Does your team — that was once super-productive, dynamic, creative and full of energy— suddenly appear completely drained out? Do the team members look like zombies with absolutely no energy levels? Are they missing deadlines, making mistakes that they otherwise would never make, and trying hard to push through the day? If all of this seems familiar to you, then it is probably because your employees’ morale (aka mood in the workplace) is running low.
Employee morale is nothing but a complex mix of perceptions, emotions and attitudes that employees hold towards their work and their workplace. Employee morale, be it positive or negative, can have a direct impact on several factors, such as job satisfaction, productivity, day-to-day decision making, workplace relationships, employee attendance and punctuality, performance, and so on.
What causes low employee morale?
Employee morale, unquestionably, is one of the most vital yet most difficult things to manage in a company. Therefore, understanding what factors are possibly causing low employee morale can help to fight the challenge head-on.
Here are some of the most common causes of low employee morale:
- Lack of professional/personal development
- Lack of clarity on what is expected out of them or what the organisational objectives are
- Change in work dynamics, such as change in leadership, work environment, team structure, and so on.
- Feeling invisible in the workplace due to lack of recognition
- Lack of trust and micromanagement by managers
- Whether you are a manager leading a small team or the leader of a large organisation, the one thing common is — the more you connect with employees, the more strategically you can help build their morale and guide them towards success.
Strategies to improve morale at the workplace
–Sometimes, the simples and plainest of things are what matter the most and require the maximum attention. This applies to workplace strategies as well. It is often some of the simplest, yet well thought-over plans that help build strong employee morale.
Here are some of the strategies that organisations can adopt to foster stronger morale:
Build trust with strong communication
“If communication is not your top priority, all of your other priorities are at risk.”
– Bob Aronson
Communication plays a substantial role in creating and maintaining a positive work environment, while boosting employee morale. Establishing a robust communication framework where employees are provided ample opportunities to express their concerns and feelings and also given inputs on professional and personal development, helps to create a workforce that boasts of high morale and high level of engagement.
Recognise good work and reward efforts
“There’s nothing worse than feeling unseen and unheard in the workplace.”
– Annie McKee, in her book How to Be Happy at Work.
Whenever someone in your team is doing great work, do not hesitate to appreciate them. Even a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way in influencing employee behaviour. Devising a strong employee rewards and recognition programme can help you to directly link recognition to a certain desired behaviour or task, thus aligning employees to organisational goals. Not just that, it helps reinforce the focus on day-to-day activities and motivates them to keep performing better. Be assured that nothing boosts self-esteem and productivity like timely appreciation.
Emphasise employee wellness and health
“Good health is good business” – Paul Dreschler
Employee health and wellness — be it physical, emotional, or financial — have a great impact on employee behaviour. Happy and healthy employees tend to exhibit higher productivity and engagement. That is why, most successful organisations these days emphasise on investing in a comprehensive and holistic employee-wellness programme that can bring in a host of benefits, such as improved job satisfaction, productivity, engagement, increased morale, reduced healthcare cost and absenteeism, and so on.
Value employee feedback
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates
Employees feel empowered when they are encouraged to share their honest views about the organisational policies, leadership, management styles, or anything related to the business. They are likely to be happier and more engaged when they believe that their views are genuinely being heard and valued.
Nurture workplace relationships
“In union, there is strength” – Aesop
Human beings, by nature, are social and thrive on positive interactions and meaningful relationships. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that employees who feel connected and supported by their peers, managers and subordinates are the ones who are generally happier, more productive and engaged to the organisation.
Bring on the fun
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – Proverb
Stringent work cultures that focus only on working hard without any fun or play not only affect the morale of the organisation, but are also detrimental to employee productivity. It is essential to create opportunities from time to time, where employees can let their hair down, relax and have fun at work. Be it Pizza Fridays or week-long office vacations, family days or team outings, fun activities at work have a profound impact on improving employee morale.