What is morale in the workplace?
Employee morale describes how your staff feels about work, including how satisfied they are, their attitude about work and their outlook. If your staff isn’t feeling very positive about that work, that represents low morale by definition. In a low-morale workplace, employees tend to be disengaged from their work and dissatisfied with their level of responsibility. Morale fluctuates and is influenced by several factors.
What are the signs of low morale in the workplace?
If you’re not sure what the morale is like among your employees, take a look around the office and check for the following clues.
If you suspect low morale in your workplace, monitor your environment for supporting evidence. When you observe your employees, take note of how they work and communicate with their colleagues. If they seem bored, it’s a strong sign of low morale in the workplace. Other signs may include resistance to new company policies or failure to complete tasks by the requested deadline.
When employees feel like they don’t have the information they need to do their jobs well, they often speculate about the unknown, which leads to gossip. If you’ve noticed an influx of misinformation at your company, it may be the result of poor communication from management. Fostering honest conversations built upon trust can alleviate any issues regarding negative information.
Low motivation is another key sign of low morale in the workplace that you may notice as you observe your environment. Unmotivated employees tend to do the minimum amount of work required instead of learning new duties or accepting additional tasks. They decline leadership opportunities and new initiatives that require additional effort. When leaders take steps to motivate their team, they may notice an immediate change in the group’s efforts.
When there is no acknowledgment for exceptional performance in the workplace, employees may feel unappreciated. Managers who implement incentives and rewards for a job well done may experience higher levels of satisfaction and performance. Companies that praise their employees consistently provide the emotional support needed to keep employees happy and productive.
Low morale typically leads to low performance levels. When your team members start to make mistakes more frequently and lose interest in providing exceptional customer service, they are likely experiencing negativity in the workplace. When these signs become obvious, step in and provide the support needed for a positive experience. Showing that you care about the well-being of your employees helps them want to work more efficiently in return.
When morale is low, workplace productivity tends to drop. The lack of motivation and overall negative environment can cause people to put less work into their job duties. When morale gets extremely low, employees might not even care if the work gets done or not. Decreased productivity slows down your work processes and can hurt your business.
Loss of interest
People tasked with repetitive work often lose interest in their duties. That’s why it’s important to introduce new concepts and projects regularly. Challenging work helps employees grow their skills and helps them feel accomplished. If you notice your employees are disengaged in their daily tasks, consider adding a few projects that provide opportunities for learning and creativity.
High absences and turnover
When employees don’t enjoy their work environment, they tend to take time off more frequently or regularly show up late to work. They may even leave a job soon after being hired. If your company has a high absenteeism rate, it might reflect low morale. Help keep your employees motivated by acknowledging their efforts when they arrive on time and ready to work.
Related: How to Reduce Employee Turnover
How to improve morale in the workplace
Even if your workplace morale is currently low, you can correct it with consistent effort. Follow these steps to improve morale in the workplace:
1. Build trust
Improve morale in the workplace by building trust and promoting honesty. Let your team know about important details regarding projects and company decisions when appropriate. Take time to listen to their concerns and voice your appreciation for their hard work. Another way to build trust is to set a good example. Demonstrate the positive characteristics you wish to see in your employees and it will be easier for them to do the same.
2. Show respect
Treating your employees with respect helps them feel valued. Pay attention to your body language when you’re around your team members to ensure you send a positive message. Ensure that you treat everyone with the same level of respect. When you speak with your team, maintain eye contact and give them a chance to contribute to the discussion. Regularly praise your employees when they accomplish a goal or complete a milestone. Implement their suggestions to show you listen to their ideas.
3. Promote creativity
When employees have more opportunities to create, they experience a sense of empowerment. Think of ways to incorporate fun rituals into your weekly work schedule so employees feel more relaxed. When you promote periods of relaxation, you create space for your employees to brainstorm together to find new, innovative ways to work.
For example, you might set schedule an hour on Wednesday afternoons for your team to play board games, or allow an extra hour of lunchtime every Friday. By giving them something to look forward to, you’re creating a more relaxed environment that fosters enjoyment and creativity.
4. Start team building
Great leaders set a positive tone for the workplace. As you model positive leadership skills, look for ways to bring your team together through clear communication and accountability. Once your employees know what to expect, they’ll feel more receptive to team-building activities and games that strengthen professional relationships. Schedule regular team-building sessions to help employees learn more about each other and trust each other more.
5. Get feedback
Talking to your employees can help you pinpoint the morale issues. Listen for things that bother them and suggestions for improvement. Meet with employees regularly to show them that you value their opinion.
6. Do exit interviews
High turnover can be an issue with low morale. Before those employees leave, hold an exit interview to find out what went wrong. Ask what caused the employee to leave and what you could have done better. Ask if there would have been anything you could have done to keep them. Use this information as a guide to make changes before more employees leave.
7. Provide growth opportunities
When the workplace becomes stagnant, employee morale can decrease. Provide your employees with professional development opportunities, such as classes, conferences and on-the-job learning. Offer them additional duties or new projects that align with their interests. Hiring from within can also improve morale. Employees know that they have an opportunity to advance, which can be motivating.
8. Emphasize health and well-being
Employees who skip breaks, work long hours and skip meals are headed toward burnout. Encourage a healthy work-life balance in which your employees feel comfortable leaving work on time and using their vacation time. If you have employees who always stay late, limit how late they can work to encourage them to go home at a reasonable hour. Adding a wellness program to your offerings can encourage people to make healthier choices. Consider adding healthy snacks to the breakroom and taking group walks on lunch breaks to build healthier habits.
9. Offer more perks
Providing extra incentives and perks can improve the overall satisfaction of your employees. Review your current perks and benefits to see where you’re lacking. Offer additional perks that improve work-life balance or make employees happier. One example is offering flexible schedules or letting employees work from home at least a few days per week. Many perks don’t cost you much, but they can improve how your employees feel about work.
10. Address negative employees
Sometimes one or two employees can bring down the morale for everyone. Bullying behaviors shouldn’t be tolerated. Address those behaviors immediately and consider terminating employees who continue to be bullies. Constantly bickering with other employees, gossiping, making fun of people or generally being negative can also affect the morale. Work with those employees directly to improve behaviors. Make your expectations for interacting with colleagues clear to all employees.
11. Get to know employees
Learning more about your employees beyond their duties at work can help with morale. Employees want to know they’re more than just a number. They understand their role is to make the company money, but they also want to know that you care about them. Make intentional connections with employees to learn about their lives outside of work. Show concern when they deal with a death in the family or other difficult situations.
12. Provide necessary support
Employee morale is often better when the company provides the tools, equipment and support to do the job well. It can be frustrating to have inefficient tools to do the job. Check with employees to see if new software, equipment or other resources could help them do their jobs more efficiently. Ensure they have managerial support when needed for difficult tasks or when they’re dealing with a difficult work situation. Make sure your employees know they can come to you when they need additional support.
13. Give employees autonomy
Micromanaging your staff is a quick way to hurt morale. It tells your employees that you don’t trust them and don’t think they have the knowledge or skills to do the job themselves. Trust your employees to make decisions and handle tasks on their own. Listen when they share ideas or suggest different ways to do things at work. This empowers your employees and boosts their attitude about work.
14. Make work fun
Loosen up a little around the office to create a more laid-back and enjoyable environment. Add play into the routine with a karaoke machine in the breakroom or a friendly game of charades after a dry organizational meeting. These little activities help with team bonding, lighten the mood, encourage fun and give your employees a mental break.
Monitor employee morale
Keeping an eye on how employee morale improves helps you determine if your efforts are working. One-on-one meetings with your employees can also help you gauge morale. Schedule regular meetings with individual employees to check in with them. You can cover a variety of topics in addition to morale, such as employee performance, career paths and goal setting.
FAQs about employee morale
What are the benefits of having high morale?
High morale in the workplace encourages employees to work more productively and helps them feel invested in their roles. This results in high-quality work and increased creativity as people work together to accomplish team goals.
Who is responsible for positive morale in the workplace?
Employers have the responsibility of fostering positive morale in the workplace. When their employees feel valued and respected in the workplace, they achieve success more frequently. Managers often have the most influence on morale, since they enforce policies and work directly with employees. Train your managers to focus on morale. Employees themselves can also improve each other’s morale, creating a virtuous circle. Being positive and improving interactions with coworkers can help.
How can you measure morale?
One of the best ways to measure morale is by conducting anonymous employee surveys. They provide insight into your team’s perspective regarding certain issues. You may decide to ask specific questions or allow them to respond to open-ended questions. Consider setting up an online survey.