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Employee Morale: Creating an Environment That Uplifts Your Team

Employee Morale: Creating an Environment That Uplifts Your Team

Have your meetings been filled with awkward silences lately? Are team members increasingly showing up late to work or missing deadlines? You may have a silent productivity killer in your workplace. Low employee morale can drag down productivity and dampen your team’s quality of work. It can also negatively affect workers’ mental and physical health. What impacts employee morale, and how can you create an atmosphere that lifts up your team members?

Team morale meaning

Team morale is the overall attitude and outlook your employees have at work. Workers with high morale feel they have adequate support in the workplace. They’re invested in their jobs and have generally positive relationships with those around them, including co-workers and managers. People with low morale at work, on the other hand, may experience frequent conflicts or feel unsupported, disengaged from their work, or socially excluded.

Why is positive morale at work important?

Employees with low morale at work are more likely to switch jobs in search of a better work environment. Those who stick it out at your organization may feel less enthusiastic about their job, which can affect their work quality.

Low employee morale is also a major driver of absenteeism, which is estimated to cost the workplace about $3,600 per hourly employee and $2,650 per salaried employee each year.

High morale, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. A 2017 Gallup study showed that employees who were engaged with their work increased profitability by 21 percent. At the same time, absenteeism dropped by 41 percent and turnover went down by 59 percent. 

What causes low morale at work?

Both employees and employers contribute to workplace morale. While you can’t control your employees’ contributions, you can use the powerful tools in your arsenal to build the type of company culture you want.

A few of the most common factors that dampen staff morale are:

  • Lack of recognition and rewards
  • Inadequate tools or resources to get the job done
  • Lack of autonomy
  • Few or no opportunities for career growth
  • Lack of a sense of community among co-workers
  • Poor leadership 
  • Lack of meaning or connection to the company mission
  • Unclear expectations about their role or function

Fortunately for employers, many of these factors are things you can control, or at least affect. 

Signs of low employee morale

Is your organization struggling to build healthy team morale? Here are a few telltale signs to look for. 

  • Absenteeism and presenteeism—When company morale is low, employees may struggle to find the motivation to show up and fully engage at work. While high morale increases productivity, poor workplace morale can pull it down.
  • Conflicts—Conflicts arise frequently with co-workers and managers. While some conflict is normal in any workplace, frequent or ongoing conflict can be a sign of staff morale problems.
  • Disorganized work environment—Employees with low morale at work may feel less motivated to care for their environment, and a messy environment can also reinforce poor morale.
  • Regular complaints—If employees complain routinely about workplace issues, especially those that seem trivial, it could be an indicator of how they feel about bigger problems with their work environment.
  • Customer or client complaints—When office morale is low, you may receive frequent customer complaints about the quality of your company’s work, the quality of customer service, or employees’ attitudes.

How to boost morale at work

Boosting employee morale isn’t as simple as telling employees to “stay positive.” Employees shouldn’t suppress difficult feelings or avoid addressing issues to appear as though morale is high—that’s called toxic positivity and it takes a toll on both workers and businesses as well. Although you can’t control the attitudes your employees have toward work, there’s still a lot you can do. Here are a few ways to boost morale at work. 

Understand the current state of employee morale

To boost employee morale, gather information about workplace attitudes and ideas about how to improve them from your employees themselves. You can do this through anonymous surveys, exit interviews, grievance reports, or monitoring productivity, retention, and engagement. Lyra Health offers assessments and tools to help you understand your team’s work morale and improve it if necessary. Once you’ve heard from your team, you’ll have a better idea how to address the problem. 

Monetary and non-monetary compensation

Employee morale can spiral if workers feel they aren’t making a fair salary for their industry and job responsibilities. Make sure your compensation package is up to par for your region and industry.

Team members also may be seeking a different type of compensation: recognition. Research by Harvard Business Review suggests that awards such as public recognition, career development opportunities, and certificates can boost intrinsic motivation, performance, and retention rates. 

Offer greater flexibility

Different industries have different limitations in the amount of autonomy they can grant employees, but most employers can find some way to give workers a greater sense of freedom. Consider flexibility in when and where employees work, how they complete tasks, the order in which they complete tasks, or what their deadlines look like.

Support employee development

No one wants a dead-end job. To improve employee morale, consider creating employee development plans to demonstrate possible paths to career advancement. This shows your employees not only how to advance, but that you care about their development. Growth plans can be individualized and tailored to match employees’ specific strengths and goals.

Foster purpose and belonging

People want to understand why their work matters. How does their role support the company? How does the company create positive outcomes? It’s also important to keep a finger on the pulse of workplace inclusion. If interpersonal conflicts or exclusionary work policies are making workers feel unsupported, those issues need to be proactively addressed.

Offer mental health benefits

Morale can affect employee mental health, and vice versa. Workers with mental health conditions are more likely to take sick days and lose time to unproductive tasks. Offering mental health benefits and encouraging employees to use them can support employee mental health, boost satisfaction, and boost morale.

Train managers

Managers can directly impact how employees feel about their jobs, so management training programs can be a staff morale booster. When managers learn about communication, psychological safety, and recognition, their teams’ job satisfaction, morale, and loyalty typically improve

Drive better outcomes by improving employee morale

What if you could empower your employees to do their best work while boosting productivity and employee retention? These benefits could be just one workplace morale booster away.

Building morale is a strategy that pays dividends in the long run. Lyra offers assessments and tools to help you learn how to boost work morale and your bottom line.

Boost employee morale at your workplace.

Lyra offers assessments and tools to create a culture of wellness.

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About the reviewer
Sarah Grausz

Sarah is an organizational development program specialist on the workforce transformation team at Lyra Health. Sarah has a master's degree in organization development from American University and specializes in coaching and training leaders to build equitable, redeeming workplaces. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, loves spending time with her large extended family and baking with her toddler.

Clinically reviewed by
Sarah Grausz
By The Lyra Team
14 of March 2023 - 5 min read
Mental health at work
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