High morale can be described as a positive attitude and high satisfaction levels towards work, coupled with the willingness to freely give one’s best in the workplace. High morale results in confidence in one’s work and the ability to weather minor setbacks on the job.
Although morale and motivation are sometimes used in the same way, they differ. Motivation is concerned with the mobilisation of energy-it leads people to action, while morale refers to mobilisation of sentiment. Some scholars argue that while high motivation can lead to high morale, morale might not necessarily result in high motivation.
Low morale can lead to more conflicts in the organisation, apathy and dissatisfaction with management. According to studies, low morale is also responsible for low productivity.
Employees with high morale on the other hand deliver higher value to their organisations, have lower turnover and are better team players. Organisations therefore need to encourage high morale and here are a few ways how.
Set up and support open communication in the organisation-
Nothing is more confusing than wanting help or needing to share information and not knowing how to go about that. Communication lines need to be clear to maintain high morale. This requires an in depth revision of how communication works between employees and their managers and also employees with each other.
Communication should be complimented by action. Particularly if it’s between employees and managers. If not, employees will feel like they are not being heard and this can directly lead to low morale.
There are instances where some information has to be kept away from the employees. But if this isn’t the case, the company should strive for transparency with all the staff. It is demoralising for employees to hear rumours in office corridors and feel like those who were told are more important than others.
Feeling like they are an integral part of the organisation is an important factor in maintaining high employee morale.
Treat employees respectfully
Everybody wants to be treated with respect. This is especially relevant in the workplace. According to psychologist Jim Harter, PhD, one of the authors of Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, “Our careers are such a foundational part of our identities and how we think about ourselves.”
Showing respect can be as easy as speaking politely, listening to everyone, not being overly critical of employees and seeking to solve conflicts in a diplomatic way. Employees sometimes take cues from their managers. If a manager behaves respectfully, this positive behaviour will rub off on the rest of the team leading to a culture of respect.
Facilitate a positive workplace culture
Do not leave formation of workplace culture to chance if you are a manager. Certain things like how management handles success and failure can drive culture. How is feedback handled? Are employees listened to or is there blow back? Are mistakes steadily followed by firings?
If the answer to these questions is yes, before long your company culture will take on a negative tone. This will drive down morale. And morale both low and high, is contagious.
Prioritise employee growth
Nobody wants to feel stuck and stagnant in their career. And while employees have a serious hand to play in their own growth, managers should not sit back either. When management is flexible and allows for interventions like study leave, employees have a chance to grow.
Managers can also organise seminars, trainings and avail educational resources. Employees need to look at themselves and feel that they are better off than when they joined the company.
Employees need to be made aware of how they can grow in the organisation. The steps and skills they need to learn to get to their dream position should be clear.
In some instances, the move might be to a lateral position in another department. Management should be flexible and open to this as well.
Working environment and perks
Employees have been found to spend about a third of their life time at work. If the place where people spend all this time is uncomfortable then their morale will inevitably drop. They will dread coming to work.
It is important that the work place is comfortable enough for employees. A workplace should be clean, safe, well ventilated, amongst several others.
Recognise and reward employees
“Well done” are two words that contribute to high morale. In some cases a simple thank you is enough but you can take it one step further by rewarding those who excel with bonuses.
Don’t get into the thinking that rewards need only be financial. They can also be in kind. Managers are able to boost morale with perks. It can be anything from rewarding the earliest employees, giving gift vouchers and days off. Some workplaces offer a day to work from home once a week.
Paying a fair wage is important. In this information age, it is very easy for employees to find out how much their colleagues and others in the industry and similar positions are paid. If your company can not afford to pay competitively, the manager should lead this discussion and offer perks or other benefits instead.
This will ensure that your employee isn’t spending half of their time looking for another job and can focus and be productive at the job they already have.
Share the vision of the company
This should be done right from the interview stage. Let employees understand the vision of the company and how their own visions can be tied into it.
The company goals can also serve to boost morale. Goals that serve society can make employees feel that they are contributors to the world in a bigger way.
Train managers to be competent leaders
Having to deal with a difficult boss can be demoralising. They are the ones who sort out issues, escalate concerns and advocate for their teams. A confidence in the boss and their abilities will directly lead to high morale.
Companies should offer managers technical training as well training in areas like emotional intelligence.
Employees with high morale are assets to organisations, their fire can infect others and lead to overall improved productivity.
To improve and maintain high morale, leaders do well to put in place interventions that have a combined focus on the employees, their managers and the workplace.