Employee morale influences their perception and attitude towards their job, work environment, team members, management and the company. It affect levels of productivity, collaboration, retention rates and customer service. Addressing low employee morale, like most issues, begins with understanding the cause and identifying the problem. To start, here are six common causes of low employees morale and tips.
Poor and infrequent communication.
The lack of open and honest communication with management can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration when employees feel that their voices and opinions are being ignored. Not only do employers miss out on invaluable ideas, they show a lack of interest and concern about the issues that employees may be dealing with. Essentially, managers are allowing the problems to worsen. Infrequent communication can also cause misunderstandings when team members are left in the dark about updates and changes.
Tip: Demonstrate an openness to questions, feedback and discussions without repercussions. Encourage employees to voice concerns and ideas by giving them options to go about privately discussing issues. In addition, seek opinions and ideas regularly instead of making it an annual occurrence.
Confusion over expectations.
Confusion over what is expected can affect employee performance, output and perception of their value. When guidelines are not made clear, employees may head in a different direction than is intended and it will ultimately lead to a waste of theirs and the company's work time, energy and labor. Additionally, employees may feel uncertain about their responsibilities, team goals and the contributions of their role and efforts. Frustration and insecurity can also arise when they do not know with what criteria they are being evaluated.
Tip: Make job expectations clear early on and for every project. Take time to give proper explanation and training on correct procedures, deadlines and objectives. Also, consistently give feedback.
Lack of respect and recognition.
Poor communication and feedback can make employees feel that they are not respected as an individual and team member or that they are not recognized for their efforts. Although not all employees respond to the same type of recognition, a majority do want some form of acknowledgement in one way or another every once so often - whether that is through a public announcement or a simple word of gratitude. Giving recognition can help employees gain a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. In contrast, the opposite can lead to a lack of trust and increase uncertainty as employees question their value and work.
Tip: Build a culture of trust and interest of workers by noticing milestones. Celebrate birthdays, weddings and baby showers. Make concern for employees genuine with random acts of kindness through meaningful gestures and consideration for personal upsets with respect to privacy. Additionally, give employees the option to nominate and vote for company activities and rewards.
Although workloads will fluctuate and team members may be understanding and even willing to shoulder a bit of the stress, prolonged unreasonable workload will cause burnout and frustration - made worse if recognition is scarce. Along with low employee morale and motivation, the pressure will affect employee performance, productivity and interests with their work.
Tip: Allow employees the option of saying no even if it will only allocate the burden to someone else or the manager. Emphasize the importance of time management and encourage members to take lunch breaks to relax and re-boost. Making it possible for employees to achieve work-life balance can only be beneficial to the team in the long run.
Little room for growth and advancement.
Employees may feel boxed in when they feel overqualified for their position or their potential is not fully utilized. An unclear plan for development, limited opportunities for growth or little to no advancement prospects decrease interest, job satisfaction and engagement. Similar to the measure of business and success, employees will like to see their progress or the plans for it. The lack thereof will lead to members seeking new job opportunities outside the company.
Tip: Invest in employees and take an interest in their professional development with tuition reimbursement, allocating appropriate responsibilities and offering projects that will allow employees to utilize and broaden their capacity. Additionally, promote internally and make promotional track records clear.
Replacing and altering goals.
Although delays and upsets are inevitable and understandable, frequently discarding and altering goals can lead to discouragement. Employees will feel a lack of accomplishment when their efforts continuously bear no fruit, especially if they put in a lot of energy and time towards that goal. Discouragement also increases if their previous labor become redundant when new objectives contradict old ones or a goal was close to completion before being overhauled and scrapped.
Tip: Divide long-term goals into benchmarks to show the path and points of completion. Setting short term goals can also help build excitement. Give assignments that can be completed with clear guidelines and a clear indicator of when the task is completed. Assign value and purpose to each project with evident reasons why it support or determine decisions in the goal reaching process.
Other causes for low employee morale include a lack of confidence in job security, uncertain business conditions, the perceived lack of fair compensation and more. Addressing employee morale takes time, genuine concern and effort. Make it a goal to really understand each employee and members of the team in order to effectively boost morale.