Why Your Employee Morale May Be Low & What to Do About It

Great employee morale is the number one contributing factor to higher engagement, productivity, and retention levels in the workplace. 

Business morale can be affected by many factors, including something as simple as bad digital communication systems, which 89% of employees recognize as a significant morale and profitability issue. But the good news is that most of the factors that influence high employee morale are within your control.

Here’s everything you need to know about making your workforce the best it possibly can be. 

Most frequently asked organizational morale questions

1. What are managers actually responsible for in the workplace? 

As a manager, you have a lot on your plate. You’re on the ground, making sure that all aspects of the business are running smoothly, and your most essential roles include

  • Overseeing projects and day-to-day tasks. Keeping an eagle eye on regular operations and one-offs is enough to keep any regular 9 to 5er busy all week. 
  • Setting big-picture goals. You’re also responsible for helping develop and executing that company vision. Then you have to communicate that to employees in a way they can digest and understand it. 
  • Improving employee morale. And finally, all of this work would be nothing without the support of your staff, whose happiness and engagement make up the backbone of the entire organization. 

Yes, you have a lot on your plate. But if you’d like to really stand out for your managerial prowess, it’s time to dig a little deeper into the idea of employee morale. 

2. What is work morale? 

Work morale is a human resources term used to describe how your team feels about their job and the workplace in general. Are they excited to come to work? Do they see their work as an important part of the big picture? Have they been given all the tools they need to succeed? All of these factors contribute to employee morale. 

In this video, employee morale expert and Founder of Aperio Consulting Group, Kerry Goyette, helps define what is — and isn’t — employee motivation as well as what managers can do to help unleash the joy their workforce already has inside of them. 

3. How do you know if staff morale is low? 

Your workforce might already be experiencing low staff morale. If you’ve noticed two or more of the following signs, you should consider implementing an employee morale strategy sooner than later: 

  • An increased percentage of absences and lateness. Unhappy employees don’t like going to work, and, when they do, they certainly don’t like arriving on time, even if they’re being paid by the hour. 
  • Deadlines are consistently missed by the majority of your team. This could be due to unrealistic timelines or expectations, which lead to overloaded, burnt-out employees. But if employees are given adequate circumstances to complete their assignments and things still aren’t getting done, that’s a sign low employee morale is weighing down productivity. Either way, this is a big red flag.
  • People are focused solely on raises and promotions. Money talks, but our recent workplace happiness survey shows that almost 60% of people have taken a pay cut to accept a job that made them happier. A widespread obsession with titles and dollars likely means your team is feeling stagnant in their roles.
  • Employees feel like their job is meaningless. Entry-level positions often require administrative or repetitive tasks that don’t always clearly fit into the big picture. But even higher-ups can feel listless about their existence in a role with tasks that don’t clearly support larger organizational goals. 
  • People seem unsure of themselves and their success. Some employees need more reassurance than others. But a team full of perpetual worriers indicates your team is feeling unsure and needs more feedback.

On the bright side, no matter how bad it is right now, there are always ways to improve employee morale. And here are some you can use today! 

10 effective ways to boost employee morale 

Workplace morale is complicated, but improving it doesn't have to be. A great managerial strategy for solving the employee morale question is based on a foundation of creativity, willingness to implement new tools as needed, and an understanding that trial and error will play a huge role in this process. 

Now, without further ado, here are some employee morale ideas to get you started: 

  1. Host an active team-building event or play different team-building games at the beginning or end of usual team gatherings. Check out this Ultimate Team Building Games Guide for ideas!
  2. Use OKRs to show your team how their work fits into the bigger picture. OKRs nest department, team, and individual goals under larger corporate goals and are famous for boosting employees’ sense of purpose and value.
  3. Don’t skimp on 1:1s. Schedule regular sessions with each team member and use this time to discuss their personal career goals and paths, provide positive and constructive feedback, and ask for feedback in return!
  4. Don’t underestimate the power of public recognition and positive reinforcement. At Wrike, we use Bonusly to praise colleagues who knock projects out of the park, help teach us something new, or even just share their lunch!
  5. Invest in a work management tool that helps you better manage and allocate resources across your team. For example, Wrike Resource helps managers accurately prioritize projects, gain visibility into team workload, and effectively distribute tasks to avoid burnout.
  6. Celebrate holidays, special occasions, and anything your employees get excited about — think NFL games, the latest film release, and birthdays. Not only does this encourage employees to be present, but it also drives workplace bonding.
  7. Have open office hours dedicated to career coaching and employee growth. Focus on helping employees develop and improve valuable skills like communication and leadership.
  8. Choose a collaboration solution that fuels quick, actionable feedback. This limits ambiguity around performance, minimizes time spent waiting for next steps, and enables employees to address issues and improve execution more quickly.
  9. Run spiffs to encourage healthy competition and publicly reward employees for achieving key goals. Spiff prizes can range from company swag to vacations to cold hard cash.
  10. There’s no doubt our surroundings shape the way we think, feel, and work. Put some TLC into your team’s workspace, encourage employees to decorate their desks, and choose digital tools they can personalize and make their own.
  11. As you can see, a great manager just has to be thoughtful, considerate, and willing to loosen up a little in order to help their employees do the same. These and other small changes can have a big impact on your workplace. Try a handful of the ideas above or come up with your own and you’ll see more smiling faces in no time. 

Main takeaways: Employee morale activities

Business morale is about more than just corny games and motivational posters. If you’d like to make a tangible and positive impact on your employees, consider the following key ideas you learned above: 

  • Improving employee morale is one of your most important duties. It affects everything from revenue to employee turnover, and, despite how it may feel at times, you have complete control over establishing a strong sense of employee morale in your office.  
  • Bad employee morale is actually preventable if you know the signs. Poor performance, attitudes, and attendance create the perfect low morale trifecta. Prevent them from happening or, at the very least, notice them when they do. 
  • Small changes can have a big impact. Making work more fun, providing positive experiences, and being more thoughtful about the day-to-day experiences your staff has all go a long way. 

At the end of the day, it’s all about helping people live happier and healthier lives. Keep this in mind and you’ll always be known as the leader who can make any company a great place to work. 

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