, and soon you’ll have the whole team straightening their shoulders and picking up the pace. Start anywhere you like, and incorporate these techniques and tricks into your repertoire, this summer and throughout the year.

Here’s to a sizzlingly fun management season at your practice.

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

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Please note: CEDR Solutions specializes in providing expert HR support to owners and operators of independently owned medical and dental practices.