Upcoming ACOM Event Calendar

January 2010

Annual Conference
January 8-10
Dallas, Texas
Westin City Center

February 2010

February 18
Topic: The CMP designation…the whys and hows of this important industry designation

March 2010

Idea Network
March 18
CVB Track: Working w/ Interns & Volunteers
Hotel / Center Track: Risk Management and Liability Issues

April 2010

April 15
Topic: Planner Panel: What Planners need from their CSMs


10 Cheap Ways to Raise Morale

By Sam Glenn, 2009 ACOM Annual Conference Keynote Speaker

Morale doesn't have to stink just because the economy does.

It's a really good time for making excuses. Each week seems to bring new highs, but not the kind that make us happy. Instead, we hear about the high unemployment numbers, the high rate of foreclosures, and the high price of gas.

There are plenty of reasons to argue that it's not time to be ramping up incentive tactics, when we are really just paranoid about survival.

But I see it all differently. As someone who lost a successful company overnight in a fire, survived, and eventually thrived, I say that hard times are just the time to worry about motivating your employees. More than ever, you need their morale to keep your company afloat.

So here are some incentive tips that won't cost you much; in some cases, they might even save you a few dollars.

1. Run a weekly contest with a small prize. Find out who has the ugliest baby picture or the most out-of-character hobby. Make it interactive and fun and allow the staff to vote. Keep the prize small, but sweet—a free lunch, a $50 gift certificate, or 30 minutes of free time.

2. Allow your employees to work at home one or two days per week, if possible. Set up instant messaging so you can keep in touch online. Not only does this allow staff to work in their pajamas, but it also saves them money on gas.

3. Host a monthly potluck for employees to get to know one another and network. Have a theme to each event—such as Retro '70s—and encourage people to title their dishes to match, like Betty's Bell-bottom Beans.

4. Provide blank name labels, and allow everyone to make up their new "name of the day." Call each person by his or her chosen title, for just eight hours.

5. Ask each staff member to compliment another staff member of his or her choice, each day, in writing, for a month. No one may compliment the same person twice until having complimented everyone once. This gets everyone thinking positively about those around them.

6. Be open to input from everyone in the company. Too often, I see situations where an employee who is low on the totem pole has some of the most brilliant ideas, which never get heard. Also, when staff members feel like their input is valued, they are more apt to outperform expectations.

7. Be funny, even if you don't think you have it in you. Humor in the workplace is like spaghetti to a marathon runner. Add your own authentic flair and don't be afraid to be laughed "at," rather than just "with."

8. Bring in marshmallows and allow people to roast them over the stove at lunch.

9. Create a blog for your company and allow each person to provide one (monitored) entry per month (or week or quarter) on any subject.

10. Be available, and show empathy. If one of your staff has lost something due to the economy, listen and accommodate them whenever possible by providing flex time or creative solutions. Show you care, and your employees will too.

This article originally appeared in Successful Meetings in August 2009. Used with permission.

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