Five Ways We Build Employee Morale at JDM

I recently participated in a conference where one of the sessions focused on eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score). This particular session was extremely informative and prompted me to think about our strategies at JDM for enhancing and sustaining employee morale.

This is particularly top of mind as we approach Q4, which is a stressful time of year for just about every business – including an agency focused on helping its clients hit yearly goals. 

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In this post, I'd like to share five initiatives that help us cultivate and uphold high employee morale:

 

1. 1:1s (One-on-Ones)

As a remote company, maintaining a consistent schedule of one-on-one meetings is key for fostering our employees' growth and sense of inclusion. These individual sessions serve as a valuable platform for employees to inquire about various matters, delve into their aspirations, and gain insights through constructive feedback from their supervisors. 

Employees also use 1:1s to connect with their peers. We've recently introduced an innovative platform that enables employees to engage in virtual games during their one-on-one meetings, and we’re planning our first live hosted game show through the platform!

 

2. Quarterly Goal-setting 

Goal-setting is one of the best ways to build and sustain morale. At JDM, each team member collaborates with their manager to establish quarterly objectives. This fuels motivation by fostering a culture of achievement and facilitating regular opportunities for employees to experience victories throughout the year. Unlike annual goals, which can sometimes appear daunting or fade from memory, our commitment to quarterly goals at JDM enables employees to break down aspirations into manageable steps and keep them at the forefront of their minds.

 

3. “State of the Company” address

We’ve recently implemented a “State of the Company” address that our CEO gives during All Hands. In this address, he discusses where the company has been, what we are currently doing, and where the company is headed. It has been beneficial for employee morale because not everyone is always privy to the conversations that are happening within the company’s leadership team. Given that one of our core values is transparency, implementing a State of the Company was the perfect addition to morale-boosting strategies. 

 

4. Team-building Activities

Being a fully remote agency means it’s critical to be intentional in our approach to team-building activities. For instance, we are conscious of not overloading our employees with Zoom happy hours (which could trigger memories of the Covid era). Some of the strategies that have proven successful include weekly all-hands questions, where employees share their answers and offer a glimpse into their lives. We also organize virtual coffee sessions, where groups chat and connect. Our personal favorite is in-person meetings, which we can help facilitate for groups clustered in certain geos.

We arrange in-person gatherings semi-regularly. We’ve created a Slack channel that we use for announcements, reminders, and—my personal favorite—notifications from employees that they are going out to lunch/dinner/a fun activity with invitations extended to the rest of the group. The option to connect for IRL meetings (which JDMers seem to absolutely love) within a flexible remote environment is a great combination for our team.

4 JDM team members smiling.A group photo of the JDM Team in San Diego.

A candid photo of the JDM team and friends in Denver.

 

5. Peer Recognition

Who doesn’t appreciate the occasional recognition? Within our Slack workspace, we've set up a special channel solely for acknowledging our colleagues. We actively encourage everyone to utilize this channel to express their appreciation, linking their shoutouts to JDM's core values and applauding their team members for outstanding contributions. As an extra incentive during the summer months, we've introduced the JDM Values Stars program, where our CEO acknowledges employees who embody our company's core values and rewards them with gift cards as a gesture of gratitude.

 


 

Building morale is much more than a checkbox; it’s a series of initiatives that evolve over time with employee feedback and input. The keys to upholding morale: check in often to spot trends before they get out of hand; solicit and act on employee feedback; and over-communicate on issues that could create anxiety in a vacuum. By the time Q4 2024 rolls around, we’ll probably have a few more initiatives to add to this list.

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