High staff morale can seem like an elusive thing to many businesses, with each employee seeing the company in a different way, which can lead to varying opinions and feelings. While it may be hard to pinpoint the exact levels of morale in your company, having an idea of where it stands both as a whole and in terms of each individual can help you to address the issue.
Low staff morale can be a result of a number of issues, each of which can affect how happy employees are in their role. Not being able to progress, poor company practices, perceived job insecurity, and seemingly unfair levels of pay can all impact morale.
Those with low morale are less likely to perform at their peak or put extra effort into their job, which can be detrimental to the company. In fact, the Gallup Organization estimates that employees with low morale cost the economy around $350 billion a year due to low performance.
This suggests that it is in a SMEs' best interest to ensure staff morale is as high as possible. While there are a number of different ways to do this depending on the issues being experienced, there are methods to deal with the common causes of low employee morale.
How to improve employee morale
1. Find out why staff morale is low
Talking to employees regularly can help you understand what issues are affecting morale, giving you a better idea of what you need to address and how you can improve it. American Express suggests discussing issues with groups or individuals so as to understand the challenges being faced by employees.
Getting feedback on what could be improved is the first step to improving morale and ensures that you aren't wasting time and money on things that aren't real issues.
2. Show staff recognition
A common factor that can affect employee morale is the feeling that good work isn't recognized. If employees are working hard and going above and beyond but are not being thanked or praised for doing so, it can soon mean that their productivity levels and efforts decline.
Forbes highlights the importance of letting employees know when their efforts are appreciated. This recognition ensures that employees are more likely to work hard and do more than their usual role requires because they know it is being noticed. Even something small like an announcement to the company about good work, a weekly roundup or additional bonuses and perks are great options.
3. Encourage a good work/life balance
Working hard is all well and good, but it can also lead to employees putting too many hours in and letting their home life suffer as a result. This can mean staff end up exhausted and unable to fulfill their role to the best of their ability. Even worse, they can start to feel like all the extra work is expected of them and not doing it can make them question their job stability.
Encouraging a slightly more relaxed culture in which employees don't feel like they need to stay late every night or refrain from discussing their personal lives in the office is a good way to improve their work/life balance. As My Startup CEO points out, it is vital that this starts with managers to show team members that this is acceptable.
On top of this, you should ensure that people don't feel pressured to stay at their desk, with workplace lunches, games, coffee facilities etc. all being great ways to encourage balance.
4. Employees are motivated by progression
The feeling that you're stuck in one place can really have an impact on morale. It is not enough for an employee to like the company they work for if it doesn't offer them opportunities to progress, train and change their job role. Not only can low morale caused by this issue reduce productivity, it also means there is a greater chance that you'll lose talent as staff search for roles elsewhere.
Communicate progression opportunities to employees, create a training program and have regular assessments to see whether someone deserves a promotion or may wish to move into another area of the business to gain new skills. While offering more money may not always be possible, other types of progression can be just as valuable and effective when it comes to improving morale.