11 Actionable Ways To Boost Employee Morale In 2023
If you want to make your organization succeed and maintain a high-performance culture, employee morale is a key factor to consider.
High morale among employees can result in increased productivity, engagement, sustainability, and profitability. In contrast, low employee morale can destroy your organizational structure. It can increase cases of employee discontentment, workplace conflicts, and poor performance.
"Whether you are the boss or an employee, low morale can be a killer."
-Ron Halversen, Clarity-Ventures.
If ignored, low employee morale can cost you much more than reduced productivity. As per a study, low morale among employees costs the US $350 billion each year. Ouch!
The only way to save your business from the disastrous effects of low employee morale is to find creative strategies to identify and address issues before they escalate.
But before diving into ways to boost employee morale, let's first look at what is meant by employee morale.
What is employee morale?
Employee morale is the attitude and feelings employees exhibit towards their work and workplace. However, morale is not just about employee happiness or satisfaction. It also reflects how employees perform, approach their tasks, and align with the company's core values.
If you go towards a more formal definition, Roberts Wesleyan University describes employee morale as:
"Employee morale is the spirit of a person or group as exhibited by confidence, cheerfulness, discipline, and willingness to perform assigned tasks."
Why should you care about employee morale?
Employers often focus on the relationship between employee morale and happiness because it directly impacts the bottom line. However, boosting employee morale can also have a broader range of benefits for organizations.
They directly influence and improve-
Gallup research shows that disengaged employees cost the world $7.8 trillion, and the US companies between $450 – $550 billion in lost productivity each year.
If you don't want your company to contribute to this cost, start working on improving employee morale. When employees have a positive outlook toward their work, peers, and company values, they are more engaged.
Motivation and Productivity:
Employee morale and productivity go hand-in-hand. In fact, happy employees tend to be 12% more productive.
Employees' attitudes directly affect their quality of work, efficiency, and performance. When people find genuine joy in their work, they start working with a can-do attitude. It also significantly boosts their confidence and performance.
As Edwin B. Flippo once said, "Morale is a mental condition or attitude of individual or group which determines the willingness to co-operate."
Employees with high morale often strive to contribute to the success of their companies by going the extra mile. They believe in the company's overall mission and don't hesitate to advocate publicly for their workplace.
What's more? When employees become your brand ambassadors, it automatically boosts your company image. With this, attracting and retaining top talent becomes as easy as a walk in the park.
Wandering how it can help you increase ROI? Have a look at these numbers-
Paid sick leaves cost employers around $160 billion annually.
The cost of absenteeism is roughly $3,600 and $2,660 per year for hourly and salaried workers, respectively.
Employee turnover can cost your organization 1.5-2 times the employee's salary. (Plus the damage done to the rest of the employees).
High-morale employees enjoy their job and feel invested in the company's success. You will see the resulting effects in a reduced number of absentees, paid leaves, and employee turnover. These reduced expenses will, in turn, boost your ROI in a domino effect.
In short, high-morale employees are the ones who take the initiative and come up with innovative solutions. They put effort into collaboration and creativity. This leads to higher-quality work and better organizational performance.
How to boost employee morale?
Employee morale at your organization depends on a number of factors. Let's find out how you can increase employee morale by tweaking and improving a few of these factors-
1. Transparent Communication:
When it comes to improving employee morale, clear and transparent communication can play a huge role. Here are a few steps you can take to strengthen your internal communication-
Keep your people informed about every decision, policy, positive announcement, and product development. At the same time, be transparent about issues. In a survey, a whopping 74% of employees agreed to feel that they are missing out on company news and information.
Communicate your company strategies and goals regularly.
Encourage employees to voice their opinions and ask questions during meetings. Encourage collaboration with peers.
Clearly communicate their roles and what you expect from them.
A Gallup survey found that only 50 % of employees know what their employer or manager expects of them. The lack of clarity about what is expected of them can lead to confusion, frustration, and procrastination on the part of your employees. In the long run, this can result in subpar performance, conflicts, and possible disciplinary action.
2. Bridge the Gap
Those of your employees who feel connected to their work, colleagues, and the organization as a whole have high morale. You will often see them go above and beyond to achieve team goals.
In a survey, 80% of employees said they prefer working at an organization where they feel connected to their teammates. However, only 4% of HR respondents reported having adequately addressed the issue of employee connection at work.
Provide your people opportunities to get to know each other through team-building activities. Such as company events, team outings, or a spirit week celebration.
If you are working with remote-only teams, make the activities virtual-friendly with small tweaks. Such as organizing Zoom karaoke nights or incorporating virtual water cooler activities.
3. Let Go of Negative Influences
"Negative interactions had a five-fold stronger effect on mood than positive interactions."
If you want to preserve your employee morale and motivation, the first step is to let go of people damaging it. Even if they fall under the list of top performers, you will gain more than the value lost.
If you are still not sure if it's the right move or not, here's an HBS study that attempted to calculate the hidden cost of these negative influences-
"In comparing the two costs, even if a firm could replace an average worker with one who performs in the top 1%, it would still be better off by replacing a toxic worker with an average worker by more than two-to-one."
4. Invest in employee growth and development.
A Gallup survey reported that up to 87% of Millennials look for development opportunities in a job. However, only 29% of employees are "very satisfied" with the advancement opportunities they are getting in their current job.
Invest in employee growth and development at your organization. Empower them with-
- Books or resources
- Introduce an LMS.
- Introduce them to a mentor.
- Let them work on cross-functional teams to broaden their horizon.
Even a small amount of their time dedicated to growth can give a huge morale boost among your people.
You can start your initiative by taking the time to learn which development goals are appropriate for your teams. Utilize one-on-ones for this purpose.
5. Put Employees Front and Center
Putting employees front and center with a consistent rewards and recognition system.
Employees who are recognized often show resilience in the face of challenges. They are ready to go over and above to take the company forward. It can boost morale by letting your employees know that their hard work and contributions are valued and appreciated.
"Treat employees like they make a difference, and they will."
– Jim Goodnight, CEO and co-founder of SAS Institute.
Start your recognition framework by appreciating your people often. Even a simple "well done" or a shout-out at the end of meetings or gatherings can greatly boost their morale.
Here's how we do it at Vantage Circle with our Employee Rewards and Recognition Platform-
Recognize socially and encourage peer-to-peer recognition.
Instead of a "one size fits all" formula, customize and personalize your rewards.
Offer non-monetary benefits. Such as paid volunteer time off, annual travel stipend, and additional WFH days.
6. Advancement Opportunities
Helping your people climb their way up can be conducive to high morale. Create career advancement opportunities for your people with a robust internal promotion strategy.
As can be seen in the image, lack of career advancement opportunities is the leading cause of workers quitting their jobs.
If you have a vacant leadership position, start recruiting internally. Reach out to external sources only if you can't find the right fit among the internal candidates. Giving performance-based incentives can also encourage your people to work and grow their skills.
7. Nurture employee health
Poor employee health can lead to increased stress, fatigue, and decreased productivity. These factors often make employees feel overwhelmed or unmotivated in their work and lead to a decrease in morale. Additionally, employees may become resentful if they feel their health is being neglected by their employer.
Want to know what it can cost you? Hold on to your seat and look at these startling numbers-
People with mental health issues like anxiety and depression are more likely to develop other physical health issues.
The cost of work stress is estimated to be as much as $187 billion.
The US economy is more than $210 billion annually in absenteeism and lost productivity.
Here's what you can do about it-
Prioritize employee health with a dedicated health-and-wellness program.
Train your managers in skill sets that support mental health.
Incorporate health-related benefits like- health insurance, gym memberships, fitness or health education classes.
Incorporate an employee wellness app in your wellness program. Such tools can keep them up and moving with new challenges every day. It can further help employees keep track of their daily water and calorie intake, calories burnt, step counts, and others.
8. Have Regular Check-Ins
Regular check-ins can improve employee morale by providing you with a consistent point of contact with the employees.
It lets you keep tabs on their progress, answer queries and address any potential issues before they intensify. Above all else, it helps you to get to know your people on a more personal level and offer the support they need.
Here are a few ideas to boost employee morale by making the most out of check-ins and 1-on-1 sessions-
Utilize 1-on-1 sessions to ask them about life outside work. Ask them how they are handling work stress and work-life balance. These little gestures of care can have a drastic impact on employee morale.
Offer a safe environment for people to share their thoughts, opinions, and feelings.
"Provide managers and employees with guidelines so that employees can discuss private issues without fear of reprisal."
-Kevin Lee, CEO of JourneyPure.
- Ask questions that focus on the employee's development needs and goals. This will help you offer the resources and support needed for their success.
9. Encourage feedback for and from employees.
Boost employee morale in the workplace by creating an environment where employees can ask for and offer constructive feedback without hesitation.
Research shows that creating a constant feedback loop can help you increase employee performance. In addition, when employees feel heard, and their opinions are valued, they are more likely to stick around, stay engaged, and have high morale.
"As a leader, you have a huge opportunity to boost employee engagement, productivity, retention, and innovation by improving how you address feedback."
-Anna Greenwald, COO, MoneyGram.
You can install a suggestion box and Grievance Redressal Committee to derive employee input. Conduct exit and stay interviews or surveys. Frequently check the pulse of the employees with surveys and weekly or monthly one-on-ones with managers.
Use these opportunities to learn what they love and dislike about their role. Ask them what resources and support they need to attain their goals and how to improve their work experience. However, these steps will only make a difference in employee morale if you act on their suggestions.
10. Breaking Down Barriers to Diversity and Inclusion
"Inclusion is what connects people to the business, and we believe it's one of the core reasons they stay."
Diversity and inclusion create an environment where employees feel accepted and respected regardless of their differences. It can help you build trust between employees and management. Creating such a welcoming and supportive workplace can positively impact your employee morale.
Here are some steps and activities to boost employee morale by making your workplace more inclusive-
Rethink your organizational policies and rewire them to be more inclusive.
Form a Diversity and Inclusion Council.
Train and educate your managers and help them understand why it matters. Hold them accountable for their action.
Educate and encourage your teams to use inclusive language at work.
11. Train your leaders
"Today, the most effective and influential managers think more like coaches and less like critics."
– Laith Dahiyat, CEO at Pingboard.
Employee morale is not something you can achieve alone. Your leaders and managers need to be aware. They need to understand the importance and impact of your initiatives.
Start with training them to be coaches instead of taskmasters or micromanagers. Train them in emotional intelligence and communication.
A survey found that 43 % of employees have left a job in the past because of a bad manager. In addition, 53 % of the employees said they plan to leave their jobs because of bad managers.
Help your leaders understand and recognize how their attitude can impact the whole team. Encourage them to work on the things that (can or ) are causing frustration and disappointment among employees or crushing their morale.
Related: 105 Famous Work Ethic Quotes To Boost Employee Morale
The Bottom Line
If you are witnessing low employee morale at your organization (in the form of higher turnover, chronic absenteeism, poor performance, or increased employee conflicts), it's high time to take action. Start with employee morale surveys and interviews to measure the employee morale rates and take action where needed.
Even if your employees are happy and engaged, take a stand before low morale creeps into your organizational performance. Keep making efforts to make your employees love working with you-it will go a long way!
After all, a happy and productive workplace is the key to success.
1. What are the characteristics of high morale?
High-morale employees are energetic, adaptable team players who take charge, love their job, and know how to balance work and life. They bring positive vibes, get creative when things get difficult, and never shy away from a challenge. They are internally motivated and customer-focused.
2. What is poor employee morale?
Poor employee morale refers to a state of dissatisfaction with the workplace. It is a negative emotional state in which employees feel disengaged and demotivated, leading to low productivity, decreased job satisfaction, increased absenteeism, and increased employee turnover.
3. What kills morale in the workplace?
Several factors can kill employee morale in the workplace. This includes lack of recognition, poor communication, unclear job expectations or goals, lack of psychological safety, micromanagement, lack of growth opportunities, and high levels of stress or workload. Unfair or unethical practices, such as favoritism or discrimination, can also take a toll on morale.
4. What is an example of low morale in the workplace?
Say an employee consistently performs above expectations, but you fail to recognize or acknowledge their effort. Or, say your organization has implemented a new policy that significantly increases employees' workload. However, you fail to offer any additional compensation or support for employees. As a result, employees start feeling frustrated and demotivated. Consequently, their productivity is reduced, and they have a negative attitude towards the organization, resulting in low employee morale.