We all know about morale. It is that certain esprit de corps, the mood of the company, that willingness to exert oneself on the job, or a feeling of victory or contentment. Morale can be fatal or helpful in determining your company’s overall viability and financial success.
Should you be concerned about morale?
Yes. Simply stated, when morale decreases for whatever reason, productivity usually tumbles right along with it. Costly employee absenteeism, accidents, turnover and dissatisfaction increase. Without your concern and action to attack the causes of decreasing morale, the mood, motivation and activity levels of your employees may be at risk.
So what can you do about it?
Firstly, leave the office and walk around. Open your eyes and ears. Get a sense of the levels of employee energy and contentment. Do they look productive? Do they interact with each other?
Take a look at management and non-management.
Are they doing what you think they should be doing, or are they sitting around, seemingly apathetic or unmotivated? Are they silent, or is there an appropriate level of noise or buzz in the atmosphere?
Next, take the simplest route to determining the morale level: convene a random sampling of employees from different units, sectors, teams or divisions. Invite them into an informal office or conference room, preferably with snacks to lighten up the atmosphere. Make it hospitable enough to encourage people to open up and share their experiences, thoughts and feelings. Let them get to know you.
Ask what motivates them; if they can be as productive as possible; what their goals are and if they can achieve them in your organisation; what their expectations and hopes are for themselves and for your company; what the obstacles to success are; what ideas of theirs haven’t been expressed or heard; and what they think is causing the current malaise. After just a handful of these informal sessions, you should have enough information to begin your next steps. Firstly, gather your key direct reports and core believers. Work with them to identify actions everyone can take to improve morale.
Next, create a positive atmosphere that encourages and allows employees to address issues with management without fear of reprisals for surfacing negative issues or limitations. Convene regular, interactive sessions where employees can meet with colleagues in other departments. Encourage them to express positives about work and the potential for more effective and satisfying experiences. Let them air complaints as well.
Increasing and improving interaction with others can have a very positive impact on sharing ideas and receiving different perspectives. The very fact that employees can meet each other, interact and voice feelings can improve morale.
The boss listens and learns. The employee expresses herself. Both gain something. Morale improves as a result, and everyone wins. What’s not to like?