We all know that high morale and job satisfaction drive excellent employee performance. What is more of a mystery is how to create a company culture that promotes the levels of morale and satisfaction that lead to high performance.

The answer turns out to be simpler than you might think. If you follow these five tips, you should see improvements in morale, job satisfaction, and — by extent — employee performance:

1. Be Transparent About Your Company’s Vision

To be engaged and satisfied at work, employees need to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. They want to know their daily efforts contribute to an important goal or strategy. If employees’ work is not contextualized with respect to the company mission, they will have little to no understanding of how their work impacts the organization or their coworkers. As a result, employees will feel disconnected and superfluous.

Your employees should fully understand their positions within the company. As early as the initial interview, you should be sharing your company’s vision and explaining to candidates how their efforts will push the organization forward. This ensures that any new hires will be walking into the company already feeling connected to the mission. Of course, your work doesn’t stop there: You need to be continuously transparent about the company’s direction and operations. Employees should be kept up to date on all the company goings-on. Otherwise, their connection to the organization may diminish over time.

If employees understand and are invested in the company’s vision, they will be much more motivated to perform. They will also be far happier knowing they are part of a well-functioning team working together to reach a common aim.

2. Celebrate Birthdays, Weddings, Babies, and Other Big Events

Don’t let your employees feel anonymous in their own workplace. Take time to acknowledge and celebrate personal milestones and important events. If money is an issue, celebrations don’t need to come at a high cost. In fact, a simple workplace announcement could be enough to lift your employees’ spirits. Get involved in your employees’ lives. Show them they have a caring network of people to rely on at work.

As Incorporate Massage founder and CEO Amelia Wilcox told Forbes, “When people are loved, they will give more than you can imagine they could for you and your cause.”

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3. When You Can Be Flexible, Be Flexible

Studies show that flexibility — whether it’s flexible hours or remote work arrangements — can improve employees’ moods, give morale a boost, and ultimately drive productivity.

There are many different forms of flexible work, so you need to find the one that works best for your organization and its employees. It can be difficult to shake up the status quo, and organizational change is never easy. But being bold enough to take a chance can seriously pay off down the line — and companies that remain stuck in the past are unlikely to flourish in the future. If you can’t give them what they want, your high-performing employees will jump ship to another organization that is more accommodating and trusting.

4. Recognize and Reward Effort, Not Simply Accomplishment

One of the leading causes of low morale is a lack of recognition and reward. If your business has already incorporated employee recognition into its performance management system, that’s great — but remember that employees need recognition for their efforts in addition to their accomplishments.

In other words, don’t hog all the recognition and rewards for quotas met and targets hit. If an employee is trying particularly hard to achieve a certain goal or learn a specific skill, highlight their efforts and give them some encouragement.

Studies show that a growth mindset — which focuses on the effort to reach a desired outcome rather than on the outcome in isolation — results in more motivated, productive people. Encourage a growth mindset in your employees by recognizing and rewarding their efforts.

5. Cultivate Meaningful Relationships 

Human beings are social creatures, so of course we want to build relationships with the people in our offices. After all, we spend at least 40 hours a week with our coworkers and managers!

Strong relationships with managers can be particularly influential in terms of employee engagement and morale. To capitalize on this fact, managers should make time for regular  catch-ups with their employees. Not only are these powerful relationship-building opportunities, but they are also chances to discuss performance, exchange feedback, and deliver much-needed recognition.

One of the most notable performance management trends in 2019 so far has been the increasing adoption of regular coaching conversations, in which managers and employees reflect together on the employee’s performance and decide how to progress in the future. Such honest and authentic dialogue encourages trust and appreciation, which together serve as a great foundation for meaningful workplace relationships.

Stuart Hearn is CEO and founder of Clear Review.

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