By David Price, CEO of Health Assured
Staff morale impacts every aspect of your business. In this article we cover what it is, how it impacts your team, and how to improve the morale of your team.
Morale is one of the most critical aspects of team dynamics as it affects every part of a business—especially productivity, staff turnover, reputation and atmosphere.
Here, we’ll examine morale—what it is, what it does, how a lack of it impacts businesses, and how to improve it quickly.
What is staff morale?
Staff morale is a function of satisfaction, motivation and happiness with the task at hand, the workplace, and the team a person is working with. Staff satisfaction can be estimated at a glance—simply by checking on people, their moods, and their work output. If people seem happy, and their work is good, you can assume that morale is high. Likewise, if there’s tension and unhappiness, with low productivity and high staff turnover, morale is likely low.
The impact of low morale in the workplace
Low morale is a significant cause of low productivity and high staff turnover. And no-one wants that. Low team morale is more than just unhappiness or a low mood; it’s pervasive and affects everyone.
When morale is low, it creates something of a feedback loop. The negativity builds and iterates—if someone is dissatisfied with their working day, they tend to lose the motivation necessary to improve it. Work becomes a chore, tasks are neglected, and the negative feeling begins to seep into other areas of the organisation.
How to measure team morale more accurately?
There are some things you can do immediately to get an idea of how a group is feeling:
- Ask: this is a simple and direct way to see how morale is faring. It works best on an individual level—by asking people in their catchups and one-to-ones about how they’re finding work, how they’re getting on with their teams and how they think they’ll cope with the tasks ahead this can prompt people to open up and share worries that could be affecting others.
- Observe: watch, listen, and pay attention to how your teams interact—both with themselves and others. This is to gauge mood—while morale is far more than just mood, spotting trends, dips and peaks can help you understand what might be affecting morale in your team.
- Research: this involves setting out and actioning long-term surveys and questions about how the team are finding their work, colleagues, and future. It can be as simple as a monthly survey, with results collated into a database—this way, you can easily track and formalise moods and opinions based against events and trends.
How to encourage staff morale:
The first thing to do is step back and figure out why morale is low. There are countless possible reasons, which commonly include:
- No communication: Leaders need to lead, and managers need to manage. When senior staff seem distant and unapproachable or fail to respond promptly, this can build resentment among people who feel their voices are not being heard.
- No positivity: A lack of positivity quickly brings even the most cohesive teams down. Misery really does love company, and constant nit-picking and questioning are certainly contagious.
- No incentives: a major cause of low staff morale is a lack of reason to feel otherwise. Goals—beyond simply making it through the week ahead—are necessary to keep people engaged.
- No consistency: routine is necessary. When structure, process and even location are subject to constant change, morale plummets. It’s hard to feel engaged and focused on your tasks if you’re unsure about how those tasks will be measured, distributed or worked upon week after week.
- No autonomy: if people feel they’re not trusted to make decisions or complete tasks under their own steam, they feel undervalued.
If these resonate with you, then you need to take some steps to boost morale:
- Share ideas: not just your own. Start open forums or set up a dedicated email inbox for suggestions and ideas. Not every suggestion will be acted upon, but it’s a great way to quickly see and hear about issues that people are facing and how they would solve them.
- Offer advice: Speak about where you see the organisation going and include people in that vision—speak to their ambitions and make sure they’re included in your goals. When people have a better idea of what the future brings, they are far more likely to engage with and work toward those Ideas.
- Celebrate achievement: when people go above and beyond, let them know you appreciate it. Team emails, personal thanks and notes are things that will go far. Not only will people appreciate the thought, but you’ll go some way to enhancing your reputation as an excellent organisation to work for.
- Talk: teams thrive on good communication, and thriving teams are teams with great morale. Encourage chats, in-person or via video call. Getting everyone together, even just on a call, improves cohesion and morale.