With everything on your radar during the workday, it’s easy to forget about employee morale. But keeping the team engaged isn’t something that can be ignored or postponed.
Studies show that organizations with high employee morale also show a corresponding level of productivity and employee retention rates. Those same studies show that happy employees rarely file employment lawsuits.
To keep morale on your radar, be aware of some of the common management mistakes that undermine it. According to a recent OfficeTeam report, here are nine main deflators of employee morale, plus tips on avoiding them:
1. Thinking it’s all about money. Money matters when it comes to retention. But it’s not the only thing that keeps employees content (and away from the want ads). Studies show that the primary reason people quit their jobs is unhappiness with management, followed by a limited opportunity for advancement. Compensation ranked third, along with lack of recognition.
2. Not standing by your team. Managers who don’t support their workers or appear to compete with them will lose their trust. Stand up for your staff members, particularly if they’re criticized unfairly. If you’re there for them, they’ll be there for you.
3. Keeping a closed-door policy. It may not be an official policy, but employees will know if their managers don’t have the time or interest in their staffs. For example, failing to respond to employees’ e-mails or interrupting conversations to take phone calls will signal that you have more important things to do than support your team.
Executives say effective communication is the No. 1 remedy for low morale, a recent OfficeTeam survey found.
4. Oiling only the squeaky wheels. For every employee who approaches you with questions or concerns, there are several others who won’t. Regularly touch base with employees in person. You’ll be able to solicit feedback from your strong, silent types in addition to your more-vocal team members.
5. Ignoring the rumor mill. It exists in every organization, and the longer rumors are allowed to circulate, the more dangerous they become. Keep your eyes and ears open for changes in employee attitudes. Head off rumors, when possible, by keeping employees informed of organizational changes that could affect them. If a big rumor brings work to a standstill, consider a meeting or a memo to bring everyone up to speed.
6. Assuming a paycheck is enough “thank you.” Employees need positive reinforcement. Recognition is one of the most productive morale-boosting strategies—and also the simplest and most cost-effective. A single, heartfelt “thank you” delivered in person can do wonders.
7. Catching employees off guard. Employees should never be surprised by what they hear in a performance review. Give constant feedback to employees about what they’re doing right and alert them to areas they should improve.
8. Instilling a fear factor. Often, your most reliable employees will be the most overloaded and least likely to speak up. Don’t inadvertently promote a culture in which workers feel they can’t ask for help when needed.
9. Doing, not delegating. Some managers avoid delegating tasks they decide would take longer to explain to someone than simply completing themselves. By giving employees greater ownership of projects, employers allow them to perform at peak levels and build new skills.
The bottom line: Boosting morale isn’t a once-a-year “atta-boy” during the performance review. It’s a vitally important ongoing strategy that every manager should put on his or her weekly to-do list.
The power of ‘thank you’
“What effect, if any, does receiving recognition have on your work performance?”
Greatly improves 28%
Somewhat improves 39%
Has no effect 33%
Worsens performance 0%
Source: OfficeTeam survey of 550 U.S. workers.