During this recent period of economic difficulty, one frequent question our clients have asked is “What can we do to boost staff morale without breaking the bank?” This is a great question at any time, but applies especially now as many companies have been through force reductions – which always affects morale. Below is a list of compiled suggestions that you may find helpful for giving your employees just the morale boost they need.

Ideas for Low-Cost Morale Boosters

Simply saying “thank you” does not cost a penny and goes an incredibly long way. There are many creative ways to say thanks such as:

* Write a note of appreciation
* Award a certificate of appreciation
* Leave a thank you post it note in the employee’s work area
* Announce your thanks over the company’s paging system
* Publicly express your thanks at a company meeting or event

Random Acts of Kindness (similar to the holiday favorite Secret Santa). Employees that choose to participate choose the name of another participating employee and sometime that week do a little something for their chosen person. Some ideas are doing their chosen person’s filing, answering their phone, bringing them a flower or bringing them a doughnut and a cup of coffee.

Hold a silly contest such as; Ugliest Tie, Silliest Socks, Ugliest Pants or Ugliest Sweater and award prizes to the winners.

Have “Late Day Mondays.” If possible, once a month allow your employees to arrive an hour late on a Monday morning – or leave an hour early on a Friday.

Sponsor a “Noon Movie.” Once a month (depending on employee schedules), set up a VCR in the lunchroom and show a funny movie during lunch. If time is limited, show reruns of “Seinfeld,” “Fraser,” or other comedies. You can also have employees sign up to bring in their favorite movies to share with their co-workers.

Run a “Guess the Baby” contest. Ask the staff to bring in baby photos and post them on the wall. Award a prize to the employee(s) who can guess the most correctly.

Conduct non-monetary office pools on high profile events such as the Oscars, the Superbowl or the NBA Championship.

Have a pot-luck, which encourages employee participation and is cost effective. In addition, there are a plethora of variations such as; breakfast or lunch, holiday themes, cuisine from different cultures, color themed foods or an all dessert pot-luck.

Set up a “Humor Corner.” Designate one section of the office as the place for humor, and encourage employees to post cartoons, jokes, or other funny material. Purchase some disposable cameras and ask employees to randomly take candid shots of each other, and add them to the “Humor Corner.” (Make sure to get the employee in the photo’s permission before posting.)

Send birthday and / or anniversary cards to employee’s homes. This simple and sweet gesture will remind employees that you care about them as people.

Take your employee out for a cup of coffee or if you manage a number of employees, bring coffee and bagels one morning for the entire group.

Many of the suggestions above are contests and of course, contests should have prizes. Prizes do not have to be elaborate and there are many low cost prizes, such as:

* A pair of movie tickets
* An hour or two of paid time off
* Leaving an hour early or coming in an hour late
* Granting an extended lunch period
* A special parking space for a day, week or month
* Place a photo of the winner(s) on the “Humor Board”
* Print out Award Certificates
* $10.00 gift cards to a local coffee shop, yogurt shop or gas station.
* Flowers or a plant for their desk(s)
* Box of chocolates or a jar of candy/trail mix