Employee morale can be an enormous factor in the pursuit of corporate success. A workforce that looks forward to work every morning will be more efficient, effective, and profitable. Poor morale is the primary driver of dissension, turnover, and inefficiency. Whether your company’s morale is good or poor, it is important to have an ongoing morale strategy.Most managers can sense when their teams have poor morale. However, early detection of the symptoms that cause poor morale is significantly more difficult. As companies develop and evolve, various internal and external stimuli can introduce morale problems into any team. If you already have a morale issue, you can fix the problem with the steps below. If morale is good, use the same techniques to protect yourself from future problems.
Open Communication Reveals Issues
Employees typically have thoughts about workforce morale, but are often reluctant to share those ideas with management. Taking steps to increase communication of ideas and issues is an important first step. If given the proper format, workers are likely to share comments with varying levels of value.
Some comments will be interesting but require no action; other comments may reveal issues that need immediate attention. Common concerns in companies with poor morale are slow decision-making, frequently changing priorities, limited training, poor communication, and the feeling of unfair treatment or inconsistent standards by which managers judge employees. These are serious deficiencies within a company and must be addressed as soon as possible.
To get started, take some time to devise a questionnaire or even install an office comment box at a location that provides anonymity. You may decide to use professional tools or solutions to evaluate employee morale, but in most cases, simple methods are sufficient to get the process started. You should also meet with your star players and ask questions about workplace morale.
Whichever methods you decide to use, be sure to ask questions pertaining to their overall job satisfaction and ask your employees to list the negatives about working for your company. Maybe it’s pay or a lack of flex time, or maybe it’s something that you never even thought of like poor lighting or the office always being too hot or too cold. Whatever the reasons are for morale being low, you need to find out what is troubling your workforce.
Keep in mind that to gather information accurately your employees must have an anonymous option to share their ideas and concerns. Most employees are far less likely to open up and tell you what is really bothering them if they know that you are going to know who said what. Keeping it confidential, private, and completely anonymous results in honest feedback and helpful information from which you can learn.
Get Morale Back on Track
Once you have determined your various opportunities for improvement, you have to decide what you can do about it. In some situations, you won’t have any control over the complaint; like an employee who wants a larger salary but you just do not have the budget to pay that employee what he or she wants. Also, some employees may make complaints that are petty, and it is your job to decide which causes are of real concern and which are just employees being unrealistic with their expectations.
It is also up to you to decide which causes you are going to address to improve morale in your workplace. Once you have a list developed, tackle each issue in a manner in which all employees can see. Just as there are sure to be many petty grievances related to low morale, there will be many complaints that are easily and quickly fixed. These issues are the easiest to correct, so address them first.
If a complaint from an employee was that a lack of training was making them feel inadequate, create a company paid training program. It’s easy and something that you should be doing regardless to improve the knowledge of your staff and to keep them up-to-date with their skills.
Take bigger problems, such as employee benefits or compensation standards, seriously by initiating the needed management discussions and investigations as soon as possible. Address your workforce face-to-face and make it known that you are aware of the issues and doing everything in your power to improve them. State that not all changes take place overnight, but you are working towards a resolution. Ask for you employee’s patience and thank them for making you aware of the problem. This shows that you are serious about change and your employees appreciate being included on major decisions within the company.
Because communication is the life line of any company-big or small-make the effort to keep your employees informed at all times. If there are outstanding issues, send a weekly e-mail, post notices, or have meetings to discuss the status and progress toward the issue resolution. Keeping up-to-speed on matters of value will build a good rapport between management and employees.
Some other key points to keep in mind related to improving or maintaining good morale include:
• Encourage employees to discuss their problems in a constructive and appropriate manner.
• Protect employees from unfair criticism.
• Develop a set of guidelines for salary and for reviews.
• Make training available where necessary.
• Encourage employee rotation where applicable to keep employees and positions fresh with ideas and new life.
• Implement a rewards program for overachievers to show your appreciation.
• Promote from within your company.
Maintaining good employee morale requires that you take action and show employees that things do change for the better when the lines of communication are open. By making an effort to open communication, show that you are receptive to change, provide career advancement, and treat employees fairly, you build your workforce’s confidence in you and commitment towards your company.