Low staff morale. Tips to greater productivity.

Sensible business owners will agree that employee morale is tied to the company’s success. Satisfied employees show an interest in the company’s progress, co-operate better with co-workers, make fewer errors and are more productive. On the other hand, low staff morale has a habit of spreading negativity throughout the organisation with the effects hurting its bottom-line.
The problem with low staff morale is that in the workplace it can be intangible and very hard to identify.
This article focuses on ways to spot low staff morale and how to improve work relationships.

How to Tell When Employee Morale is Low

Getting the best out of the workforce isn’t just about setting tasks and expecting them to be executed.
It’s about looking at the way they communicate with their peers, how they approach tasks and listening to any grievances or suggestions they may offer.
An empowered employee is one of the best assets an organisation can have and while some may actively tell you when something is wrong the vast majority will keep issues to themselves, sometimes until it is too late to resolve.
A good manager knows when to listen, how to respectfully interact with others and can identify possible problem areas before they escalate.
Indicators can include;

  • Changes in Employee Attitude: Changes in employee attitude can be subtle. These may include increased absences, an unwillingness to cooperate or commit, or a rise in general negativity.Managers shouldn’t automatically assume the worst when a staff member phones in sick but if there are patterns to any absence it can be a clear sign that an employee is unhappy about something that has to be addressed immediately.
  • Poor Individual or Department Performance:  An increase in errors, a significant increase in missed deadlines, or worse a rise in customer complaints are all signs of low staff morale
    As a team a department may be under pressure due to workload or individually an employee may be experiencing personal problems.
  • Lack of Initiative: Employees who lack motivation will find little reason to be proactive, show leadership skills, or finding ways to solve problems. Be aware of staff members who are just doing the bare minimum in their role.
  • Lack of Direction: Ensure all staff understand their roles and what is expected of them.  Employees who are confused about the tasks they have been assigned can become disengaged from the workforce.  Make sure it isn’t due to a failing on your part in miscommunicating the role.
  • Office Gossip: Be mindful of office gossip. Employees will always talk about their daily routines but be wary when aspects relate to areas of conflict or inaccurate assumptions.Gossip typically starts when there is a lack of reliable communication from management and is used as a way to fill in any gaps.  Incorrect information being spread can quickly affect workforce morale.
  • Resignations: Employees will move on from time to time. However, it is important to understand the motivators behind someone leaving a job.Employees that feel badly treated, or undervalued are more likely to leave and find employment elsewhere.
    An increase in requests beyond the norm is something that should be investigated.

Ways to Raise Low Staff Morale in the Workplace

Employee morale can lead to poor cooperation, high staff turnover and low productivity.  All things that stop a business from reaching its goals.
The general esteem levels of the workforce can quickly become a problem if left unchecked. Effective leaders monitor it closely and enlist simple creative steps to strengthen it.  Here are a few ways you can adapt your business to help improve low staff morale.

1. Promote from within – combating low staff morale.

Knowing that promotion is a possibility is a strong motivator for most employees. Find out more about your employees’ job aspirations and invest in training programs for them. You can also give team members the opportunity to excel simply by placing them in positions that better match their skill sets.

2. Use the open-door approach with employees.

If you don’t know what’s causing low morale among your staff, ask them. Schedule one-on-one meetings, arrange staff appraisals or have group discussions to identify underlying problems in the workplace.
You could even conduct quarterly employee reviews that allow employees to air out their grievances anonymously.
More importantly use the open-door approach so that employees can talk to you whenever they feel the need to do so. They will feel that you are listening and care about their welfare if they are able to air any grievances at short notice.

3. Invest in your staff through training.

Train employees to help develop their skill set and instil positive attitudes.  Staff will feel valued if they are given relevant training that will then help their long term career aspiration. Use a mixture of on-site training alongside specialist e-learning.
Trained employees are more likely to stay with a company because they can see benefits beyond the day to day work. It is far cheaper to train existing staff than replace them. Training promotes unity, job satisfaction and can lead to a much happier, efficient workforce.

4. Share the organisations’ vision, aims and objectives.

Empower your employees by giving them a purpose or a goal they can work towards. Make your workers feel like they’re an integral part of something greater by sharing the vision for the company.
Knowing that they are part of something and vital to its progress can inspire and motivate your team. Always re-enforce the “Team” ethos.

5. Don’t underestimate the little things.

A good salary goes so far, but it’s the little added benefits that can help boost staff morale.
Acknowledging successes and events such as birthdays, weddings and births with a gift make employees feel valued. Free tea/coffee, buffets during meetings and dedicated away days can all help. Some organisations find flexible hours hugely beneficial by allowing staff to work around core hours in a way that works for them.
Further reading:
Personal Development Training
Staff Appraisal Training
Mentoring Training
Stress Awareness