The Cost of Low Morale in the Workplace
17 July 2016
Morale is a state of mind which involves feelings and emotions. Created within each employee, it is often considered a cryptic quality. It encompasses the attitudes and perceptions towards the job, workplace, team(s), managers and the organisation. Positive employee morale is usually exhibited by confidence, discipline and willingness to perform. Single factors do not explain high or low morale, but rather a combination of factors.
Low employee morale can include a number of factors such as:
- Job security issues - This is one of the main causes of low morale. Uncertainty of the future, changes within the organisation, or a struggling business can easily lead to a deterioration in motivation for employee's morale. When a member of staff leaves or is made redundant, this makes employees nervous. Company management need to communicate to employees to easy uncertainty within the workplace.
- The organisation's values, mission, and goals - For staff to believe in their role and perform to their best, employees need to know the values, mission and goals set by the organisation. These should be reasonable, sustainable and ethical. From a business point of view, it is vital to induct and train staff to the same vision, mission and goals of the organisation.
- Clear structure and job descriptions - You want clear direction, so do your staff. This will allow them to perform with confidence the role that you have chosen them for. Clearly defined structure and expectations are a must.
- Poor pay - This is a common root cause of low employee morale. Employees are often given much more responsibility than they or their role are supposed to hold. That's a big mistake! If the employee is to hold more responsibility, then they should be offered a raise or promotion to meet the increased role.
- Negative co-workers - It can be quite unpleasant, frustrating and annoying for other workers if one of their co-workers speaks negatively about the organisation. Negative workers need to be stopped or contained as quickly as possible and negatively within the workplace can rapidly spread.
- Work environment - We would all like to work in a business environment that provides us the best office and tools for the job. But in reality, there are financial restrictions that a business must deal with and prioritise.
Some managers see low morale as intangible. Its importance and impact on profits, productivity and financial outputs are measurable and will affect the organisational objectives.
High morale in the workplace is key to success. High morale is typically influenced from the top down. However, when managers restrict open dialogue on workplace issues, they are denied the first-hand view of problem, resulting in gaps when addressing the real problem and can further exacerbate them.
When a workplace can create positive morale, it pays back and is accomplished through varied approaches such as relationship building, recognition and return. Management that implements the innovations and ideas of employees reinforces their sense of value. Regular tool box meetings can highlight the tasks to be accomplished while recognising previous successes. This can also be accomplished by increasing the frequency of communication among team members, providing opportunities to discuss goals, and by developing a healthy sense of competition against other teams.
In any organisation, people are the most important resource. They are the engine that drives productivity and results, and so their level of morale and motivation impacts the organisations success. To ensure commitment and increased morale in financial uncertainty, managers need to invigorate their employees by acting enthusiastically and optimistically about the future. This heightens levels of motivation and helps employees identify the importance of their work while encouraging a goal oriented, ambitious, and determined working style.