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5 ways to overcome low employee morale

If you’re not actively working to improve employee morale, then you’re neglecting it.
by Larry Alton /  / Updated 
Image: Woman on skateboard in office having fun
By embracing the quirky aspects of your culture, you’ll lighten the mood and make mundane office tasks more fun. Westend61 / Getty Images
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Employee morale is one of those intangible aspects of running a business that you can’t afford to overlook. If you fail to give it the attention it deserves, your company will never realize its potential.

There’s nothing wrong with focusing on the bottom line and prioritizing sales goals. In fact, leading organizations across every industry place a huge emphasis on meeting strategic objectives. But to prioritize revenue at the expense of employee sentiment is deadly to the long-term potential of your business.

Objective metrics and goals matter, but so do subjective, sentimental issues like feelings. If you aren’t paying attention to employee morale, then it’s likely that you’re running it into the ground. And while you might not feel it in the short-term, you’re going to experience a whole host of negative ramifications down the road.

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Objective metrics and goals matter, but so do subjective, sentimental issues like feelings.

In companies where employee morale isn’t a priority, the workplace culture quickly becomes toxic, bitter and cutthroat. Problems fester, employees feel neglected and nobody is on the same page. Unfortunately, this is becoming the norm in many companies.

“Today, in most organizations, there’s vastly more fear and anxiety than joy and optimism. That’s seriously bad,” says Dr. Judith Bardwick, a corporate psychologist. “While success and recognition generate positive attitudes and energy, failure and non-recognition deplete and exhaust people. Organizations’ must get fear and anxiety levels down, and replace those feelings with a sense of hope, the purposefulness of a united and supportive community and a conviction the future will be better.”

In other words, we have to prioritize employee morale. We have to view employee morale objectives in the same light that we view sales and marketing goals. Because, at the end of the day, high morale will affect the bottom line just as much as the next sale.

5 Ways to Overcome Low Employee Morale

When you start paying attention to employee morale for the first time, you may be alarmed to find that it’s much lower than you had previously assumed. All is not lost, though. You can overcome low morale and re-engage your employees by doing the following:

  • Embrace a Unique Culture

You have a workplace culture, whether you realize it or not. Is your workplace culture fun and engaging? The more unique you make your culture, the more people will identify with it.

“By embracing the quirky, off-kilter aspects of your culture, you’ll lighten the mood in the office. The idea is to make things that people tend to dread — like meetings — more fun by doing something out of the ordinary,” says Jeff Murphy, Director of Communications at SnackNation. “Ideally, you want to do things that are both weird and authentic, meaning things that reflect the culture of the organization.”

  • Show Employees You Care About Them

Employees need to know that you care about them. This means setting up programs and taking proactive steps to put their health and happiness first — even when it doesn’t seem to make sense in terms of dollars and cents.

One practical idea is to hire a personal trainer to come in and provide workouts and exercise regimens for your employees. Not only does this help employees feel better about themselves, but it actually makes them more productive in the office. The key, on your part, is to hire a good trainer who knows what he’s doing.

“Everybody reading this right now, provided they are over 18, can become a personal trainer this weekend if they want to. Yeah you read that right: this weekend. It takes two days and clinics are run everywhere,” explains Kevin McClelland of BaseballTraining.com. “So when choosing a trainer in your area, choose wisely and ask for credentials, testimonials, pictures and who they have worked with or been mentored by.”

With the right trainer in place, you can provide each of your employees with targeted workouts that address their personal needs and health goals. As a result, they will feel cared for and have extra motivation inside and outside of the workplace.

  • Incentivize Performance

If employees feel like they’re going to get the same pay and recognition regardless of the work they perform, then there isn’t much reason for them to work hard. In fact, this dampens morale and makes people feel like they’re just going through the motions.

In order to build employee morale, find ways to incentivize performance. These incentives don’t have to be monetary in nature. Simple things like employee of the month awards, casual Fridays, catered lunches and free donuts in the break room are enough to get people moving.

  • Provide Opportunities for Upward Mobility

Average employees are content with where they are. They might hope to see a little bit of a bump in pay every year or two, but they’re just going to keep putting in the hours so they can cash a paycheck every other Friday. Great employees want room to grow and move up. If you don’t provide these opportunities, they’ll move on.

Nothing boosts employee morale quite like showing employees there’s room for upward mobility. This gives them something to strive for and make them feel that they’re in control over their future.

  • Listen to Feedback (and Implement Change)

As an employee, nothing is more frustrating than feeling like your opinions and feelings don’t matter. You hate the way something is managed, or how a process is handled, yet nobody listens to what you have to say. It leads to bitterness and a lack of appreciation. (Left alone, it also leads to high turnover.)

If you want to raise employee morale up from the grave, start gathering feedback. Better yet, start acting on the feedback you gather and give employees the chance to take part in enacting change. Not only will this make your organization better, but it’ll help your employees feel like valued members of the company.

Put Your Employees First

You’re either actively improving employee morale, or it’s being neglected. There isn’t much room for anything in between. And while most people assume that you can’t prioritize employee morale and profitability, these aren’t mutually exclusive ideas. In fact, the more you focus on raising employee morale, the more profitable your business becomes in the long run. Make the smart choice and start putting your employees first.

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