Work pressure, meeting deadlines and achieving targets in stipulated time is the norm of the present day workplace. No wonder, under such scenario, the problems with keeping one’s morale high becomes much more obvious. Employees are driven by the fear of downtrodden economy and losing their jobs. The fear to drive revenue smoothly in the distressed economy being the biggest challenge, often lands up individuals in a state of feeling utter dejection and low morale. Apart from economic insecurities, there could be a plethora of other reasons for low morale in your workplace.
Low morale not just has negative impacts on the individual, but also affects the workplace productivity by random increase in work errors, hinders cooperation between the team members and the departments, etc. and if left unchecked can amount to problems with graver complexity.
Morale as defined by Cambridge dictionary is “the amount of confidence felt by a person or group of people, especially when in a dangerous or difficult situation”. This vividly signifies that morale is an emotional issue and the company and the management needs to address it timely as it is as much important as the financial excellence.
One of my friends Rithvik, a successful businessman, staunchly believes that success demands perseverance, persistence, pursuance and purposiveness (the four P’s defining his workplace ethics). He further adds, “Success for me is a cumulative effort of my employees and I put every effort to ensure their personal and professional well-being”. To keep the morale of his employees high he puts in every effort to make them feel they belong to a team in which every individual contributes equally and they are associated with an organization that cares for them. Well, that seems quite impressive indeed, but this might not be the scenario in other workplaces.
Reasons Behind Low Morale of Employees
Let us enumerate some of the reasons behind low morale of the employees.
Indigent Directorship--- A poor torch bearer is not able to address the issue that causes the main problem. This can be attributed to their management style (unequal workload distribution among employees or work overload, partiality, etc.) or their incompetence to handle the situation. No matter what the reason, lackadaisical attitude towards the employees’ wellbeing would only bring adverse effects to the organization and thus should not be encouraged. Employees’ dissatisfaction would only hamper the growth of the organization. The issue should be nipped in the bud.
Employee Expectation--- It is a human desire to achieve with each passing day. Well, there is nothing wrong with taking your career graph up, but over-expectations would only lead to distress. The employees need to strike a balance between their desire to earn more and take more challenging tasks so that they do not feel being underutilized. Other reason for distress could be the undefined expectations of the managers and the desire of the employee to meet the expectations of the workplace so that their performance review is not hampered in any way.
Incompetent Employees ---- As the saying goes “One Bad Fish Can Spoil The Whole Pond”, and when the management is not able to catch hold of the underperforming employee, it leads to spreading of pessimism among the entire staff. This adversely affects the teamwork too.
Ways To Deal With The Low Morale
Before we deal with morale issues, we must first find the source and take steps to mitigate it so that it does not creep in. For instance, throwing get-togethers and parties might raise the morale, but it has a short-term effect. In fact, none of the feel-good activities would address this issue on a long-term basis. All the reasons cited for low morale among employees such as indigent directorship, employee expectations and incompetent employees need to be addressed. The employees may not be able to express about the feeling of dejection that is creeping in and they simply wait for the management to come to their rescue.
The management is found to be callous towards them advertently or inadvertently. But, the management shouldn’t forget that morale has purely emotional aspect to it and to keep the employee morale high, the management must ensure that the work of the employees is being appreciated. This would inculcate the feeling of belongingness among the employees and subsequently development of respect towards their peers and the management. When they are made to feel valuable and worthy member of the team, they are sure to enhance the output of the organization.
#1. Appreciation and Recognition
“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put that into words is all that is necessary”-----Margaret Cousins
It is a human nature to get one’s work recognized, acknowledged and appreciated. The employer should take every single measure to make the employee feel that his work has been appreciated and adequately rewarded. Here, good work too is a subjective matter, but appreciation whether it’s a little or a lot is the secret to happiness. Even small gestures like “Thank You” on the completion of a task by an employee can make them feel wanted and respected, thus boosting their morale. On a wider scale, awards and public recognition of the work done by the employees can boost their morale and result in increased performance of others. Appreciation goes a long way as a motivator and in any form boosts the morale of the employees and the productivity in turn.
#2. Dealing With The Bad Fish
“Pessimism is an excuse for not trying and a guarantee to a personal failure”----Bill Clinton
“Pessimism, when you get used to it, is just as agreeable as optimism”-----Arnold Bennett
These two quotes clearly indicate that a negative or under-performing employee would only be instrumental in draining the morale of the other employees faster. Issues related to them can be curbed with regular follow-up meetings and progressive discipline. Deal this issue by respecting the privacy of the employee and avoid making it noticeable to other employees that you are talking about a specific employee, but don’t hesitate to eliminate that bad fish before it erodes the positive work culture.
#3 Association and Motivation
“Employees who believe that the management is concerned about them as a whole person, not just an employee, are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers which leads to profitability.”----Anne M Mulcahy
Management should develop a bond with the employees so that they feel they share common goals. Motivate and challenge your employees by playing active role in their career advancement.
People work for money and career growth, but would make greater efforts for recognition, appreciation and rewards. Management shouldn’t leave any stone unturned to recognize the efforts of their employees, deal with the negative employees, learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of each employee and allocate the responsibility pertinently so as to boost their morale and reap the benefits.