How to Boost Employee Morale to Improve Performance

Boosting employee morale is an urgent concern for leaders. Gallup’s recent State of the Workplace report found that 85% of employees are not engaged at work! This shocking statistic is a wake-up call for managers around the world. 

Positive employee morale is more than just a nice thing to have; it is a necessity. According to Zippia, disengaged employees cost an additional $3,400 for every $10,000 in salary. They have a lower productivity rate, lower profitability rate, and a higher absenteeism rate. 

However, happy employees can boost performance in an organization. Companies with a highly engaged workforce are up to 21% more profitable and 17% more productive. 

What Causes Low Team Morale?

There can be many causes for low morale within an organization. Some commonly reported reasons include: 

  • Poor Organizational Communication 
  • Low Pay
  • Micromanaging
  • High-Stress Work Environment
  • Lack of Opportunities for Advancement
  • No Employee Development or Training
  • Constantly Changing Priorities
  • Lack of Trust
  • Toxic Work Culture (Harassment, Bullying, or Disrespectful Conduct)
  • Lack of Feedback and Recognition
  • No Flexibility in Work Schedule or Location

Employers may or may not be able to address every issue that can cause low team morale. For example, it would be difficult to allow remote work for a factory line worker or cashier. Likewise, changing the fact that an Emergency Room Nurse works in a high-stress job might not be possible. 

However, improving the employee experience is always possible, and it usually begins with company culture and strong leadership. 

5 Ways to Improve Employee Morale

1. Leadership Development and Training 

Employee satisfaction starts with having great leadership within an organization. As noted above, not offering professional development and training programs is one cause of low morale. However, improving leadership skills on your team benefits everyone. 

In fact, 39% of employees are loyal to their job because of their immediate supervisor. 

Investing in leadership development and training strengthens the skills of your existing managers, leading to better morale for the whole team. 

2.  Encourage Open Communication

Communication is crucial to improving employee morale. Encourage employees to speak up and ask questions. Managers should have regular check-ins with staff so they know what is expected of them. Check-ins give workers an opportunity to troubleshoot issues. 

Part of open communication is also providing regular feedback and receiving it. Team members should feel comfortable discussing areas of concern. Lack of feedback regarding performance can make employees feel unimportant and unseen within an organization, leading to poor morale. 

3. Build a Positive Workplace Culture

Building workplace culture starts at the top. Leaders must set the tone for the entire organization. Workers will look to leaders to determine how to behave and interact with others. A positive workplace culture focuses on building trust and treating everyone with respect and dignity. 

Employee morale also improves when team members feel they have friends at work. Therefore, it is important to create opportunities for team-building activities. Remember to include remote employees when building connections across an organization.

4. Connect Work with the Organization’s Mission and Values

When employees feel their work is meaningful, it quickly boosts morale. Leaders should consistently communicate how each employee contributes to the organization’s success. 

Each individual contributor should know how their role impacts others and how that relates to the mission and values of the company. Every contribution from the front line to the C-Suite is significant and deserves recognition. 

5. Focus on Employee Well-Being. 

Mental health in the workplace must be top of mind for leaders. Since the pandemic, reports of workers struggling with burnout, anxiety and depression have skyrocketed. Caring for employee well-being should go beyond human resources and insurance packages. 

Leaders should focus on creating a healthy workplace by encouraging work-life balance. That means leaders modeling behavior, including taking regular breaks, using paid time off, and prioritizing health and wellness. Offering mental health days is one thing. Insisting that workers use them is even better. 

Boosting Morale Starts at the Top

One of the most challenging jobs of a leader is to stay aware of the mood in the workplace. It is not enough to put a few programs in place, send out a memo and hope for the best. Great leaders know that awareness is the key to boosting morale, so it is essential to stay in touch with the day-to-day operations of the organization. Make time for conversations with employees at every level, and monitor rates of turnover and absenteeism for signs of trouble. In the words of Angela Ahrendts (Senior VP, Apple), “Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.”