Damaging Employee Morale: Three Mistakes Not to Make

With employee morale down for a reported three-fourths of U.S. workers, many employees are planning to switch jobs before the end of 2011. There are several factors to …

With employee morale down for a reported three-fourths of U.S. workers, many employees are planning to switch jobs before the end of 2011. There are several factors to creating a happy employee and also some key things to avoid. Learn more about this in the full article from Refresh Leadership.

Recent studies have shown that more employees plan to job hop this year due to discontent and distrust in their current jobs. And it comes as no surprise that employee morale is down with three-fourths of U.S. workers reporting they’re stressed out about their jobs, according to a recent survey by Harris Interactive.

Employee morale is directly linked to productivity, company culture, customer satisfaction, turnover, and the bottom line. And in order to keep top talent, businesses will have to start making changes to improve employee engagement and satisfaction in the workplace.

While many factors like pay, workload, and benefits contribute to job satisfaction, managers and leaders often play one of the biggest roles in boosting or damaging employee morale. As you look for ways to improve your team’s morale, make sure you’re not damaging employee engagement with these three common mistakes.

By Fostering an Environment of Anonymity
Companies that stick to all work and no play could be fostering an environment where anonymity – when an employee feels that no one sees or cares about them at work – thrives. And that can make for miserable employees.

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People want – and need – to be treated like people, all the time. That means employees need to genuinely know they’re heard, understood, and accepted at work. According to Patrick Lencioni, author of The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, solving the problem of anonymity is key to fostering fulfilled, valuable, passionate, and engaged employees. “People who see themselves as invisible, generic, or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing,” Lencioni says.

To help solve the problem of anonymity in your office, make sure you’re personally investing time into building relationships with your employees. When people feel acknowledged, they’re more likely to be loyal, motivated, and productive. So, take time out of your day to privately and publicly acknowledge your team members’ accomplishments and their dedication to the work they do. Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Stop to ask your employees about their weekend when you see them on your morning coffee break or in the hallways. And find ways to add play to the work day to create an environment of interaction and fun that helps boost employee morale.

By Failing to Convey Job Purpose

Studies show that money can’t buy happiness. Having a sense of purpose on the other hand, can have an impact on how happy we feel. Employees who understand their purpose at work and why it’s meaningful are often more engaged, motivated, and happy.

Take time to communicate to each member of your team the importance of the job they do and how that job relates to company goals and values. Even mundane tasks have important objectives, but it can be easy to lose sight of those objectives when you’re handling tedious tasks on a daily basis. So, find ways to help your employees see the big picture and how their work contributes to it. They need to understand how they’re making a difference in your company and in the lives of your customers, their co-workers, and in your life too. By continually acknowledging your team members’ relevance and contributions at work, you’ll be making a difference in their lives and in their job satisfaction, which in turn will make a difference in yours.

Learn more about how to communicate to your employees the impact they have at work.

By Missing Autonomy at Work
A recent report by the Society for Human Resource Management found that autonomy – or the freedom to make choices in the workplace – had significant correlations with work satisfaction, commitment, retention, and low burnout. Other studies have found that those who feel they have the ability to make decisions and be accountable for them at work are happier and more productive.

Find ways to give your employees more responsibility in decision making. If you have a tendency to micromanage, try to delegate tasks and set expectations and deadlines, but allow employees to determine how they’ll complete the assigned project. If workload and your organization allows, consider letting employees set their own schedules or allow them to work from home from time to time. Giving your employees the ability to make some choices in the workplace will demonstrate your trust in them while allowing them to grow in their roles.

Improving morale doesn’t require drastic changes overnight. Beyond working to acknowledge employee achievements, establishing an understanding of job purpose, and providing employees with more autonomy at work, try reviewing some best practices of well-known companies like SAS, Google, Zappos.com, and other Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For to see how they work to keep morale up. You don’t have to be a billion dollar – or more – company to implement easy ideas for adding a little fun to your company culture to make your office a great place to work.

This article was republished with permission from Refresh Leadership.


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