Have you noticed a decrease in your team’s energy and excitement? Has your team’s lunch break stretched into a never-ending afternoon siesta? As a team leader, low team morale is one of the toughest issues to address in the workplace. While some factors – like a salary freeze or round of layoffs ¬– may be outside your immediate control, there’s still a lot that you can do to foster a productive team environment.

Addressing low team morale is essential for not only improving performance, but also for preventing your best team members from being recruited by other companies. As a Senior Partner focused on executive recruitment, I see every day the role that low team morale plays in an individual’s decision to leave their current job – sometimes even settling for lower pay – in order to escape a “toxic” work environment. Don’t let this happen to your team! Follow these three tips to boost morale and build a stronger team:

Lead by example. If morale is low, start by evaluating the example that you are currently setting. Are you constantly complaining about deadlines or a difficult manager? Sure, no one is going to be “Suzy Sunshine” all the time, but negativity is infectious. Check yourself before you complain about a coworker or criticize a project assignment.

Offer verbal praise. Are you noticing sloppy errors on basic projects? Rather than focusing on what your team is doing wrong, applaud them for their achievements. A simple “good job” goes a long way – especially when you highlight a team member’s contributions in front of senior staff.

Respect work/life balance. Morale suffers when team members feel like they’re being asked to go above and beyond every day for work, but never get anything back in return. If you are not pushing hard on a big deadline, try to be flexible with your team members’ weekly schedule commitments. Sure, you can’t please everyone all the time, but understanding that Liz likes to attend an evening yoga class on Tuesday nights or that Chris needs to take the kids to soccer practice on Thursday evenings can help boost morale. A happy life outside work translates to a positive attitude inside the office.

When it comes to boosting morale, the occasional team happy hour or office pizza party won’t do the trick – real improvement starts by fostering a positive workplace culture. Tell us, how do you keep team morale strong in your workplace?