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After layoffs, are there affordable ways to boost morale?

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Question: “Since layoffs hit our office, people have been understandably down. Now my boss has asked me for ideas about a possible good will gesture toward all employees. The problem, of course, is that we can spend virtually no money! Does anyone have any budget-conscious notions that might restore a little trust in management?”  – Danny, Point of Rocks, Md.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Joan November 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm

There is a little business management book called “Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale” that has some good ideas. I once saw a video clip of a Chief Morale Officer roller skating around the cubicles wearing a balloon hat and crazy stockings with a basket of Kit-Kats and other treats, tossing them to fellow co workers and causing a brief “laugh break”. The idea of a designated “silly time”, with batted balloons, or remote control cars in specific aisles, or other such frivolity would go a long way toward perking up a group of battle-worn survivors in the office.

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Jocelyn November 21, 2012 at 11:11 am

That’s a tough one. Here food always works, maybe a urprise luncheon or even a surprise lunch out, telling the staff all work is done early and the boss is taking everyone out for lunch. Yearly we close and take the staff on an outing, then mid year we give them some money, like $13 per person and give them a 2 hour paid lunch to go out in designated groups to have lunch together (no bosses).

I also feel like honesty works best. If I was instructed to lay people off I think their main concern would be if they were next and you don’t want to lose good people because they fear losing their job and are now out looking. Not sure if the layoffs are done at your place but if they are a sinerence one on one with the staff and their manager about their job sercurity may go the furthest in boosting morale. Last year we were on the verge of doing some layoffs for the first time but managed to steer away but the staff knows when business is down so at our Christmas party the owner gave a speech that included that everyone’s job was safe from layoffs and I tell you that went far with the staff.

Good Luck

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SaraLee November 20, 2012 at 8:18 am

Our company once had a games fair where we had to stage a little county-fair type of game in our offices and give away prizes–the prizes could be anything we had lying around and just wanted to get rid of! That led to some funny moments, but what I remember is that the whole office shut down for the afternoon and everyone was wandering around from office to office to see what silly games they could play. It wound up being the most fun we’d ever had, and it didn’t cost anything at all!

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Branson November 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Where I work, food is the universal cure for the blahs. If someone just shows up with doughnuts or cookies everyone gets kind of happy, and I think it also has the effect of bringing everyone physically together around a table for just a few seconds.

We also do things like have a communal bulletin board that’s just for movie reviews. That sounds weird, but everyone is always posting there, even the higher-ups. It’s something we all kind of share that’s silly and fun. Little things like that make a difference.

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Holly Heinz November 19, 2012 at 8:51 am

Our boss did something once that was totally unexpected and totally boosted morale–he just decided one afternoon that everyone was working too hard and he told everyone on the spur of the moment to just go home and enjoy themselves, to pretend that there was a fire alarm and take the rest of the afternoon off! Now, we’re kind of a small staff so that wouldn’t work for everyone, but wow, it lifted everyone’s spirits!

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Laura November 15, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Perhaps you could 1) put up a suggestion box and 2) schedule monthly potlucks. Make the potlucks events where management can communicate goals and strategies with employees in a relaxed manner. The goal is to build a team spirit. And be sure to seriously consider those suggestions BEFORE the potluck and discuss them openly AT the potluck! Good luck!

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L November 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Depending on what type of company you work for and the atmosphere, have approved “play time” the last Friday of each month at 4pm. Examples would be racing remote controlled cars down a designated hallway, popping popcorn for everyone to snack on, watching an old funny rerun in the conference room such as I Love Lucy, playing cards or having a tournament of some sort, … you get the point. Again, it depends on your company’s style.

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Rhonda November 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm

You may try having a lunch time potluck or afternoon gathering where people can just gather and have light refreshments. Seating should be limited for the afternoon gathering so people are moving around and engaging in conversation and perhaps talking with colleagues they may not have time to speak with during the day.

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