How To Address & Turn Around Low Morale
The work environment can have a huge impact on how successful a company is and how well it develops. A workplace with low or poor morale may experience high turnover, absenteeism, and disengaged employees. All of these can result in lost productivity and can exacerbate existing problems. This makes it more difficult to address the morale issues and challenges ahead.
There’s no denying that it’s been a challenging few years. The pandemic affected work and employment in many ways. From work insecurity to the rise in remote work, many employees, parents, and students are feeling the effects of burnout. If you or any of the members of your team are experiencing these conditions, it’s important to know that you’re not alone.
And because you’re not alone, you have tools and information at your disposal for navigating morale issues and giving your team the support and resources they need to feel like you’re on their side.
Kotn Supply is here to help. We’re the team you can turn to for sustainable product designs and products that can support you in every stage of company growth and development. We’re sharing all you need to know about addressing and turning around low morale in the workplace, so your company can truly thrive.
Why Does Low Morale Develop?
Before you can address signs of low morale, it’s essential to get to the root cause and investigate why there is a morale issue in your office in the first place. While there are many potential reasons for such a condition to develop, and they often overlap, there are a few common ones often found in company cultures and environments, including the following:
Frustration and low morale often develop when employees feel like their time is being wasted or they’re being sent in unnecessary directions. This typically occurs as the result of poor communication, either between management and an employee or the managers themselves.
When a team member's responsibilities and expectations are not clear, it can be difficult for them to do their job properly. This may result in poor reviews or feedback for a problem out of their control.
There are several ways in which communication in the office can fall apart, from providing inadequate directions to conflicting feedback, but each type of communication breakdown can contribute to a culture with low morale.
Lack of Trust
You also want to look at the interpersonal relationships within the office, both within the hierarchy and between colleagues. Working in a shared space requires a level of trust in each other’s work and capability, as well as support from one another on projects and assignments, no matter what kind of work the company may do.
When team members feel like they can’t trust each other due to a company culture of gossip or competition or because they aren’t getting the support they need from management, it can contribute to low morale.
Your team should be working as a team. A team must be able to ask for help and support as needed and rely on each other for information and inspiration. When those needs can’t be met, it can lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness that can contribute to office-wide low morale.
The term job burnout is used a lot today, but it’s an actual condition that can affect our physical and mental health. While there is no official medical diagnosis for burnout, a feeling of being overworked with no time to recover can greatly affect the quality of our work and our efficiency within the work environment.
When employees feel the burden of an overwhelming work schedule each and every day, and they don’t have the time they need to rest between projects, you’ll likely see a dip in the speed of completion of projects and assignments, as well as the quality.
Burnout can also significantly affect our moods. It can be intertwined with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression and can make it difficult for employees to feel inspired or engaged. A sense of overwhelm and overwork are often at the root of low employee morale.
Lack of Upward Mobility
The lack of upward mobility is similar to the feeling of being stuck.
Suppose your company has limited management or higher-up positions. In that case, it’s important that team members understand that moving up in the company can be difficult so as not to give false hope for upward mobility.
If they’re searching for jobs that allow them to grow and expand, you want to be clear about the possibilities within your organization during the initial interview process. A feeling of being stuck or having potential job opportunities dangled like a carrot just out of reach can disincentivize workers to try hard. These feelings can affect the overall morale of the organization.
Oftentimes, the reason many employees feel burned out or overwhelmed with no chance of change is that the company has set unrealistic or impossible goals. Now, goals are almost always useful in the workplace.
Goals allow both the company and the individuals within it to grow and learn, but you want to make sure that those goals, even if challenging, are achievable. If team members feel like there’s just no way to meet the goals and expectations put forth, they may not even bother to try.
How To Boost Employee Morale
Many of the causes of low office morale intersect and build on one another; there is often more than one reason that the culture of the workplace may be a little low. That said, when you start to get to the root cause of at least one or some of the reasons for that drop in morale, you can begin to make changes that will help to turn it around. And while low morale can compound in an office, so can high morale.
Here are a few steps you can take to boost employee well-being and employee satisfaction and to help create an environment where everyone feels heard and supported.
Open Lines of Communication
Communication is one of the most critical tools in your arsenal while running a business. Poor communication between team members can significantly affect team morale, but so can good communication. That’s why you’ll want to do a little digging to see where some of the lines of communication are breaking down.
In order to do this, consider meeting one-on-one with team members who seem like they might be struggling and address the issues you’re noticing. If communication seems to be breaking down over email, consider a short daily call instead. If the problem appears to be confusion between higher-ups, create a guideline of expectations and best practices to put a halt to the spread of conflicting information.
When it comes to communication, you also want to try to be more open. Make it clear that you would prefer questions, requests for extensions, and clarification as needed, rather than later down the line. Show that you’re there to support your team and that you are happy to talk whenever the need arises.
Show Praise and Appreciation With Perks and Incentives
It can be tough for team members to keep up their pace and hard work without feeling like that work is being appreciated, at least to a certain extent. It’s vital to share employee recognition for time spent with the company and a job well done. Otherwise, team members are left in the dark, wondering if they’re doing the job well.
There are many benefits to sharing praise and giving good employee feedback, including a boost in morale. For many employees, just the feeling of being seen and recognized for their contributions is enough to inspire and excite. You can do this with company swag, thank-you notes, and even shout-outs in meetings.
Set Reasonable Goals and Expectations for Staff Members
Take a hard look at the goals and expectations that have been put forward for the company. You don’t even have to change those goals, but you may want to reconsider the timeline. When goals are too big, they can overwhelm and discourage employees from even trying to meet them.
Instead, set your large goals for the company and then break those down into smaller sections and then even smaller sections. Each piece helps to contribute to the overall goal, but it also gives employees a sense of satisfaction and growth when they accomplish one part of the bigger puzzle.
Build Team Trust
If you notice an issue of trust between the members of your team, get to the bottom of it right away. That’s where team building and trust building can come in handy.
Simple practices can help your team members begin to open up to each other and to learn and grow with the support of another rather than in competition. This will help to alleviate bullying or clique behavior. It will give each member of the team a feeling of support and encouragement from others.
Open Opportunities for Growth and Development
If there are only a few positions at the top of the organization, there’s not much that you can do about that. Still, there are ways that you can provide opportunities for growth and development within the company so that employees feel like they have something to work toward rather than feeling stuck or trapped in their current position.
Some of the best ways to do this are to offer raises for team members who excel in certain positions over time, as well as training and certification opportunities. If you’re willing to create new positions in the long term or to hand over extra responsibilities to team members who show a willingness to work hard, let your employees know.
Growth and development don’t necessarily have to look like a promotion to a new position within an organization. It can look like new responsibilities and challenges in the position they already like.
If you are giving team members more to work on, ensure you’re properly compensating them. Any excess work is getting shared equally or handed over to another member of the team with more time. You don’t want to make your employees think that you’re taking advantage of their ambition but rather give them the tools they can use to grow and develop along their professional path.
Step Back and Let Them Work
One of the most common reasons a workplace will have low morale is because of micromanaging. When leaders check into every project and step of new assignments, it makes employees feel like nobody trusts them. That makes it difficult for them to ask questions or put their full effort into an assignment since they know their work will be micromanaged at every step.
One of the best ways to boost morale in the workplace is simply to step back. Let your team members do what they do best, whether that’s creating new content or reaching out to new clients.
Open the lines of communication so they know they can reach out to you if the need arises, but otherwise, allow them to do their jobs without excessive oversight. That might mean fewer meetings and less frequent check-ins. Speak to your employees to see what they need to get the job done right.
Create Work-Life Balance
The best way to combat burnout for your team is to help create a work-life balance. That all starts in the office (or home office). Set specific times for when employees are expected to be available, and let them know that they don’t need to respond to emails or do work after certain times.
Adjust your goals and expectations to ensure that no one feels overly burdened with work, and consider bringing in an extra team member if the load is high. A healthy work-life balance, where employees can spend time with family and friends, is key to boosting morale.
Build Staff Morale and Employee Engagement
Low morale happens for many reasons, from breakdowns in communication to high workloads to micromanaging from the top. The good news is that there are many different methods and ways to address common causes of low morale and get your team the support they need and deserve.
You can do this by scheduling team-building activities, giving your employees room to do their jobs, and even sharing words of appreciation and recognition for a job done well.
The truth is that low morale can lead to more low morale. But when steps are taken to boost the morale and culture of the workplace, it can also lead to more. That may look like more clients, more profitability, or even just more good days with the team. Now that’s more like it.
Kotn Supply is here for all your business growth needs. We believe in sustainability — at every level. And we’re sharing all you need to know about protecting your team and growing your company.