Easy stuff you can do to keep morale up

May 21, 2023


Stop being so preoccupied with problem solving and instead focus on the things you can do to make someone’s day a little bit better.

Let’s face it: Everyone needs a little boost every now and then. Even those of us who are hard workers and highly motivated can get down or discouraged, or negative at times.

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s assume that about 20 percent of the people working in AEC firms are at least a little down at any given point in time. That really hurts morale and productivity, especially when you consider that each of those people could let their negativity and discouragement be known to someone else in the firm.

There are plenty of things you can do to help keep morale up. Here are a few of them:

  1. Share new projects with every single employee. I don’t know why more companies don’t do this, because it is so easy to do. If you had an email go out to everyone each time you got a new project – as they come in – there would probably be a number of these sent throughout the day. That’s great!
  2. Along with these new project announcements, you can ring a bell, bang a gong (if the new job is over a certain size), or play a victory song through the PA system. It just keeps things exciting and keeps reminding everyone that good things are happening!
  3. Hold an office cleanup day. Years of working with AEC firms all over the country has shown me that many have messy offices, or at least have offices that could look a lot better. Open the blinds. Pick up the trash. Turn on the lights. Clean up the lobby and company lunch and conference rooms. Peel the tape off the front doors. Freshen up the bathrooms. Paint something that needs painting. Have the carpet cleaned. Everyone feels better when you do that.
  4. Give away free car wash coupons. Everybody feels better with a clean car. Work with your local car wash to come up with coupons or gift cards for a free car wash. Spring for the ones where they clean the windows and interior, too. Your people will love it.
  5. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and accomplishments. Don’t spend a lot of time doing this stuff, but do it. Get creative on the food, too. Why does everything have to be a sheet cake? How about baklava, donuts, or pizza to celebrate? Make it fun. Play music. Do something to bring people together for fun and celebration.
  6. Give away free “merch!” Stickers with the company name and logo. Shirts that aren’t 50/50 cotton/poly T-shirts (I can’t stand them!). Jump drives. Posters of cool projects. There are a million things people will actually want and use that will brighten up their days.
  7. Manage by walking around. Always good to do. And how about surprising someone with a lunch offer they didn’t expect? It’s a nice way to get to know your people better in a one-on-one with a free lunch.
  8. Make phone calls to check in on people you don’t normally talk with. This is the remote version of managing by walking around. People appreciate it when you show you care by checking in on them.
  9. Do a weekly email or letter to all staff. I always recommend that all new CEOs or group managers do this, but established ones can do the same thing. Be positive. Talk about the good things that happened during the week and the good things to come. Don’t make it too long. People will appreciate it and you can keep everyone focused on the company mission, vision, and goals.
  10. Organize optional group activities like morning bike rides or yoga sessions, or field trips of some sort. These have to be optional because no one likes feeling obligated to do stuff with their fellow workers on their own time. But fun, physical stuff that gets people’s blood moving or gets them out of the office can be morale boosters.

When you are the leader, there is always something you can do to make someone’s day a little bit better. Stop being so preoccupied with problem solving and work on doing some of this other stuff. You may be surprised what it will do for morale! 

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.