Low employee morale is an oh-too-common problem in a lot of workplaces. When we refer to employee moral, we are talking about the attitudes and opinions employee's have towards management or their environment.
In order to help alleviate the issue of negative attitudes and opinions, it's important to know the signs. There are many symptoms that can help you detect low employee morale such as:
- Poor communication with management and team
- Frequent absenteeism
- Excessive complaining over small matters
- Increased employee conflicts or fighting among staff
- Poor work quality
- Increased customer complaints
Fortunately, there are many ways you can go about fixing these issues.
UNFORTUNATELY, a lot of these ways simply just cover the issue with a band-aid rather than performing the necessary diagnosis and treatment to get to the root of the problem and get rid of it for good.
So before we start talking about how to fix this issue, we are going to discuss the common root antagonizers for low employee morale, and you might not like what we have to say...
Oh, the suspense! What is it? What is usually the driving force that causes all the symptoms we listed above and can damage a company's profit margin and reputation? Well as much as we hate to say it.. lack of team spirit is usually caused by the manager.
How is this possible? Let's see the common reasons that managers put a dent in team morale:
Your goals are too ambitious
This is a very common issue among companies. You have a company that is growing at a good, or even great rate and the manager becomes obsessed with growth and productivity. Think of it like being at a Casino; the more you win, the hungrier and more energetic you become to win more.. sometimes taking unrealistic measures to win more. What usually happens in this situation? You end up losing more than you gain.
Hopefully the analogy was clear on how this becomes an issue in the workplace. In fact there was an entire case study on this problem performed by Jim Lemoine at University of Buffalo School of Management:
"Some managers attempt to rapidly improve their organization's competitive position by adopting goals for impressive achievements that will excite staff and stakeholders," Lemoine said in a statement. "But if those goals are unrealistic because of current resources, employees may lose confidence in their performance and the organization."
An easy fix to this is to always garner your employees' feedback when setting new goals and tasks to make sure they are reasonable for them to meet and accomplish.
Lack of Communication
Not creating a stream-lined, comfortable environment for communication between the boss and the employees. Employees more-often-than-not have outstanding ideas to contribute that can increase performance and a better working environment. I mean there IS a reason for which you hired them. Let them do the talking.
However, if you create a hostile environment where employees can't appropriately speak their mind, you're causing a lot of damage to morale, which in turn causes a lot of damage to your company.
Like the last problem, this is also relatively easy to fix. Employees should be encouraged to voice their ideas and concerns to management without repercussions. Set up guidelines that let employees know how to privately discuss issues, and never make them feel as though they are doing something wrong by doing so. You can also look here for more tips on how to fix the problem!
You're Not Taking Advantage of Employee Potential
This is probably the second-most leading cause of negative team spirit. Not identifying and making use of each of your employee's strong-suit is a big no-no. In most situations, employees are hired for positions they are over-qualified for, or have different skill sets that go beyond their paid position. It's important that you acknowledge that and challenge your employee's in way that takes advantage of their untapped capabilities.
You don't want to have all of your talented employees in a slump. This is just damaging your company for no reason. It's like buying new clothes that has the potential to make you look more attractive and confident, but then continuing to wear beat up t-shirts that keep getting dirtier and filled with more holes. You have the resources the flourish, it's up to you make use of it!
I hope these tips help you identify the cause of low team morale. Let us know what you think!