Morale: why is it important in the workplace?
Not every job that you’ll have is perfect for you, and that’s natural. You might expect to feel unmotivated and tired out in a job that you’re not well suited to. But these kinds of things can happen even in your dream job. Those days when you just can’t muster the energy and enthusiasm up to complete the tasks you need to do. Why is that?
That’s because sometimes, employers don’t pay enough attention to team morale and team morale can be the difference between a motivated engaged workforce, and a disengaged one.
What is team morale?
Morale is the level of confidence, enthusiasm, and self-esteem that your employees feel in the workplace - when your employees are working within teams, it is the morale of every person within that group.
It’s often a communal feeling, or one that can be shared and spread: when some employees feel their morale slipping, it can really affect those around them.
Are you noticing that the atmosphere in your office feels a little lackluster? Do you feel that your employees are showing more reluctance to certain tasks? Or do you feel that performance levels have dropped compared to normal? If these sound like your team, they may be suffering from low morale.
When morale is high, it can perk up the whole team and drive them forward. It plays a powerful influence on employee motivation, satisfaction and - perhaps most importantly - it can massively influence productivity levels. But when team morale is low, the opposite occurs. That's why it’s so important to focus on morale and work to improve it.
We’re going to be look at how to do this in this post. We will look at the kinds of things that can affect your work force’s morale, and the best and most efficient ways to keep it high, so you can keep your employees happy and your company’s targets right on track.
What affects team morale?
There are a whole host of factors that might affect your team’s morale. Morale can change naturally, for example, team morale might be high after a successful client meeting or might be low if that meeting didn’t go quite as well as planned. There might be a feeling of low morale in the office after a round of lay-offs, loss of a big client, or it could fluctuate after bonuses or promotions are announced.
Morale can also be influenced through the office environment and company culture. Some companies go as far as installing nap pods in their office or have a team of puppies visit the workplace to boost everyone’s mood. But it doesn’t actually have to be as complicated. A simple employee reward system can do wonders for boosting your team’s morale - but we’ll get to that later.
Low morale is more than just having a bad day. It’s a feeling that can build up over a long time, and really take its toll on your work ethic and productivity. The most common reason for low employee morale is a feeling of dissatisfaction in your job, which can often stem from not having your hard work recognised sufficiently. It makes sense: there’s only so much satisfaction you can take personally from your work without having your team, clients or managers acknowledging the skill and graft it’s taken to do. And when levels of satisfaction, engagement, and morale start to dip, it can have more impact than you might think.
How does low team morale impact the workplace?
If your team morale dips – it will be clear in the atmosphere of your workplace and it could cause a huge effect on your business.
Some of the impacts of a low team morale include:
1. Employee satisfaction dips
When team morale is low, individual employees start to feel unsatisfied in their roles.
A whopping 61% of employees in the U.K. feel disengaged with their work, and suffer from low morale as a result. This means it's an on-going cycle - low morale leads to dissatisfaction, while dissatisfaction leads to low team morale.
When employees are unsatisfied in their roles, productivity and customer service may decrease. You might be even more surprised to hear that low morale costs the UK economy a jaw-dropping £340 billion a year.
2. Staff turnover increases
When morale is low, it can often cause employees to leave for other opportunities.
The costs associated with turnover include absenteeism, recruitment, onboarding and training to get new employees' to the level of those they are replacing – and these costs can be significant. While it also takes time, energy and money to recruit new employees, it can also be incredibly disruptive to the team dynamic you’ve been building when the members of that team are constantly changing - affecting company culture and team collaboration.
3. Productivity declines
Employee morale isn’t just about making your employees satisfied and happy in their jobs - it’s a cornerstone of a company’s productivity and profits as a whole. It’s a kind of domino effect: the morale of your employees determines their level of engagement, which directly translates to the level of output of work during their time in the office, and that in turn is reflected in your company’s development and success. This means that when morale is low, productivity and profit also take a hit.
How to boost team morale
While you might not be able to change what's happening in the wider organisation - you can create a positive environment for your team.
1. The power of praise
This all might sound a little scary and hard to overcome, but the answer to keeping up morale is actually a relatively simple one.
It all starts with praise.
Research has shown a strong correlation between managerial praise and employee morale, and proven that those who receive regular praise are more productive, more engaged and more likely to stay with their organisation than those who do not.
The simplest - and easiest - form of praise is verbal. Saying well done, or just giving a pat on the back, can go miles for employee morale. It shows your team that you’re taking note of their hard work, and keeping track of their development, even if it’s just with a small gesture.
Ensuring good morale is all about creating a work environment where praise is both meaningful and consistently given. We all know what it’s like when work starts piling up, and stress levels are high - giving praise can easily get buried at the bottom of your to-do list. That’s why there are employee reward systems like Perkbox's Celebration hub that make it easy to incorporate giving praise into your everyday work life, no matter where employees are working.
Take notice when someone has gone above and beyond or displayed company values - this type of recognition helps to drive great change and productivity throughout the business.
2. Set team goals
When teams work together, they come together.
Having a shared goal helps to boost morale but it's important that these go beyond annual performance metrics to really keep the team motivated and engaged.
When you set smaller, more frequent goals for your teams – it builds more excitement. Through Celebration hub you can set friendly competitions or polls, and everyone within the team can vote for the winner. You can either make these goals related to work, such as voting for the best team player, or start more playful competitions such as 'best tea maker' - whatever you choose, the whole team comes together in the name of friendly competition. You can also offer prizes to really get the team excited and give an extra boost to morale.
Most importantly, have a little fun in your teams and you will reap the benefits.
3. Quickly tackle frustrations
No matter how much your team members enjoy their work and work well together as a group – times will arise where morale takes a dip, it's only natural. It's important that you use these periods of low morale to gather feedback as this can help you to tackle any frustrations better next time they occur.
During these times, seek feedback from your team members into why they are feeling this way and what could be done to help. It can often be difficult for employees to be honest with their supervisors regarding more negative feedback, so choosing a confidential feedback tool can be a great asset here.
By regularly asking for feedback from your employees, you will know about anything in the company is bringing down morale and you can quickly tackle these problems. This will help to minimise any long term effects on morale and help to build a stronger workplace culture.
4. Surprise your staff with rewards
When your team members have been working long hours on a special project or pushing hard to reach their end of month targets - a great way to boost morale is to surprise your staff with a small gesture to show your appreciation. No matter how big or small the reward may be, from a gift voucher to their favourite chocolate – showing that you value and appreciate hard work will make it all feel worthwhile for your employees.
With Celebration hub, you have a wide range of reward options available to you, from big brand gift cards to subscription packages. You can also create custom rewards, allowing you to add even more of a personal touch.
5. Consistency is key
Most importantly of all, team morale needs to be kept as a top priority. Doing any of these steps as a one-off won't give the desired effect, you have to consistently give praise, reward staff and seek feedback.
It's important to remember that employees aren't going to be 100% happy 100% of the time - everyone has good and bad days.
Thankfully, as a manager or workplace leader, you can make small changes to the working day to boost morale.
By starting with recognising and rewarding for hard work, you can ensure that employees feel appreciated and valued for their hard work - boosting team morale while also increasing engagement and motivation levels.
For additional inspiration, feel free to look at examples of employee recognition schemes.