October 26, 2015
When you walk into your office, do you notice something a little disconcerting?
Your employees are not happy. They appear bored and distracted. They get bent out of shape over the most trivial things. They greet jokes with scowls and meet witticisms with silent disdain. Laughter appears forced and unnatural. These are some early signs of low employee morale. If you do nothing about it, you can expect things to get worse.
Here are 10 consequences researchers notice in companies that have a serious culture problem:
- Low cooperation on projects and no teamwork. People have difficulty coming up with creative ideas. They have poor follow through when it comes to getting things done.
- Backstabbing, gossiping, and bickering.
- Unexpected incompetence from able people.
- Accidents, mistakes and silly errors in the flow of work.
- A critical attitude from suppliers.
- An unexpected high level of customer dissatisfaction, expressed as complaints and returns.
- A higher rate of people coming in late or calling in sick. When things are getting worse, “no calls, no shows.” Worse still, colleagues often consider this a form of heroic resistance.
- Fabrications to cover up for bungled contracts or incomplete work.
- A higher employee turnover.
- Plummeting revenues.
Although employee morale is a fragile thing, many small business owners disregard it. They often ignore some of the signs of low morale with dismissive statements like “they have no work ethic” or “when I was an employee, I worked hard. People these days are just lazy”.
If owners and managers do nothing, things will only get worse. Owners or managers should take note of a few things, such as the symptoms of low employee morale. Fortunately, taking constructive action is easy to do. Let’s look at 5 simple things to raise employee morale.
1. Create a compelling vision for your company
Yes, a good paycheck and bonuses are incentives to work. But people are much more complex. Besides survival needs, there are also psychological needs. People long for a sense of significance. In their search for meaning, they long to make a positive difference to the world. So create a compelling vision about how your products or services are helping humanity. People want to be part of something important.
2. Improve the look-and-feel of your office
The environment can make a huge difference to the mood. Find ways to add more natural light to the office. Improve furniture. Modernize the office decor by investing in glass office desks and ergonomic chairs. Add some trendy artwork on the walls. If people feel that they are in a fish bowl, increase privacy. Conversely, if they find cubicles confining, create more open space. If your office looks good, people will feel good.
3. Create a sense of community
Offices are not school rooms, so chatting is not a crime. People should not have to look busy when the boss comes in. Fear, coercion, and obligatory subjugation completely deflate morale. Your employees should not feel that they are serving time. In a positive work culture, people are more creative and friendly, so corporate events are a good idea to boost morale.
4. Show appreciation
There are many ways employers can show more appreciation, but it can be something tricky. If it appears too glib, it will fail. If it appears to more like flattery than genuine praise, it can backfire. You should not be too lavish with your admiration, even if you are thrilled by the person. – instead of winning them over with your generous words, it can cause them to flee.
Other than the suggestions from this article, there are numerous other ways of improving employee morale. Managers should test what works and tweak what might work with a little change. Then, roll out the winners and cut back on the losers.
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