Staff morale refers to the general outlook and experience employees have each day. When employees feel fulfilled in their workplace, and feel empowered to do their best work, employee morale will be high.
Workplace morale is not one thing, a group of factors influence morale within a team. Employee morale will not improve unless specific and systemic changes happen in the culture of a company.
Why is Staff Morale Important?
Staff morale is important because it’s linked to overall productivity and engagement at work. The higher your employee morale is, the better your company will perform.
When morale is not monitored, it can become poor. Some companies may not know how to fix low employee morale. However, its important organizational leaders educate themselves on how to boost employee morale.
An organization with low employee morale is vulnerable to its effects. Low morale can cause higher instances of:
- Employee burnout.
- Lack of motivation from employees.
- Lack of trust or respect for the organization.
- Higher stress levels.
- Poor employee health.
- And more!
Overall, when staff morale is low, all core business functions suffer.
Factors that Effect Staff Morale
Employee morale can be a hard issue to tackle because it’s not caused by one thing. Instead, employee morale is shaped by various key factors in the organization.
There are several factors to consider when looking at your overall employee morale. We will go over some of these key factors below!
Type of Work
The nature of the work an employee is asked to complete has a big effect on staff morale. If a staff member is made to feel their work is unimportant, or they are just a brick in the wall, it can negatively affect staff morale. Similarly, if an employee is unsure of their core job functions, and often must work in confusion, it can negatively impact morale.
Ideally, all employees will find some purpose in their work. Additionally, employees should be provided with clear expectations and goals. This will have a positive impact on morale.
Every employee is different. What may motivate one employee, may cause anxiety in the next. Demographic factors such as age, education, or years of experience, can affect an employee’s experience in their role.
Although staff morale is an organization-wide issue, it’s important to look at it on the individual level for each employee, too.
Proper Management and Feedback
The guidance an employee receives from their managers affects employee morale. An employee who feels they do not get clear expectations or guidance from their managers will have lower morale.
Staff members who can count on their managers to provide effective supervision and feedback will feel more empowered in their role. If an employee does not understand their expectations in their role, it’s the manager’s job to get the employees on the same page.
Work-life balance is crucial for a happy workforce. Employees who feel they have no personal time because of work commitments are much more likely to have low morale.
Even if an employee loves their organization, they can be quickly burnt out by feeling they must always be “on” and don’t get much time to themselves. Burnout can lead to high turnover if left unchecked.
It’s important for leaders to understand that employees will perform better when they’re provided time to truly unplug. As many employers switch to a remote workplace, it is even more important to encourage staff to draw a hard line between work life and personal life.
Perhaps the most intangible factor, the culture and preexisting values of an organization can affect morale. A company that has (and follows) guiding principles is more likely to engage employees.
Conversely, if a workplace has no guiding principles, it can negatively affect employee morale. Or if a company has principles, but does not apply them to their work, it can lower trust among employees.
Positive Contributing Factors to Staff Morale
When an employee trusts their organization’s vision for the future, morale will be higher. Good employee morale is about motivating employees to work toward unified goals.
It is important employees feel connected toward a larger, shared goal to boost employee morale. It’s crucial that employees understand their contribution to the company goes beyond their individual roles. Companies should stress that the staff has the power to positively affect the company mission at large.
Communication is an integral piece of good workplace morale. To best contribute to the company, employees need clear and transparent communication. Employees need consistent communication to stay on track with the goals of the company.
Communication also helps another key factor: interpersonal relationships. It’s important that employees feel connected and comfortable with their cohorts. This facilitates a better working environment, less confusion on projects, and an overall more cohesive team.
Meaningful relationships at work can motivate employees to engage with the workplace more. An employee who does not have any meaningful connections at their workplace may disengage and isolate themselves from the social aspect of the workplace. This causes negative effects on staff morale and productivity.
Actions to Improve Staff Morale
You may wonder what actionable steps you can take today, to ensure higher employee morale tomorrow.
Employee morale encompasses a lot of factors and should be viewed in a holistic sense. You can’t effectively implement strategies to improve employee morale in an organization that has underlying communication issues.
First, you must work on the core foundations of your organization that affect employee morale. This includes things like clear communication, fair expectation setting, and transparent company goals.
There are many steps an organization can implement to boost employee morale. We will walk through some of these below.
Provide Reasonable and Effective Management
Your managers are your first line of defense in managing employee morale. Good managers help employees feel more fulfilled, engaged, and supported in their roles. It’s important to take a hard look at your management team.
Some companies may conduct upward feedback surveys, where employees review their bosses anonymously. This provides leaders with insight into what’s working in their management teams, and what needs improvement.
It’s easy for organizations to forget managers aren’t perfect and need continual development just as much as junior employees do. If there is room to improve in your management team, set out to develop a continual training program.
Treat Employees with Value and Respect
No organization can survive without its employees. Yet often organizations can take the accomplishments their employees achieve every day for granted.
It’s important to communicate and remind employees that they are your most valuable asset. Even something as simple as a personalized thank you note makes a positive impact on employee morale.
Provide Stellar Benefits
Relating to the previous point, treat your employees like the valued people they are by offering great benefits. If your benefits or compensation package are lacking, it tells an employee you don’t value them as people.
Ideally, your organization should perform market research on what comparable companies offer their employees. Then, try to offer a slightly above-average benefits package based on that data. If other comparable companies are providing benefits like pet insurance or half-days on Fridays, you should consider doing the same (or better).
Offering stellar benefits is a way to show employees how valued they are. Also, it can deter employees from jumping ship. In today’s day and age, employees have many online resources to compare similar companies. If they find others are offering better benefits and perks, they may look elsewhere.
Prioritize Professional Development
A lack of opportunities for growth is commonly cited as a reason for leaving when employees resign from a company. When organizations get caught up in the day-to-day, it can be easy to forget that employees have underlying career aspirations that need nurturing.
Ideally, professional development begins the day a new employee starts. A company should offer a clear, comprehensive, and organized onboarding program.
As time goes on, employees should have access to resources to develop their skills. Performing check-ins with managers opens a space for employees to share their career goals.
Managers should facilitate conversations about career growth and offer advice. Employees can create a career map with their manager and set actionable goals. When employees feel they have something to work toward, it makes staying motivated in their current roles a lot easier.
Employee morale is the underlying factor in all interactions that happen in your company. Positive employee morale leads to better communication, happier employees, lower turnover, and improved productivity.
It’s incredibly important to ensure employees feel motivated and inspired by their organization. By prioritizing factors that contribute to better employee morale, an organization can build an environment where all employees feel empowered to come to work each day.