What is Employee Morale?
Employee morale is defined as the overall satisfaction, outlook, and feelings of well-being that an employee holds in the workplace. In other words, employee morale is how satisfied employees feel about their work environment. Employee morale is important for many businesses due to its direct effect on productivity. Employees with higher morale exhibit higher productivity while employees with lower morale show lower productivity.
Importance of High Employee Morale
Employee morale can determine how successful a company is. Employees with high morale possess a better attitude, maintain higher customer service levels, and are generally more productive. Poor employee morale reduces productivity, negatively affects other employees and customers, and reduces efficiency. Here are reasons why high employee morale is important:
1. Increases productivity and efficiency
When employees enjoy the work environment, they will work more efficiently and productively. Employees with high morale enjoy going to work.
2. Increases quality of work
Employees with high morale produce higher quality work than those with low morale.
3. Provides a competitive edge in times of crisis
Employees with high morale provide a company with a competitive edge. For example, if a company is going through a recession, surviving such a crisis is far easier when employee morale is high. Employees work and pull through together. Therefore, high employee morale can help shield a company from the crisis.
4. Retains and attracts talent
Naturally, employees want to work and stay at a company with a good work environment. An exceptional work environment leads to higher employee morale, helping retain and attract talent.
5. Reduces costs
High employee morale lowers workplace accidents, reduces absenteeism, lessens stress, and decreases the number of paid leaves an employee takes.
10 Effective Ways to Boost Employee Morale
1. “Good Job” Goes a Long Way
Busy days turn into busy weeks, which turn into busy months and years—which means we often forget to stop and celebrate small successes. But taking a moment to recognize your team members for a job well done in their day-to-day work is the easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to boost morale.
That said, it's important to recognize people the right way—you shouldn't just hand out meaningless compliments. Take notice when someone has improved or gone above and beyond, and tell her that you were genuinely impressed with the particularly good work she did.
Also make sure to find opportunities to highlight the individual contributions of your team members in front of others. Giving recognition in front of higher-ups, clients, or at staff meetings can go a long way to making team members feel valued.
2. Ask your team members for their input
It isn't always easy to tell when agents are feeling content versus overwhelmed – especially in a remote work environment. Not everyone feels comfortable opening up when they're unhappy or stressed, so don't assume that no news is good news.
As for how to get a pulse on how your agents are feeling, try leveraging surveys. Polling agents (anonymously!) is a great way to get a feel for their morale and obtain feedback on ways to improve customer support operations through comments. Best of all, this works just as well for remote agents as it does for those who are on-site.
As for the types of questions you should ask, it really depends on what you're hoping to learn. But consider getting started with these go-to choices that allow agents to choose where they fall on some sort of ranked scale:
- How satisfied do you feel at work?
- How well do your job responsibilities align with your expectations?
- How supported do you feel in your current role?
- Do you feel you're appropriately recognized for doing a great job?
- Do you feel your opinions are heard and valued?
- How are you able to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
- Are you satisfied with the promotion and advancement opportunities you've been given?
Consider regularly surveying your agents as well. U.C. Berkeley recently launched a series of anonymous surveys to get a better understanding of how employees were feeling over the course of several months. This makes it possible to see how metrics fluctuate over time and whether some adjustments are in order.
Were your agents just stressed during the holiday season or is there a long-term issue that needs to be addressed? Has morale improved since you instituted a new policy or system? Reflecting on this long-term data will provide you with more actionable insight than a one-off survey and will demonstrate that you're committed to your agents' well-being for the long haul.
There are tons of platforms you can use to create polls, and many of them are free. Google Forms and SurveyMonkey are both easy to use, so it's a good idea to start with one of those. You can always upgrade to a more robust tool later if you need to.
3. Be transparent with your company's vision and goals
Jacob Morgan, author of The Future of Work, believes strongly in transparency in leadership in allowing your people to see and understand the full scope of the bigger picture and thereby gaining their buy-in into your grand vision and support in reaching your company's goals.
“One of the most valued aspects of corporate culture across the board is transparency. Employees tend to feel much better about their organization when management is transparent with the company's progress, goals, and actions. The more transparent a company is about its actions, the more employees will feel comfortable.”
4. Celebrate Your Employees' Accomplishments
Has your marketing team just completed a 3-month, in-depth overhaul of your website? Did your sales team just reach $5 million in sales in one year? Did your newest customer service representative receive positive feedback on a customer survey? Did one of your employees complete a continuing education certificate?
Whether the win is big or small, recognizing both individual employees' accomplishments and team wins is a key component of boosting employee morale. By celebrating these wins, not only are you giving that employee a sign of approval for the hard work they've done, but you're also recognizing their contribution to the organization overall. This can lead to a renewed sense of purpose for that employee, and, in turn, can make them more enthusiastic to take on similar challenges or projects.
You can use an internal communications platform, like Workplace, to recognize employees' achievements & accomplishments. Workplace Groups, for example, can be used to promote employee recognition by providing a place where managers and leadership can post about an employee's achievements, highlight the great work an employee did, or call out a team or department for their contribution to the organization. Tagging allows an employee to know when they've been recognized, so they can go on and see the post. That employee's colleagues can also go on Workplace and “like” and/or “comment” on the post, providing their own encouragement and positive messaging to help boost that employee's self-esteem.
5. Establish a meeting-free day each week
Ever look at your calendar and see the whole day vanish into meetings? You might be at risk of burnout.
Meetings may be better than email floods (at least, if you're an extravert). But they can also be a fast track to job burnout. And when you're already working long hours, the unnecessary meeting hustle can ratchet up stress and sink morale.
So stake out a weekly meeting-free day for your company or team, and encourage folks to be more strategic and efficient with the meetings they do set. Less wasted time = less stress = happier employees!
6. Allow Breaks
Even high performers need an occasional break. Allow your employee some time off. It doesn't have to fall within the designated off days.
Alternatively, have a break room. Employees can use it to recenter themselves — to get their energy flowing again. You'll get better results from a relaxed employee than one panicking to meet deadlines and running on fumes.
Where employees are putting in extra hours, recognize the effort and reward it with paid time off.
While these steps are helpful on an individual level, the next six steps can help when you're dealing with a team.
One demoralized employee can negatively affect an entire workforce. So, how do you make sure the entire team is in sync and team morale stays high after a dip?
7. Avoid Unnecessary Negativity
No one enjoys being lectured or scolded. In fact, being needlessly negative about your employees' performance will only serve to cultivate an atmosphere of mistrust, anxiety, and decreased motivation in the workplace.
According to a Forbes article that cited statistics from a 2014 Danish study, the majority of people “don't leave jobs, they leave managers.” What does this mean for you?
It means that your workers – and your establishment – will benefit greatly from the attitude that it's okay to make a mistake or two; that it's okay if your employees aren't “on” all the time. Remember that they're people, too, and many employees genuinely want to do a good job when they come to work. The next time your waiter brings the wrong dish to a table, or the next time your cashier forgets to apply a discount code to someone's order, remember to take a deep breath before responding, and be charitable.
If you have feedback or suggestions for an employee, be kind – but be firm and transparent. One of the worst things you can do is let an issue fester or spiral out of control, letting it affect both your establishment and your relationship with your staff. Address an issue once, be clear about it, and then don't harp on it – expect improvement or changes from your employee. This expectation boils down to trust, which needs to work both ways: you should trust that your employees will correct their behavior or performance issues after you address them, and they should be able to trust that you'll promptly move on from the concern.
If, however, you're clear with a worker about their performance, and they choose to ignore your feedback (if they are consistently truculent or tardy, they aren't polite or helpful to customers, etc.), don't feel that you need to excuse their behavior. Take disciplinary action.
Criticize and discipline as you must, but go easy on the employees you know are doing their best. The result will be a more productive, dedicated staff who cares about you, and about the business.
8. Promote work-life balance among employees
Matthew Ross, the co-founder and COO of mattress review site The Slumber Yard, says that he and his co-founder both come from the investment-banking world, where late nights at work were commonplace. “However, for our company,” he says, “we feared the late nights would burn out our employees and eventually make them resent us.” When one employee resigned because of what Ross suspected was burnout, he says, “we knew we had to make a change or else other people would likely starting leaving as well.”
After an IT audit, he and his partner discovered that their employees were working well into the after-hours. In response, they made a new rule: No work emails between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.
“If we see email traffic during the off-time, my business partner and I will simply talk to the individual the next day and just remind them of the rule,” says Ross, who adds that while it's rare, it's usually a positive conversation. “We say something along the lines of how we appreciate their commitment and work ethic but we want them to enjoy their evenings.”
He points out that although they appreciate the hard work, high turnover is costly for business. “It takes time, money and resources to train up new employees,” Ross says. “When our employees go home at night, we want them to spend time with their families, partake in outside activities and just recharge their jets.”
He has since noticed that his employees seem more energized and upbeat in the mornings, leading him to believe that boosting employee morale increases productivity in the long-run.
9. Make sure everyone understands the “why”
President John F. Kennedy was visiting NASA headquarters for the first time, in 1961. While touring the facility, he introduced himself to a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA. The janitor replied, “I'm helping put a man on the moon!” The janitor understood the vision, and his part in it, and he had a purpose.
Everyone wants to feel that his or her work has a higher purpose. Sometimes, though, that purpose gets lost in the day-to-day grind. Remember to talk about the purpose behind what your employees do. Talk about the “why”.
10. Train your managers to become better coaches
Teaching your managers to seek out the unique talents of their employees will foster an environment that builds on those attributes, which also helps businesses remain agile during challenging times. Managers can put this approach to practice by helping employees create job descriptions that align their passions with the company's why. This naturally increases employee morale, engagement, and productivity.
Effective managers don't just push for high performance, they value helping people discover their natural talents and seek out opportunities to utilize those strengths. Not only does this tap into a deeper, more intrinsic type of motivation for employees, but it also allows managers to increase the capability of their teams.