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We all have tides at work where we don’t feel our best. Maybe it’s exhaustion, stress or “just one of those days”. But, when these short tides turn into big waves of disengagement and lack of motivation at work, it becomes an employee morale problem.

The good news is that organisations are becoming proactive in tackling issues concerning mental health and emotional wellbeing at work. Leadership teams are looking at company policies critically and trading them for more employee and team-centric ones.

In this post, we delve into some of the core ideas put forward by Sameera Khan, Director of People Success at inFeedo, who explains:

  • psychological frameworks used by organisations to create high employee morale
  • tips to be proactive about employee morale
  • ways to promote a culture of care in your organisation

Maslow’s need hierarchy: Start-up edition

A quick check on the internet shows you multiple psychological theories on boosting your employees’ morale and productivity at work. However, bridging the gap between theory and reality can be a mammoth task. Sameera recommends startups and other young organisations stick to the basics. She adapted Maslow’s need hierarchy — a model more suitable for small organisations' constraints.

In short, the theory states that people are motivated by specific psychological needs. The fundamental needs are seen at the bottom of the pyramid, while the self-actualisation needs are placed at the top. The core idea is that the basic needs should be met before one can unlock higher-level needs.

In Sameera’s version, reaching a high morale point requires organisations to start by providing basic hygiene. This means each employee should clearly understand their role and responsibility.

(At inFeedo), we have KPIs for an open position. For example, if we know we want to hire someone, we have KPIs at the start itself. Over the years, we realised that has really helped us create value for that particular role because they understand that when they join, they will be responsible for something important.

Sameera Khan

Another crucial part of basic hygiene is compensation benchmarking to ensure that salaries remain consistent with the market.

Then comes security needs. From employees’ point of view, this translates to understanding if the organisation they’re working for will continue to be successful years later and if their teammates have all the resources required to succeed. ESOPs also play a role in meeting security needs — one of the crucial ways of creating value for your team members and showcasing the power of wealth creation.

Next comes the need to be part of an inclusive team and be heard and valued. A sense of community and belonging also helps employers build high morale. This brings us to the respect and recognition stage, where fair appraisals and promotions are timely practices that should be followed at an organisation so that employees understand their career trajectory. At the same time, company brand and direction are other factors employees associate with.

Once these needs are met comes the final stage, the high morale stage, where employees are highly engaged and have high ownership. They become the needle movers for the organisation and can scale projects from zero to one.

A proactive approach to employee morale

Being proactive with how everyone feels at work and recognising their efforts, regardless of how big or small, goes a long way in boosting employee morale. This helps employees bring their best selves to work! Sameera notes that two factors — direct and indirect — help people teams at organisations stay on top of employee morale.

Direct factors are relatively straightforward. These appear as eNPS every quarter, performance reviews and Glassdoor ratings. Indirect factors, on the other hand, are geared towards introspection.

When you wake up, are you excited about your Monday morning, or are you (wondering), “oh no, I have to open my laptop again”? Nobody should have to wake up on a Monday morning and question what they are doing. They should be able to feel really excited.

Sameera Khan

How inFeedo uses Amber to determine how their employees are feeling

Amber, inFeedo’s flagship AI product, checks in with employees periodically to assess if anyone at work feels disengaged, in distress or is about to leave.

She identifies people who are not happy with their onboarding, people who are unhappy after completing one year, and people who are not happy after a promotion or a manager change. It’s really important to hear what your team wants, and we always take a decision in a democratic way.

Sameera Khan

Since Amber is a conversational chatbot, she can dive into the specifics of a problem identified and create actionable insights for HRs and key decision-makers to take quick action.

Promote a culture of care

Every organisation wants to nail the culture game. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a great and healthy work environment? But what does it mean to create a healthy work culture? Sameera shares that creating a culture of care at work begins with leading by trust. Simple acts of letting people take time off to recuperate, being upfront about salaries and trusting employees to provide outcomes at their pace go a long way.

Proactively listen and take feedback from employees. And finally, the age-old advice: always treat people the same way you’d like to be treated. Impressions go a long way, and it is always good to be remembered for the good you’ve done! :)

inFeedo partnered with Plum in 2020 to get their team group health insurance and benefits. With the help of Plum’s HR dashboard, Sameera and her team cut onboarding time from weeks to minutes. inFeedo also prioritised employee wellness despite being in a remote setup through Plum’s wellness sessions. 

Grab the gist of the entire conversation here.

Ultimately, inFeedo has built a culture of care by listening to its employees from day one and creating transparency between the leadership and the rest of the team. If this sounds like a train you want to hop on and a culture you want to cultivate, you can start by speaking to one of our experts

Like what you read, check out our previous blog post where we deep-dive into hiring and retention strategies with Achuthanand Ravi, the founder of Kula.

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