“The beatings will continue until morale improves.” I’m sure you’ve seen this sign in many workplaces – maybe even your own! Employee morale is one of those topics that most HR practitioners recognized as important but there’s not a lot of guidance on how to improve it.
Here at Insightlink, we know it’s a problem from our annual employee benchmark study of U.S. employees. Our 2014 results show that:
Just one-half of all employees agree that their own level of morale is excellent or very good, and
Only four in ten feel the same about the level of morale in their organization as a whole.
These findings are important because low levels of morale affect organizations in many different ways, including negatively impacting product and service quality, recruitment success, employee retention and customer relations.
If your organization is suffering from low morale, what kinds of steps can you take?
Tips for Boosting Employee Morale
Keep the lines of communication open – in our experience, disgruntled employees are not hesitant about sharing the problems they see and this can drive down the morale of those around them. Keep an ear out for these problems and seek ways of fixing the ones that can be fixed.
Encourage those in management and leadership positions to demonstrate the right example of behavior. This includes how employees are expected to talk about the organization, as well as how they act on the job.
Support new ideas and be willing to encourage new ways of doing things, even if you’re not so sure about them yourself. This will encourage creativity and problem-solving, as well as boosting your chances of retaining staff members with potential for advancement.
Be careful that unnecessary rules and regulations aren’t getting in the way of progress. As you likely know, attempts to micromanage behavior, even if “this is the way we’ve always done things,” often produce an opposite and negative effect.
Look to recruit and promote staff members who are just as good at developing people as they are at managing projects.
Regularly acknowledge both individual and team accomplishments and implement public recognition as an ongoing part of your culture. Some organizations begin and end their recognition program with their “employee of the month” award and assume they've done enough. If employee recognition is a scarce commodity in your organization, employees will compete against one another and that competition won’t do anything for overall morale.
Offer employees numerous opportunities to learn and to develop new skills. Encouraging these types of opportunities helps prevent burnout and can keep your employees engaged and committed to their work. Training can also demonstrate to your employees that you are serious about their success as well.
Make sure your organization operates with integrity and take action to address accusations of favoritism or unfair practices. If your employees think they look good by association, they will feel better about their jobs.
Finally, if poor morale appears to be a stubborn problem, consider getting some outside help. Sometimes management can be contributing to the problem, maybe without even knowing it. As a start, Insightlink’s 4Cs survey includes questions designed specifically to assess the level of morale. Knowing where you stand now from an unbiased source like our employee survey can be a critical first step to taking meaningful action.
Insightlink Communications are experts in employee survey design, data collection and analysis. Since 2001 we've helped companies of all sizes measure and improve their employee satisfaction and engagement.