Employee morale is a fundamental aspect of a company's environment. Your employees' positive attitude and mental health are major factors that influence day-to-day operations and productivity levels at the office. By understanding the attitudes and sentiments of diverse groups working together, you can build off their strengths to achieve better results.
Considering that employees spend the best part of their day at work, it’s vital to facilitate employee experiences that show that you care about your people's welfare.
Morale is the value and satisfaction a person gets from their job, peers, boss, and organization. That’s why HR leaders build policies and activities to boost employee morale and ensure that the company is poised to meet the demands of a diverse workforce.
Low morale leads to poor engagement, low productivity, and increased employee turnover, leading to poor company culture. A University of Oxford study has shown that employees in an organization with a positive work culture are 13 percent more productive.
One sure-fire way to ensure positive employee morale is through building a company culture that rewards and recognizes a positive attitude. The fact is, if your employees are kept happy, they tend to do a better job.
What is employee morale?
Employee morale defines the way employees feel about coming to work. It is also their approach to their work and their view on the direction in which the company is headed.
Put simply; morale is the outlook, emotion, and attitude that employees have in the workplace environment. Employee morale is a good barometer of the health of the company’s culture and indicates the employees' level of engagement.
The impact of positive employee morale?
Employee morale has an outsized effect on workplace performance. When the morale is high, employees are motivated to deliver superior work. High employee morale results in several positive implications for organizations that include:
- Reduced employee turnover. High employee morale leads to employees feeling empowered, motivated, and valued. This increases engagement, and employees feel encouraged to stay with the organization. This reduces turnover and brings about savings in new employee hiring and onboarding costs.
- Enhanced performance at work. As might be expected, employees feel inspired and motivated to perform at their best when morale is high. This increases productivity, helping the organization deliver superior business results.
- Lowered absenteeism. Absenteeism can prove to be costly. Low employee morale increases absenteeism. High morale motivates employees to turn up at work and do their best. Employees with low morale, expectedly, tend to shirk work.
- Improved customer service. High employee morale leads to satisfied and happy employees. This is reflected in the organization’s quality of customer service and its approach and willingness to solve customers’ problems. On the other hand, low morale leaves employees uninterested in doing their best for the company and its customers.
- Higher creativity and innovation. When employee morale is high, employees are satisfied and feel motivated to exert themselves for the firm's success. According to a Gallup report, 59 percent of employees said that feeling engaged at work helps them be more creative. Higher creativity leads to greater innovation giving the company a decisive edge over the competition.
- Improved collaboration. When morale is high, employees feel supported and motivated to work collaboratively with their colleagues to achieve organizational goals.
Why is employee morale so important?
Factors like company culture, working conditions, pay, peers, and promotions affect employee morale. Morale can be attributed to an individual or a group. In fact, the morale of one person can affect others in a group. When people influence each other in a group, a new perspective is born.
Knowing how your teams feel is the first step to inspiring them. Team morale is based on mutual understanding and respect for one another. If positive attitudes outweigh the negative attitudes among a group, morale is high. Contrarily, morale is usually low when negative attitudes subdue the positive experiences. As a business leader, you want to ensure that team members encourage each other to perform better via constructive exchanges.
An engaged employee is usually more devoted to your business goals and happy with their function within your organization. They tend to perform better to achieve more for themselves and their team. On the other hand, a disconnect between teammates could lead to a lack of productivity and mismanagement of resources. Therefore, creating an atmosphere of high morale is a business necessity.
Your employees are also representatives of your company. If, as a company, your employees have a high morale, it is usually because of your effective approaches to employee engagement and the recognition of their contributions.
Some ways to measure employee morale are observation, organizational output, employee satisfaction surveys or interviews with individuals. By understanding people's grievances, your business is better equipped to reduce turnover, disengagement, and absenteeism.
Importance of employee morale in remote work
Employee morale has an even greater significance for remote employees. When employees do not see each other physically and cannot benefit from shared experiences, it can lead to a feeling of disconnectedness. This makes maintaining morale for remote teams even more critical and challenging. Remote employees need to be kept engaged in their work and connected to the organization for their morale to be high.
Since remote work precludes the possibility of physical interactions, organizations need to get creative and find alternative ways to connect with remote employees through video calls, group chats, inspirational emails, etc., to keep them connected. The sense of connectedness helps remote employees feel a part of the company culture despite the physical separation.
An organization focused on growth always finds new ways to improve the working environment to improve employee morale. So, how do you do it?
How does employee morale impact productivity?
As discussed earlier, employee morale is affected by the company’s culture and needs to be closely monitored. Employee morale is crucial for business success since low morale causes low productivity and lower profitability.
Poor employee morale breaks down communication between employees and managers, increases absenteeism, increases internal conflicts, reduces collaboration between employees, affects the quality of work, and increases customer complaints - all leading to lowered productivity and poor business results.
How to measure/track employee morale?
To maintain control of employee morale in the organization, it is important to measure and track it periodically. The methods to measure and track employee morale include:
- Employee surveys. Well-designed employee surveys are an efficient means of gauging the morale of employees. A survey that asks the right questions will provide the organization with the information required to assess the actual state of employee morale, analyze the causes of low morale, and take corrective steps.
- Tracking employee history. Monitoring and tracking employee history on such parameters as absenteeism, work quality, disciplinary issues, etc., act as indicators of employee morale. Rapid fluctuations in these parameters should trigger managers to talk to the employees and institute corrective measures.
- One-on-one meetings. This is probably the most direct and effective way to assess employee morale by talking to the employees firsthand. Direct questions on their satisfaction levels with work, the work environment, colleagues, etc., give first-hand and reliable information on the true state of employee morale. Doing these meetings periodically helps you look for patterns and trends.
- Monitoring performance data. Organizations can track employees’ productivity metrics, such as timely deliveries, work quality, etc., to identify patterns and talk to employees to ascertain causes of poor performance and discuss ways to improve morale and performance.
- Observing employees at work. Managers must observe employees at work to locate signs that reveal poor morale. Employees should not be observed to find flaws but to find out what could be causing poor morale and lowered performance.
- Group interviews. This is an effective way to find out group dynamics that might lower morale. Group interviews also help employees think together to come up with solutions to any identified problems.
Factors affecting employee morale
There are always warning signs that tell managers about the state of the morale in the organization. The factors that affect employee morale include:
- Meaningful work.
- A well-designed recognition and rewards program.
- Employees’ alignment with the values of the company, its vision, and its purpose.
- The lack of the right tools for the job.
- Poor leadership.
- Opportunities for professional and personal growth.
- Autonomy at work.
- The work environment.
Ways to Improve Employee Morale
Having understood the importance of prioritizing employee morale and its impact on organizational productivity, it is important also to understand how employee morale can be improved. Proven methodologies to improve employee morale include:
Create Alignment. The starting point of any morale-building effort is aligning employees with the organization’s values, vision, and mission. It is important for the organization to continuously share and reiterate this information and share progress as well as any setbacks. When employees are aligned with the organization's direction, they feel engaged and motivated to give their best.
Build Trust. A study shows that over 87% of employees want transparency in the companies they work for, and 80% want a greater understanding of the decision-making process in their organizations.
Create and maintain an open line of communication. Employees should trust the organization enough to be able to speak constructively during team meetings. They should understand what their responsibilities are and should also be able to express their expectations of the organization. Greater transparency fosters trust in the leadership. Trust enhances engagement. Engaged employees have higher morale, are motivated to work harder, and are more productive.
Recognize and Reward Good Work. Recognize and reward good work done by the employees. This raises their self-worth and motivates them to do quality work and work in a more productive manner. The recognition could either be formal or informal. This has a cascading positive impact on increasing loyalty, morale, and customer satisfaction. Recognition and reward give employees a sense of accomplishment. The rewards can be through verbal or written appreciation by the managers, public felicitation of good work or success, monetary rewards such as performance-based bonuses and raises, offer of perks, etc.
Creating growth opportunities for employees by promoting internally over external hires, providing opportunities to change teams based on interests and skills, opportunities for upskilling, etc, are all proven means for improving morale. Above all else, recognition makes the employees feel valued and that is the biggest reward that has a disproportionately large positive impact on morale.
Avenues for Professional Development. Employee morale and satisfaction at work plummets when employees are not able to see any avenues for professional development in the workplace. Provide opportunities to employees to aspire for new responsibilities and give them the freedom to seek challenging projects and development courses. Employee morale improves when employees see organizations investing in their professional development. The organization also benefits from the higher quality work that the employees will deliver and the superior business results that follow.
Obtain Employee Feedback. Actively seek employee feedback. This signals to the employees that the organization is listening to them. Together with seeing feedback, it is also important to act on the feedback received. Progressive organizations periodically publish reports on the feedback received from their employees and the action taken on the feedback. This conveys to the employees that their opinion makes a difference and that the organization is responsive to their opinions and concerns - boosting their morale. Employee feedback should not be a one-off or a start-stop activity but should be an ongoing process throughout the year.
Foster a Positive and Encouraging Culture. A positive and encouraging culture at work pushes up morale. However, this needs to start with the leaders. Leaders need to demonstrate positivity even when faced with challenges. They need to act as role models of optimism and positivity. When the leaders remain positive, it rubs off on the employees. All round positivity across the organization boosts employee morale.
Invest in Team Building. There is a strong correlation between team bonding and employee morale. Organize team-building activities carefully designed to bring employees closer together. Involving employees in the choice of team-building activities is a good starting point to strengthen team bonding. In the current times of remote and work from anywhere mode of working, team building assumes even greater significance.
Encourage Work-Life Balance. A healthy work-life balance in employees' lives is an easy way to boost morale. It helps employees guard against burnout and keeps them motivated to give their best at work. Encourage employees to develop interests outside work. Talk to the employees about the productive use of working hours and the need to avoid the urge to stay back late at work as a matter of routine. Slacking off during working hours and staying late to compensate tends to become workplace culture - leading to lowered morale. Such positive workplace attitudes will take root only if the leaders model such behavior. Leaders should also follow healthy and productive work practices.
Pay Attention to Employees’ Mental Health. The recent pandemic and the ensuing isolation brought to the fore the importance of employees’ mental health. Watching out for signs of burnout, stress, unhealthy pressure of deadlines, etc. is critical for maintaining and improving morale. Stress and burnout inevitably lead to poor morale. When organizations pay attention to mental health issues it enables them to spot trouble early and take pre-emptive corrective action. When employees see their managers being concerned about their mental well-being, it acts as a strong morale booster.
Tips to boost employee morale
To ensure that an organization checks all the right boxes, they have to be present and active in all matters that influence employee morale. Some common determinants of employee morale are:
- Trust in the purpose and function of the team
- Faith in the leadership
- Belief in each other within the group
- Certainty in the working conditions
- Economic rewards and growth opportunities
- Job security and work culture
By giving employees an opportunity to showcase their skills and benefit from a coordinated process, organizations can continuously improve the workplace.
Below are six sure-fire ways to improve employee morale that you can implement right now.
1. Show appreciation for people's efforts
Employees who aren’t recognized for their contributions feel undervalued. A word of appreciation can make a world of difference. Praise them for the good work to discover improved willingness and cooperation in them.
2. Listen to their concerns and ideas
By listening to employees, you can encourage them to share more ideas and improve the way they work. Building a relationship based on trust is possible when you empathize with employees and find ways to improve their work-life.
For example, considering remote work or a hybrid work culture is becoming more apparent because both employees and organizations get many advantages. But you would only know how your employees feel if you engage with their ideas and listen to their needs first.
3. Reduce repetitive and mundane labor
You can dedicate people to more strategic jobs by outsourcing tedious and time-consuming tasks. In the age of technology, you have to adopt practices that reduce repetitive labour. By streamlining business operations, you can also dedicate more time to employee development, which significantly benefits the organization and individual.
4. Foster team building activities
When people work together, the greatest accomplice to growth is collaboration. When individuals work well together, it creates a happier and more productive work environment. Team events, monthly outings, celebratory meals, movie nights and sports events are excellent examples of team-building activities to boost employee morale.
5. Make use of incentives
A great way to attract and retain talent is by offering employee benefits like monetary bonuses such as performance-based hikes, spot awards, easy insurance policies, and quickly approved loans. Meal vouchers, premium discounts, and on-premises entertainment are other examples of companies' incentives to foster positive employee experiences.
6. Build a pleasant work environment
A well-organized, well-lit, and cheery office is an excellent place to work. A calm, empathetic and respectful leader is a blessing.
Reward employees for their time and effort by making the workplace comfortable with ergonomically designed workstations and smart technology tools. Throw in some potted plants to add some flavour. Use artworks to keep them energized and creative. Don’t shy away from asking your employees how they’d like the office to look and feel!
By taking small steps to address employees' welfare, health, and workplace attitude, you can also reward employees with extra days off from time to time. The sky's the limit to what can be done to foster great experiences.
When your employees feel supported, they are convinced to do their best work. This is a universal truth that you can nurture by putting them first.
Employees perform better when their morale is high and they feel connected to their work. Positive morale in the workplace is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. Positive morale acts to empower employees mentally by making them happy and engaged at work and enabling them to perform at their most productive levels.
Employee morale is kept high by providing them with meaningful work, informed leadership, and the autonomy to think and act for their and the company’s good. The leadership needs to take practical steps to help employees find meaning in their work and keep their morale high.
Mesh is a powerful platform for all your employee performance and engagement needs. At Mesh we can help you with all your needs related to goals and OKRs, performance reviews, recognition and feedback, eNPS and pulse checks, and 1:1 conversations with employees.
If you’re wondering about how to get started with improving employee morale, use pulse and engagement surveys on Mesh to visualize your people’s experiences in real-time. Book a free demo today!