Putting numbers on the cost of low morale is tricky and will inevitably be more of an estimation compared to other financial drivers within a business. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done and in a previous post, we made detailed estimates of the financial costs. Productivity, creativity, and innovation are all undermined when employees are struggling or disengaged. We came to the bold conclusion that low team morale can amount in losses of approximately £800,000 ($1m) a year for an average 200-person business.
The currency of wellbeing is time not money
However, it is fair to also say that this financial figure is a bit unrelatable. A loss of a million dollars a year for a 200-person company – is that a big or small amount?
Maybe it’s unrelatable as it’s the wrong currency? So instead of pounds and dollars, perhaps the currency of wellbeing and happiness is time?
In fact, once we recognize that improving team culture isn’t about paying people more money – it’s about consistently listening to people, having strong team communication, and recognizing individual and team efforts. It becomes obvious that these activities don’t cost money, but they do require time and empathy.
So, the two critical questions to ask are:
- How much time does it take to create a happy successful team?
- How much better will team members use their time in a happy team?
It starts with empathy
The foundation of a happy team is the quality of the relationships, and we all know from personal experience that relationships are not always easy. So, we can’t expect that better relationships will just spring up overnight, they will take time to build - especially if the culture hasn’t been supportive in the past.
Empathy is a crucial part of the time investment businesses need to become more productive, creative and successful. It’s built at a team level by systematically setting aside time to listen, reflect and collectively respond to whatever is happening in the workplace (whether in person or remotely). As that happens, workplace culture gradually becomes more empathetic and thereby improves.
Invest in team meetings
One proven way of developing empathy is by having a team meeting at the start of the working week. In this meeting, teams can reflect together on the events of the previous week – what went well, and what didn’t – and not just detail upcoming assignments.
It’s crucial to acknowledge and appreciate people’s efforts and listen to their frustrations. In this way, team members and leaders get to know each other better and become more supportive. The meeting sets the tone for the week ahead, in the way people work individually and as a team.
So, how do you build empathy and improve your culture? Invest in this weekly check-in process. It’s great way to build team comradery, and the commitment is just half an hour a week. It’s a small investment for a more productive and happier week.
What is the ROI?
At Friday Pulse we collect weekly data on employee happiness using a 5 point scale. We know that a modest half-point on our scale leads to at least a 7.5% increase in productivity. Note productivity is hard to measure and the more jobs require flexibility and creativity then the higher the productivity gains are.
We also know that this rise in weekly happiness is very achievable. Many of our clients have achieved this at both at individual team level and across the whole organisation.
We can also make a simple return on investment calculation (in terms of time).
The investment in a weekly team meeting is 30 minutes, which is 1.25% of the time available in a typical working week. The benefit is 7.5% better use of everyone’s time.
ROI = (Benefits – investment) / (Investment)
ROI = (7.5 – 1.25) / 1.25 = 5x
So, a weekly team meeting has at least a 5x return on investment. How well are you investing your time?
CEO & Founder of Friday Pulse
Friday Pulse helps organizations and team leaders track weekly happiness, so that they can unlock the creativity and productivity of their teams.