How to Use Data to Improve Employee Morale and Recognition

Engagement & Motivation
May 22, 2024

There was a time when checking in with your workforce was simpler. You could monitor employee morale by scanning the office during your morning stroll to the lunchroom for that second cup of java. 

However, the workplace has evolved dramatically.

With the rise of remote work, flexible hours, and diverse global teams, the old "reading the room" method doesn’t cut it anymore. Add on a frontline workforce and a business leader’s job is even more challenging. 

As the dynamics of our work environments have shifted, so too have the needs and expectations of employees. Today, staying connected with how employees feel is essential for business success. 

Here’s how data can be used to create a more supportive and engaging workplace. 

Why Boost Morale and Recognition? 

The overall sentiments within a workforce can influence the success or failure of your organization.

Dissatisfied employees have led to the downfall of many companies—just look at Circuit City. Haven’t heard of them? That’s because a disgruntled workforce contributed to their 2007 bankruptcy.

Elevated employee morale is closely linked to employee engagement. And engaged employees are generally more motivated and committed to doing a good job. They work more productively because they enjoy their roles and are likely to speak positively about your organization, which can help attract new talent. 

The impact of happy employees extends beyond internal operations. Your employees are the face of your company. When content and motivated, they deliver better customer service, directly influencing customer satisfaction, loyalty, and profit.

High morale is also an excellent buffer should your organization experience a big change. Recognized and valued employees are more likely to trust their leaders and stay committed during a rough patch. 

Boosting morale and recognition helps build a stronger, more cohesive team and fosters an environment where employees thrive, innovate, and drive sustained growth. Conversely, low morale can lead to higher absenteeism, decreased productivity, and, ultimately, a negative impact on your bottom line.

6 Tips to Use Data to Improve Morale and Recognition

Data isn't just a tool for measuring sales or tracking logistics anymore—it's also helpful in understanding and improving employee morale.

Your organization can create a more engaged and satisfied workforce with thoughtful data analysis and strategic implementation. 

Here’s how you can use employee data to help boost morale and recognition.

1. Conduct Regular Employee Surveys

The best way to learn how your employees feel is, well, to ask them! 

But depending on the size of your workforce, it could take an entire year to ask each one individually. And then collating that data would be a spreadsheet nightmare. 

However, thanks to digital platforms like SurveyMonkey and UKG, sending anonymous employee surveys is now easier than ever. These apps, and others like them, analyze the results with statistical tools that reveal patterns and pinpoint areas where employees feel overlooked or under-appreciated. 

Transparency in sharing these findings and action plans to address them helps boost trust and morale by showing that feedback leads to real change.

2. Create Unbiased Employee Reviews

An unfair work environment can lower morale faster than a four-year-old can drop an ice cream cone. 

Whether intentional or subconscious, workplace biases can lead to a sense of injustice, undermine the credibility of performance evaluations, and significantly impact career progression and satisfaction.

No one wants to see Carl get the promotion that Jane so clearly deserves. 

Once again, it’s data to the rescue. Advanced data analytics tools can examine employee review scores across demographics and departments. This can help identify any disparities or trends that might suggest bias. For instance, if a particular group consistently receives lower performance ratings despite similar output and engagement levels, this could indicate a systemic issue that needs addressing.

Creating a standardized scoring system is another effective way to ensure fairness in employee evaluations. A system that uses specific, measurable benchmarks for job performance rather than subjective feedback can provide an objective assessment.

3. Monitor Workload and Overtime

It’s easy to lean on your employees to pick up the slack in a worker shortage, or unwittingly pile on the work without realizing the impact on your employees.  However, overwork can lead to a burned-out and despondent team. 

The good news is that tools like Toggl or Asana have time trackers that can illuminate how employees spend their time, and highlight where they are bogged down. Evenly distributing the workload based on this data can help prevent burnout and communicate to employees that you care about their well-being. 

Plus, regular workload reviews encourage open discussions between employees and management, cultivating a commitment to maintaining a healthy and balanced work environment.

4. Implement a Peer Recognition Program

There’s nothing quite like peer recognition to put a little pep in your step. Your colleagues know what goes into doing your job well, so recognition from them carries a lot of weight. 

Peer recognition programs can improve morale by fostering an environment of appreciation across all levels of your organization. In fact, studies show that 37% of employees want to be recognized at work. And when recognized, the effort meter can rise by 69%. Not bad for a simple “thanks for doing a great job.”

Make recognition part of your company culture and set up a system that allows employees to award each other points or badges for daily wins and helpful behaviors. A little positive reinforcement in the workplace can go a long way in helping your employees feel good about their jobs and your organization. 

5. Communicate Employee Growth Plans

Data can help develop and communicate employee growth plans. Analyzing performance metrics, training completions, and career progression paths can help build individualized development programs that align with company goals and personal aspirations. 

This approach ensures employees see a clear trajectory for advancement and understand the milestones they need to hit. Regularly updating employees on their growth plan progress via digital dashboards or one-on-one meetings keeps them engaged and aware of their professional development, enhancing their motivation and job satisfaction.

6. Measure Morale KPIs

Setting clear key performance indicators (KPIs) for employee morale is critical. To know where you’re going, you need to understand where you started, and how you’re measuring success.

These KPIs could include metrics like employee net promoter scores (NPS), turnover rates, frequency of peer-to-peer recognition, and results from regular engagement surveys. 

No matter what KPIs you choose, what’s important is that you create a quantifiable morale benchmark and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of new initiatives. 

Build a Thriving Workplace Culture

Using the insights provided by data, you can help your team stay ahead of the curve and feel genuinely appreciated and valued.

And although data is integral to boosting employee morale and recognition, don’t forget human connection is still central to building a thriving workplace culture. After all, behind every data point is a person who contributes to the success of your organization.

The Team at Qarrot