As a boss, you can’t always control when an employee will leave. If they get an amazing job offer from another company, you might just have to wish them good luck and see them on their way. Many employees quit for other, less pleasant reasons and you do have some control over those factors. A survey of more than 25,000 employees found that “lack of employee recognition” is the second-biggest reason why people leave their jobs (“poor management performance” is number one).

There are a lot of reasons why employees can feel underappreciated, but the good news is that there are a lot of ways bosses can fix that:


Provide Fun Team-Building Activities

You can foster connections between your employees (and yourself) without resorting to those weird trust-fall exercises you had to do at summer camp. Team-building should make people feel comfortable and relaxed. Ordering someone to fall on command is not an ideal route to either of those feelings.

You also shouldn’t force people to participate in these activities. Someone might have a migraine. They might have just gotten bad news about a family member’s health. They might also be in the middle of a really stressful deadline. If you have to harass people into participating in “team-building” activities you may not build anything but resentment.

Some of the best team-building activities are the ones that happen off-site and get people out of their office mentality. Take advantage of the natural beauty around your office. For instance, if you’re in Florida, you should consider a sunset cruise in West Palm Beach. Let your employees eat some delicious food and maybe have a drink. You can talk about work a little but, as a boss, your main focus should be building connections with employees.


Give Them Enough Office Supplies

Big gestures are great, but you also can’t ignore the small stuff. All the dinner cruises or picnics in the world won’t make a difference if your employees don’t have the basics necessary to perform their jobs. At the top of that list, is office supplies.

Employees shouldn’t have to beg or scrounge for pens, pencils, sticky notes, and anything else they need to get their job done. If someone asks for business folders for client presentations, then don’t grill them like they just asked for a new yacht. Little touches like business folders help your company look professional and put-together.

Denying people essential supplies can also have a large negative effect on office morale. Sure, if one employee is hoarding all the ballpoint pens, that’s a problem. You should talk to that employee about it, though. Don’t announce a blanket ban on ordering pens for the office.


Talk to Them (and Listen)

If bad office morale takes hold, you’ve got to act fast. At that point, people are probably already sending out resumes. One of the biggest things you can do to turn around poor office morale is to talk with your employees. Set a one-on-one meeting with each of your employees and make sure you’re listening when they raise concerns.

A lot of workplaces have suggestion boxes. But just reading suggestions once a month and then throwing them away isn’t nearly enough. Try to have regular town hall-style meetings where employees can feel free to raise their concerns. If people don’t want to speak up in front of others, encourage them to come to your office.

To make this work, you have to let your employees know that they won’t be punished for giving honest feedback. Don’t be surprised if they still hesitate, but if you keep your door open. You should find that more and more employees walk through it, and start providing valuable feedback.