Employee morale is a crucial concept to consider when hoping to optimize a team's abilities and performance. Happy employees are generally more productive, engaged, and motivated in their roles and thus make more positive contributions to an organization. When morale is lacking, various other critical business aspects may suffer too. As leaders, the objective is to guide both team and company to success; therefore, it is essential to prioritize the well-being and morale of employees.
What is employee morale? Our definition
What is morale? Only one of the most significant factors which contributes to the success of an organization. Our employee morale definition is the collective attitude, overall outlook, and satisfaction of employees within an organization. This also includes employees' feelings of well-being associated with the work environment and their given role. Simply put, the higher the morale, the happier the employees.
Why is building team morale important?
Building team morale is important because it is directly linked to productivity-- employees with high morale are proven to be more productive in their roles than those with low morale. Boosting employee morale can be beneficial to an organization's success, growth, and company culture. With improved morale comes an improved work environment, job satisfaction, employee engagement, retention, and more. Many factors combine to impact morale, and there are various ways to boost morale for team members.
5 reasons for low staff morale
Low employee morale can be caused by numerous variables combined to create the perfect storm. Because the morale of team members is so crucial for an organization's success, leaders must prioritize ways to boost employee morale and well-being. Here are some of the most common reasons for low staff morale:
Limited growth opportunities
When employees do not have a projected path for growth within an organization, they may lack ambition and the ability to visualize their future with the company. If employees can grow and develop with an organization, they are far more likely to be motivated and higher performing in their current roles.
Employee morale is often improved (or damaged) from the top-down rather than from the bottom up. In other words, having strong leadership that embodies a company's values and dutifully implements positive practices within the workplace is a sure way to boost employee morale. If leadership is lacking in these areas, then the entire team suffers. It is a leaders' duty to guide their team to success and prioritize their well-being and job satisfaction.
If employees perceive a lack of fair compensation, they will probably feel unvalued and unimportant. They may also harbor negative feelings for the company as a result, which may be reflected in their quality of work. When compensated fairly or presented with opportunities such as bonuses or raises, employees will be far more motivated in their roles and more excited to come into work.
Toxic company culture
Toxic work culture has a direct effect on employee morale. If employees are exposed to a hostile environment when they come into work, they understandably won't want to. Dealing with conflict, poor attitudes, and other harmful behaviors from their co-workers can be draining and frustrating. Organizations must practice being aware of toxic behaviors, acknowledging them, and defining what is appropriate v.s. what is unacceptable within a team. Otherwise, they risk an increase in unhappy employees, absenteeism, burnout, and more. Understandably, it is critical to identify and remedy any toxicity within a team.
If an organization is struggling in these areas, there is a greater risk that employees will feel unvalued. When employees feel unvalued, they are likely also to feel as if they do not play a significant role in an organization's success. They may feel that their contributions are unacknowledged or unimportant and therefore may not perform to their full potential. Organizations should prioritize their employees' well-being and take steps to show employees that their hard work is recognized and appreciated.
Here’s how to boost morale at work
To build team morale, organizations must first identify the root cause of any deficits and determine the best steps to help employees. What works for one team, may not work for the next as each is unique and has its own needs and struggles. While there are various ways to improve employee morale, here are some of the most reliable:
- Educate employees on their working styles
- Welcome two-way feedback
- Offer training and development opportunities
- Prioritize employee recognition
- Properly train management
- Prioritize health and wellness
- Offer incentives
- Encourage work/life balance
- Plan team-building activities
- Build trust
1. Educate employees on their working styles
Improving employee morale can be as simple as educating everyone on their personalities, preferences, and working and communication styles. Doing so can increase their self-awareness and help them better understand their co-workers and collaborate best with them. Utilizing tools like personality assessments can provide valuable and actionable insights to communicate more effectively, resolve conflict more efficiently, and more. These insights can also be useful in understanding what types of tasks may energize or drain employees-- which can be especially helpful in avoiding burnout and low morale.
2. Welcome two-way feedback
Two-way feedback can be one of the best morale boosters for employees, as it provides a direct understanding of how an employee is feeling. When leaders encourage two-way feedback, they let employees know that their opinions and feelings are valued and heard. As employers receive employee input, they can better make the necessary changes and improvements to ensure high employee morale. Whether through one-on-ones or anonymous suggestion boxes, two-way feedback can significantly impact how employers manage their teams.
3. Offer training and development opportunities
While there are many ways to boost employee morale, offering growth opportunities is perhaps most beneficial to both employer and employee. Providing employees opportunities to develop their skills and abilities helps them grow their professional careers while also promoting growth within the company. A study by Gallup found that organizations that have made a strategic investment in employee development report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain employees than their peers. When employees can grow with an organization, they're more likely to stay loyal to a company and satisfied within their roles.
4. Prioritize employee recognition
Recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work is a simple, effective, and tangible way of showing employees that they are valued team members and serve as an excellent morale booster. Doing so also encourages them to keep up the good work and motivates them towards higher performance. Acknowledging when employees are doing well, whether through verbal recognition or actual awards and perks, can increase employee satisfaction, engagement, and overall wellbeing. When management fails to recognize employees, they risk low morale and a higher employee turnover rate as employees are less likely to be engaged and happy in their roles.
5. Properly train management
In many cases, if employers are wondering how to increase employee morale, they should first examine how they are being led. When management is well-trained and can promote positive practices within the workplace, a team will function better and be more empowered to succeed. One way to foster strength within leadership teams is to make them aware of their employees and best support and challenge them in their roles. To do so, management can utilize personality frameworks, such as DISC, to better understand their team's working and communication styles. These can be invaluable tools to not only understand others but also understand one’s self within the workplace.
6. Make health and wellness a priority
When a company prioritizes the health and wellness of its employees, it is showing them that they are valued and cared for. This can directly contribute to employee morale, as health and wellness opportunities are driving factors in mental health and overall happiness. Providing employees with the tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle is an investment in their future and well-being. Offering perks, such as paid time off, good health insurance with low co-pays or deductibles, pre-paid or discounted gym memberships, and flexible schedules are a great way to do so. Simpler incentives, like prizes, are also effective and may add some fun to the workplace. Offer employees prizes or gift certificates for accomplishing health-related goals, such as taking a health assessment or using their gym membership for certain days consecutively.
7. Offer incentives
Offering your employees incentives is a great way to ensure higher morale, as having them will motivate employees to strive for excellence while feeling valued as part of the team. In addition to team morale, a company rich with unique or exciting opportunities and perks can also positively impact recruitment and retention. A study done by SHRM found that 94% of companies offer short-term incentives, while 53% offer long-term incentives beyond regular pay. Smaller incentives, like free lunch or coffee, free snacks in the break room, and allowing pets in the office one day a week, will help create a happier work environment with smaller costs to the company. However, more costly incentives, such as tuition reimbursement, laundry service, and monthly massages, should also be considered to improve morale.
8. Encourage work/life balance
Having a good work/life balance is essential in the happiness and mental health of employees. Consider adjusting the current scheduling practices to offer more flexibility for your team. Giving employees the option to work remotely or having flexible work time allows room for a better work-life balance. Flex hours may mean coming in at 10 AM and staying until 6 PM or working four 10-hour shifts rather than five 8-hour ones. If you can do so, flexibility with schedules and location is a great way to get candidates in the door and increase retention and productivity.
9. Plan team-building activities
Team-building activities are a fantastic way to build team spirit while improving overall engagement. Participating in culture-building allows team members to get to know each other, communicate better, trust each other, and feel happier in the workplace. Such activities can be as simple as a catered team lunch or more extravagant-- like a weekend retreat or social event. Team-building activities can also serve as a needed break from the workday, helping to prevent burnout and promote positive interactions with other co-workers.
10. Build trust
Trust is a valuable and earned aspect of the company culture and is essential in fostering high employee morale. Building trust can be accomplished through practicing transparency with employees, maintaining strong communication practices, and treating everyone fairly in the workplace. When employees trust their leaders and their co-workers, teamwork improves, morale increases, and the quality of work is higher. If trust is lacking, employees may have ill feelings towards management, negatively impacting their performance, attendance, and morale. Cultivating trust within a team doesn't happen overnight and must be prioritized consistently to encourage a happy, productive, and collaborative environment.
Impacts of improving team morale
Boosting employee morale goes beyond just benefiting a business. Happy employees tend to perform better and be more productive in their roles. Here are other impacts of positive employee morale:
More effective teamwork
With an overall increase in wellbeing, teammates are more likely to collaborate efficiently. Typically, high morale indicates a more positive outlook and more willingness to connect and cooperate with their team. Conversely, teamwork can boost morale; when employees build positive working relationships with their co-workers, they're more inclined to feel engaged and happier.
When improving employee morale, organizations can expect to subsequently improve productivity and performance. When employees are happier, they usually perform better. This theory has been proven numerous times, with one study reporting that productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with engaged and connected employees. Notably, team morale heavily influences employee engagement-- which also plays a large part in productivity- if a business is struggling with maintaining high levels of productivity and performance, they should first examine their team's morale and prioritize its improvement.
When employees stay with an organization, they can build connections and stronger working relationships with their colleagues. Employees need to form bonds with and understand how to communicate with other team members to collaborate effectively and feel comfortable in the workplace. If team members are constantly coming and going, it can be challenging to create those working relationships. Additionally, the remaining employees may end up with added responsibilities and obligations, leading to burnout or dissatisfaction. With high employee morale, people are more likely to enjoy their roles and remain loyal to the company.
It should come as no surprise that happier employees are more inclined to show up for work. When organizations prioritize team morale, they create a positive and empowering environment that employees feel motivated and excited to be a part of. Low morale can be the reason for an individual's absenteeism; conversely, their absenteeism can negatively impact the morale of their team as they are left to pick up the slack.
Overall increase in profitability
Team morale truly impacts most areas of a business, including its finances. Companies with low team morale likely also struggle with high turnover- employees frequently leaving due to dissatisfaction in their roles. Constantly funding recruiting and hiring practices can be detrimental to an organization's finances. Additionally, because morale is so closely tied to productivity, with higher morale comes more excellent performance and productivity--which can yield profitable results for a business. Ensuring productivity to reach company profit goals can be streamlined by prioritizing employee morale and being mindful of how to best support employees.
Our key takeaways on company morale
Because of its impact on both culture and the overall success of a business, organizations must prioritize improving morale in the workplace. These practices can make all the difference, especially for remote teams or organizations using a hybrid model, where employees are more susceptible to feeling insignificant or disconnected. Employers have powerful contributions to make to ensure high employee morale, as it is usually up to leaders to promote positivity and solid practices in the workplace.
Higher morale can be achieved when leaders take the initiative to implement practices such as employee recognition, fair compensation and benefits, growth opportunities, and other methods of building trust and ensuring a healthy company culture. While there are many ideas to improve employee morale, it is up to each organization to determine which will best suit the needs of its' people.
You can get started today understanding better what may energize or drain your employees by having them take a free personality test.