We all know how much stress, anxiety, and overall gloominess can impact our productivity at work. If the members of your team seem to have a constant case of the Mondays, it’s time to implement a few morale-boosting measures to promote happiness and positivity. Here’s everything you need to know about company morale and how to create a lively, fulfilling work environment.
What Is Company Morale & Why Is It So Important?
Employee morale is a reflection of how people feel working for your company. In other words, team morale is the perspective, attitude, confidence, contentment, and sense of achievement that your employees have at work.
There are clear advantages to maintaining high company morale. For starters, it encourages loyalty to the organization and its leadership, thus promoting willing cooperation toward your objectives.
Employees want to work for an organization that makes them feel valued and supported. No one wants to feel undervalued, ignored, and helpless: that’s a surefire way to create a high turnover. When employees feel appreciated and are given opportunities to make their voices heard in an environment where they can thrive, it motivates them to channel their talent toward accomplishing their work goals.
What Causes Low Employee Morale?
Several factors within the work environment itself can affect employee morale. Of course, not every aspect of an employee’s well-being is conditioned by what’s going on at the office. Personal circumstances have their role to play and shouldn’t be overlooked. But the consensus is that a dismal atmosphere at work can be the undoing of even the most optimistic of employees.
One of the main causes of low employee morale is a lack of communication and trust. If people feel like someone’s always looking over their shoulder or double-checking everything they do, it’s impossible to work serenely. Even your organizational design matters, vertical communication being generally associated with lower morale. Leadership and supervision should be there for support and guidance, not control and reprimand. Workers in unfavorable work environments are likely exposed to such coordination issues. Compatibility between fellow employees can also be at play.
The workload itself is often to blame as well. It can be tempting to think that a capable employee can always handle one more task, one additional responsibility. But the fact is that you don’t want to push your staff past their breaking point! If and when this happens, there should be no doubt as to the temporary nature of the situation.
More important still, acknowledgment and appreciation are crucial for maintaining team morale. Employees who feel their efforts are unrecognized will quickly lose heart in their work. A reward system, for example, can offer a great morale boost for your associates.
Job satisfaction derives from the ideal alignment between the objectives of the organization and the employee’s goals. A good way to cultivate this mutual benefit is by allowing your staff to share profit.
And at times, outside circumstances will put a damper on staff morale. How you handle the crisis will determine your team’s response. According to Lazim et al. (2020), uncertain times like pandemics create emotionally disturbing experiences. Any reduction in monetary compensation or workload increase – as many companies had to implement during the COVID-19 pandemic – tends to exacerbate the issue. In the case of the global pandemic, layoffs meant that the remaining employees had to deal with additional tasks and responsibilities in addition to the worries of job insecurity.
The same source explains that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, over 60 percent of U.S. employees worked from home. WFH policy became a matter of concern across most industries, creating morale-related issues. Prolonged working hours and feelings of isolation may hamper enthusiasm. Even firms with high staff morale can become less efficient as a result of social distancing because connection and comity are vital to their activities.
What Are the Effects of Low Company Morale?
Giese and Ruter (Citation1949) recommended that various objective measures used for gauging productivity should be utilized as determinants for employee morale in the workplace. These include:
• Production efficiency
• Error efficiency
• Labor turnover
This highlights the high cost of low morale within a company. The Gallup Organization estimates there are 22 million actively disengaged employees, costing the American economy as much as $350 billion per year in lost productivity. The main causes are reported to be absenteeism, illness, and other problems that result from employees being unhappy at work. This loss of income derives from reduced overall productivity: according to a study by the University of Warwick, happy employees are up to twelve percent more productive than their unhappy co-workers.
As for the issues of absenteeism, conflicts at work, high turnover rates, and poor talent retention, they directly correlate with workplace well-being. Such deep-rooted concerns may even have repercussions on your company in the form of poor brand image and, in turn, a decline in customer loyalty.
How to Boost Employee Morale
High team morale has a host of benefits, including:
• Willing employee cooperation toward the objectives of the organization.
• Loyalty to the organization and its leadership.
• High degree of employee interest in their job and organization.
• Decrease in absenteeism and labor turnover.
• Healthy company culture and a supportive environment, resulting in high staff engagement and a workplace conducive to motivation, productivity, and performance.
• Good team morale can counteract free-riding tendencies among team members.
As important as employee morale may be, it does take work. When it comes to boosting employee satisfaction and creating a workplace where people are happy to stay and put in their best efforts, there’s no quick fix. But it doesn’t mean team morale is something you just have or don’t have: it can be cultivated! Here are some tried and true ways to give your whole company a morale boost.
1. The Importance of Good Leadership
The role of a good leader in promoting employee morale can’t be understated. Leaders have a direct impact on morale and engagement. Their decisions and strategies condition how smoothly the entire chain of command behaves.
Dye and Garman (2006) provide a telling illustration of this notion: Energizing staff through servant leadership. Servant leaders can energize staff by setting a personal example of good work ethics and motivation. In addition, servant leaders speak and act enthusiastically and optimistically about the future. They help others recognize the importance of their work, are enjoyable to work for, and have a goal-oriented, ambitious, and determined working style.
2. Non-Monetary Rewards
We’re not here to suggest that people go to work only for the added perks and don’t care for or even need the income it brings them. However, we are firm believers that combining business with pleasure makes for a much happier, more positive work environment.
That’s where team events (group lunch/dinner, company sports, celebrations, etc.), company retreats (which deserve their own section, keep reading to find out more about the benefits of a retreat for employee morale), and employee recognition programs come into play.
3. Authentic Appreciation
Nothing ruins team morale like the feeling of being taken for granted or unappreciated. Yet, showing acknowledgment can be a double-edged sword as employees tend to view employee recognition programs cynically. The main reason is that they often get the sense that the gestures extended to them are not genuine, that these token actions are there only to keep up appearances.
How can you prove to your associates that their efforts are being recognized and appreciated? By making your response less generic and more individualized and by communicating authentically. From a practical standpoint, this implies that traditional approaches to employee recognition (awards and rewards) need to be re-evaluated. Continuing these activities may actually increase the negativity within a work environment.
4. Request Employee Feedback (and Taking It Into Account)
Encouraging open and honest employee feedback is an important facet of communication within an organization. According to Hammerback et al. (Citation 2015), “Employees should be encouraged to give their input at the end of the day on what they saw and what they think could be improved.”
This could take the form of surveys, one-on-one company-wide employee meetings, or even an informal exchange at the end of each work day or week. The goal is to create an open line of communication where members of your team know they can ask questions and speak up on ideas.
5. Align Employees With Company Values
Employee morale is also based on a sense of belonging. When employees understand and care about your organization’s direction, they are more likely to be invested in its success.
That’s why making sure your employees are in tune with your core values is essential. Be clear on your company’s vision, mission, goals, and values. Act with transparency and trust to foster togetherness.
6. Encourage Employee Development
Just because you promote team spirit and want everyone to know they’re together on the same adventure doesn’t mean you should negate the individual.
Employee satisfaction tends to drop when your staff doesn’t see opportunities for professional development.
Encouraging your employees to take on new responsibilities and giving them time to work on passion projects or development courses (to build upon their skills or acquire new knowledge) can do a lot for your company’s morale.
Show employees a clear path for advancing within the organization. You could provide performance-based incentives by allowing employees to move between teams based on their interests, skill sets, or new avenues they wish to explore. The idea is to show they never have to “feel stuck” working for your company. When your employees know they can grow professionally within the company, they’re more likely to stay there long-term.
7. Team-Building Activities – Consider a Company Retreat
At TeamOut, we believe in the power of successful retreats to improve employee morale. The goal of this event is to provide the ideal settings for team members to participate in activities that promote relaxation, engagement, collaboration, and creative problem-solving. You can also use this time to (re)affirm your company philosophy.
Here’s how it works when you book a team retreat with TeamOut:
1. One-on-one chat with our trip designers to assess your needs and tell you everything you need to know about how to plan a corporate retreat your team will love;
2. Venue selection from our catalog of curated properties;
3. Agreement – your trip designer will walk you through all the details of your retreat;
4. Itinerary building by selecting your team-building activities from thousands of possibilities;
5. Bookings and transportation, coordinated by your trip designer;
6. It’s finally time! Here are a few tips for a successful retreat.
8. Don’t Forget About Your Remote Team Members
As we pointed out, remote working conditions can take their toll on employee morale. Without the feeling of support and synchronicity that people get from working within the same physical space, it’s easy to allow the situation to drag you down.
Virtual team-building activities are there to cultivate this closeness even from behind computer screens, bringing more meaningfulness to workers who can otherwise feel disconnected.
From simple icebreakers to solving a murder mystery as part of your teamwork practice, the options are endless.
9. Emphasize Mental Health at Work
Whether your team works on-site or remotely, work-life balance can be difficult to achieve in such a demanding environment. Being proactive and setting boundaries to prevent burnout contributes to maintaining team morale.
A study found that companies that implemented flexible work plans reported an 89 percent retention increase from HR. One of the most impactful things you can do as a team leader is to create mindful work schedules and honor time off.
10. Encourage Employee-Led Initiatives
Employee-led initiatives allow your team to have a direct and personal impact on the organization. Trusting your associates to explore innovative avenues nurtures a sense of purpose and a higher level of engagement since they are directly implicated in the projects they undertake. It’s the ideal combination to boost company morale!
Your team’s morale partly depends on external factors. But it also largely rests on the measures your company implements to make sure it is a matter of priority. With the right tools at your disposal, you can create a workplace where everyone thrives. And the entire company will benefit from it.