The holidays have passed and everyone is returning to his or her regular routines.  As a result, employee morale may dip drastically from the highs of the holidays.  So how do you keep the good feelings going for your employees?  To help counter the winter blues, we have compiled tips from the experts and suggestions from Ask Inc. users to help keep spirits buoyant.

1. Recognize special events in the lives of your employees.

Birthdays, weddings, births, the accomplishments of employee children—if you have a reason to celebrate, do it!  Whether it is buying a round of coffee for the morning shift, or finding a nice greeting card for everyone to sign, celebrate the little things in your workplace. Have a monthly birthday party complete with cake. Gather all employees and have all the birthday people from the current month stand up, and the rest of the office sing to them. It's corny, and maybe a little embarrassing, but it helps put smiles on faces and cake in tummies. And really, who doesn't want cake? Read more.

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2. Keep the conversation going.

Encourage idea sharing, and make that sharing road a two-way street. Listening to the ideas of your employees is great, but it can only go so far if the employee doesn't know enough about business operations to present a viable idea. Try open-book management strategies. Supply employees with critical information and financial data and teach them what that information means so the can influence the company's collective success. Keep your employees informed and ensure they understand you are willing to listen to their input and continue that discussion. Read more.

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3. Recognize and reward your employees for doing good work.

"People want to feel valued," Paul Spiegelman, founder and CEO of Beryl, a call-center company based in Texas, explained. Tell your employees they are doing a good job verbally, or write a little note. Have pizza parties for meeting your monthly goals as a company. Do what you think is appropriate for your business environment, but be sure your employees understand that you value you their work, and they are fabulous people.

There is one caveat.  Singling people out for good behavior can sometimes work as a disincentive on a larger scale. Instead of giving all your praise to the superstars, try rewarding everyone for the achievements of the few and reinforce teamwork.  Read more.

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4. Make the workplace comfortable.

"Designing a comfortable environment is about more than aesthetics; careful attention to design can give a boost to employee happiness," says Lois Goodell, principal and the director of interior design at CBT Architects. You'll need more than just cushy chairs and ergonomic desks, for this (though those would be great, too. Comfy chairs soothe the soul.) Make small adjustments to your lighting scheme and bring in fun desk lamps if you can't banish the overhead fluorescent glare, or open curtains to allow for natural light if you have windows. Keep the office temperature at a comfortable level, and make sure all the technology needed to do the job is available. Read more.

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5. Smile more.

The social environment at work is a big contributor to burnout, says Elizabeth Scott, a wellness coach at The CEO's demeanor can directly affect the staff, as workers read the mood of the boss for clues about performance and job security. So, smile more often, talk about fun things like hobbies with employees, or crack a joke—just make sure it's done in good taste. These steps will help to boost morale, encourage team building and even stave off job burnout. Read more.

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6. Build a culture of trust.

Trust is everything in a relationship, be it romantic, friendly, or business-oriented. It is essential to build and cultivate trusting business relationships for success and survival.  Try this three-tiered approach to building trust with your employees:

  • Capability trust: allow people to make decisions, involve them in discussions, and trust in their opinions and input.
  • Contractual trust: keep agreements and manage employee expectations.
  • Communication trust: share information, provide constructive feedback and speak with good purpose about others.

Read more.

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7. Encourage work breaks.

Smokers seem to get the better end of this stick, ducking out for a quick cigarette every couple of hours—which they are completely entitled to have. Remind your non-smoking personnel, and everyone else, to take breaks. Walk around the block. Go for some coffee. Work goes much faster when you are refreshed and ready to take on the assignment after a break, and it keeps employees from getting stir crazy.

Have stubborn workaholics in your office? Make your breaks "mandatory." Put out some treats in the office kitchen and call everyone over for a snack. It'll get people interacting with their coworkers, and give everyone a much-deserved break. Read more.

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8. Employee people "engines."

Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour, suggests strategically placing innately passionate and inspired individuals around your organization to help keep other employees focused, motivated, and happy. "When you find people with these characteristics, use them wisely. They'll certainly make your job easier, especially when it comes to keeping the rest of the team motivated," he says. Read more.

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9. Build a culture of employee appreciation.

Cash incentives and public recognition, while nice, don't always make your employees feel totally appreciated. Take some of your short-term morale boosters, like recognizing good work with handshake and a smile, or idea sharing, and turn it into a business lifestyle. Thanking employees face-to-face on a regular basis may also help improve their ability to accept constructive criticism, says Rick Maurer, a consultant based in Arlington, Va. "If you make it clear that you are trying to make employees better at what they do, positive and negative feedback become a regular part of the conversation," he says.  Read more.

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10. Have fun.

Spiegelman also encourages wacky team building exercises, which could range from weeks-long murder mysteries to an all day off-site activity, like laser tag. Pick a Friday and make your "place of duty" be a laser tag venue.  Have different games and mix the teams for every game so everyone has a chance to bond with everyone else.  Nothing builds morale faster than shooting opposing teams with little lasers in a rousing game of capture the flag. Read more.

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