Employee morale: the vitamin that boosts your organization’s immune system

The importance of employee morale for the success of an organization cannot be overstated. Employees with high morale have a positive attitude, and they are more productive, engaged, and happy at work. Engaged and motivated employees develop a better work environment, where employees work as a team, show gratitude, and enjoy working for your organization.

Last year, none of us was prepared for the havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most employees transitioned to remote work in a sudden attempt to stop the spread of the virus, and it hasn't been easy. Some are still trying to find the right balance between their professional and personal lives. Others are trying to overcome the fear, anxiety, and isolation that this situation has caused. And that's not including those employees who have caught the virus themselves.

According to the SHRM “COVID-19 Research: How the Pandemic is Challenging and Changing the Employers”, one of the biggest challenges for 65% of the employers was maintaining employee morale during these uncertain times. But no one could predict how long this would go on and how it would change work environments around the world forever.

Now, more than ever, employee morale is one of those things in business that is essential to understand, but what does it mean exactly?

This article dives into employee morale topic: what is affecting it and how you can boost it.

  1. What is employee morale?
  2. Why does employee morale matter? 5 benefits
  3. How can you measure morale?
  4. What are the factors affecting employee morale?
  5. Best ways to boost employee morale

What is employee morale?

Employee morale is a complex concept, and it involves many factors and variables, personal and professional.

Morale is how your employees feel about coming to work every day, how they approach and complete their assigned tasks and their attitude about the company’s direction.

An employee that is satisfied and motivated at the workplace tends to have higher morale than their counterparts. On the contrary, employees who are not happy in their workplace and constantly complain about the various attributes in an organization tend to have low employee morale. This is obvious in their behavior.

High morale is vital to any organization’s culture - a positive attitude creates a positive working vibe for everyone. And a positive working vibe is the perfect environment for increasing productivity levels.


Why does employee morale matter? Top 5 benefits

Owner, manager, or employee – no matter your role in an organization – you probably felt more than once the effect of low morale, as well as the benefits of high employee morale at the workplace. 

Morale is a huge business concern and one we should prioritize daily. To further emphasize the importance of employee morale, here are five significant benefits of employee morale below.

Low turnover rates

One of the top reasons why a business owner should make employee morale the top priority is turnover. Low employee morale is the reason that many people leave their jobs. Employees do not appreciate being treated harshly or unimportantly (i.e., like they are just numbers). Those employees are likely to walk out the door when they experience appreciation from another source. Happy employees want to remain at your company for the long haul.

Less absenteeism

Not all sick days are due to an actual legitimate illness. The truth is, sometimes employees decide to take a mental health day or call in sick because they can’t find the enthusiasm to turn up. They do this because they are unhappy with their role, the company, and what they do. Absenteeism results in wasted time, money, and performance. Companies can create effective performance management systems designed to elevate morale levels with a bit of effort, so employees are eager to turn up each day.

Improved teamwork

High employee morale comes hand in hand with high levels of job satisfaction and general feelings of wellbeing. As a result, individuals are more inclined to work and collaborate as a cohesive unit. We, humans, are gregarious beings who seek and need interactions with others. Employees with good morale levels feel more secure in their role and invested in your company. They work hard and accomplish more as a team. They have a shared vision and know teamwork is the best way to ensure your organization’s long-term success.

Increased accuracy and analytical skills

Understandably, low morale often causes employees to lose focus and stop caring about their jobs, which leads to an avalanche of mistakes. Neuroplasticity revealed the ability of neural networks in our brain to change their connections and behavior in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction. Thus, low moods could negatively impact how our brains process information. In a high-morale setting, on the other hand, employees tend to have greater attention to detail because they genuinely care about the outcome of a project. 

High morale encourages creativity

As firms increasingly find themselves in quickly changing and highly competitive markets, innovation and creativity have become the key to survival for many organizations. Being happy frees us from negative emotions, increasing the chance of combining unrelated elements to create something innovative and new. When companies have higher morale levels, their workforce becomes more innovative, solving complex problems in out-of-the-box ways.


How can you measure employee morale?

Human satisfaction is not an easy thing to quantify. How can you tell your employee morale is high or low? If you want to put a number on it, keep an eye on employee turnover and track it from year to year. But this too-little-too-late approach will only tell you whether your employee morale-monitoring efforts are working or not. What you really need is visibility into the problem before losing the employee.

Here are the most important methods of measuring the morale of the employee:

Observe

In theory, managers measure the morale of employees by observing their actions and attitude. But in practice, they do not find adequate time to observe the behavior of the employees carefully. Comparing the observations of the two periods, any change in the behavior and attitude of the employees will indicate high or low morale.

The supervisor is in the best position to measure by observation the subordinates’ morale daily. Still, he/she must sharpen the powers of observation and must not brush aside any helpful indicator. 

Survey

The management organizes attitude surveys to discover employees’ feelings about their jobs, supervisors, co-workers, or the organization. The attitude of the employees may be known either by direct interview or questionnaire.

Record and report

Certain records and HR reports of the company prepared for some other purpose help measure the employees’ morale. Indicators such as employee turnover, rate of absenteeism/ presenteeism, the number of work accidents, etc., can be interpreted as an index of morale.

Ask

The most effective way to measure employee morale is simply to ask. And the more often you ask, the more comprehensive your data will be. Using ongoing employee feedback tools like 360-degree feedback and staff surveys, you can create an open, communicative environment where employees are free to share their thoughts on the business. Whether deployed individually or as an ongoing initiative, these functions will allow employees to tell you directly how they feel.


What are the factors affecting employee morale?

Below are six of the most common factors affecting employee morale and ideas about how to address them to maintain high employee morale proactively.

Communication level

Communication is vital in any relationship, and the workplace is no exception. The extent to which a company does or doesn’t share clear expectations and feedback directly affects employee morale. When communication is open and assertive, responsibilities and intentions are much more clearer.

There is a wealth of options to implement clear and effective communication. Consider a weekly newsletter to recap the week’s achievements, regular morning meetings to touch base, and monthly company-wide gatherings to bring different departments together. In addition, tools like Slack can expedite communications and give employees better access to one another. 

Workload

Every company has peak times, but burnout is right around the corner when workloads become unreasonable for too long. Better company time off management and evenly distributed workload can decrease the stress of accomplishing tasks and lead to a more positive work experience. Employees won’t feel the need to cut corners or become discouraged in not being able to complete their growing to-do list.

It’s essential to be conscious of your employees’ workload. Having periodic check-ins to let employees know that you care how they feel will make them feel valued. It is also a valuable time to assess their feelings on their workload and how you can proactively provide support.

Teamwork mindset

Being a part of a team is one of the most rewarding parts of their job for many people. When companies foster a teamwork-oriented environment, employees share the workload and interact with each other more. This atmosphere promotes collaboration and creativity while making the workday more enjoyable.

Consider planning team-building activities outside of the regular work environment to foster collaboration, build trust among employees, and create a more inclusive company culture.

Overall trust

Companies want to trust their employees, and employees want to trust their leadership. Having mutual trust builds confidence in the capability of the team to accomplish their tasks.

Company leaders should empower employees to do their best work and limit tactics like micromanaging that make employees feel like they aren’t trusted. Delegating tasks to employees and providing them the appropriate tools can show that you trust their work abilities and judgment.

Incentive programs

Hardworking employees like to be rewarded for a job well done. Incentives can motivate employees to work harder and stay consistent in their roles.

Offering rewards like bonuses, additional paid time off, gift cards, or work trips helps keep work fresh and exciting and motivates employees to continue their great work. Combined with the next morale booster, you have a recipe for enthusiastic and productive employees.

Recognition

People want to be recognized for their contributions and hard work. In any relationship, when people feel appreciated, they tend to become more engaged.

Company leaders should prioritize regular recognition and thank their employees frequently. Celebrating team and individual wins can help team members feel appreciated and confirm that they’re more than just a number to their company.


Best ways to boost employee morale

If you want to boost your employees’ morale, you must know that it is not a one-time event. As low employee morale takes time to form, so does elevating it. In that sense, it is best to apply numerous strategies for optimizing your overall workplace culture to give your employees the experience they deserve.

But, for all these strategies to work, some primary conditions need to be met. If your employees do not receive fair wages or their work environment is discriminatory, it is not likely that any of these strategies will work. Your baseline of decent working conditions should be solid if you want to build upon it.

Be transparent and stay connected

Don’t attempt to hide problems or avoid conversations when your morale is low. Be transparent and stay connected with your employees. Some of them may be buried under their to-do list or so busy with meetings that they haven't been able to start that project you asked them for. Others may not have the technology to be more productive or feel lonely and isolated working from home.

In addition, especially during the pandemic, advise your employees to stay connected with their co-workers as well. At the end of a meeting, encourage them to switch to lighter topics, such as family or pets, the things they do to kill boredom, easy recipes they've relied on, and more. All these issues are essential, and addressing them correctly will boost morale across the board.

Organize team-building activities

What is the importance of team-building games? Not playing, for sure. Team building activities push your employees to work together to solve problems or win friendly competitions. They lead to a healthy workplace culture, fosters open communication among newcomers, leads to creativity, and enhances productivity. Many HR professionals believe that teams are playing together work better together. Overall, fun and games lift peoples’ spirits and effectively boost your employees’ morale. Try organizing team-building events they will love remembering.

Improve employee health initiatives

The main lesson the pandemic has taught us is just how vital healthcare is, and we can no longer ignore mental health support as part of that. Offer online resources in the form of videos, podcasts to spread information and raise awareness. Invite trusted mental health counselors who offer telehealth appointments and conversations about anxiety, stress management, loneliness, depression, and more. 

Health-related initiatives can help reduce stigma and encourage your employees to seek help if they are experiencing any symptoms that interfere with their work-life balance.

If you don't offer organization-sponsored medical insurance, this is also a great time to introduce it. If you already have insurance benefits, be sure to send out a step-by-step post on how employees can use it if they or their dependents test positive for COVID-19. Now that vaccines are available, you can either offer small incentives or time-off to every employee who gets vaccinated.

Be flexible

Before the pandemic, only freelancers and digital nomads enjoyed flexibility in their schedules and remote work. However, the "new normal" has forced every organization to rethink their workplace practices to accommodate flexibility, which has become a necessity. More organizations are beginning to allow employees to decide how, when, and where to work - and many will keep these measures in place after the pandemic ends. Some of these measures include four-day workweeks, work from home or flexible working schedules, flexible holiday policies, hybrid workplace models, and no-meeting days, all designed to help employees find a better balance between their professional and personal lives. To implement practices like this, employees need a clear image of their work expectations to prevent the possible downsides of flexible working like procrastination or missed deadlines.

Share gratitude

Building a culture of gratitude does wonders for employee morale. Make recognition public, loud, and proud. Even just a simple compliment about an employee's work performance can go a long way towards reassuring them that the pandemic didn’t impact the quality of their work. Gratitude will help employees overcome performance anxiety and look forward to coming to work every day. Encourage managers and team members to exchange feedback regularly. Note that we have some thank you letter examples if you need some inspiration. Make every employee aware of all the positive developments happening at your workplace. Maintaining a virtual gratitude board where everyone writes what they are thankful for is a great idea for remote teams who may not connect as often as those who work in an office setting.

Discover how attitude, behaviors, and metrics contribute to company culture.

Go green with your workplace

Humans have an innate desire to seek connections with other forms of life and nature, which scientists call biophilia. Unfortunately, the spaces we spend most of our days – workplaces – tend to be stripped of much of their connection to the natural environment. 

Studies prove that going green isn’t just about saving the planet - plants can bring positive office morale, too. Additionally, the benefits of going paperless are multiple, including cost savings by reducing the budget for office supplies. The same goes for remote or home workers, too. Plant a seed and wait for the morale to blossom!

Conclusion

It’s more important than ever for managers to monitor the level of morale in the workplace. Addressing problems promptly and effectively will help ensure your workers maintain a positive outlook and remain as productive as possible during this uncertain time.

The attention you give to keep up employee morale can help you fortify relationships with your staff and improve retention, too.

Employee morale is not just the manager or employee’s charge or attitude. It is a collective responsibility of the employees and the organization to provide an encouraging working environment and a workplace culture that exudes positivity and goodwill.

To achieve the best, it is essential first to be the best.

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