When Work Isn’t Working: Maximising Morale to Boost Business

And there’s more bad news… a failure to realise or acknowledge this situation can tip that balance just as easily as not actually taking action to prevent it.  Thankfully though, it’s more than possible to take responsibility for the well-being of your workforce and ensure their morale will carry your business productively into its short-term future and long-term success.

Who’s Safe?

No business which relies on a team in order to remain competitive and productive is safe from the dangers of low morale – even big industries such as education and health aren’t immune to morale problems.  When investigating morale within the health sector in 2013, Nicole Fink found that “improving and maintaining high morale is a key factor to consider in the pursuit of organizational success” (The High Cost of Low Morale) – a warning for everyone whose business success relies on their workforce.

What does low morale look like?

Many business and industry studies acknowledge that morale and productivity are linked.  Of course, although morale can be considered as a whole group phenomenon, it’s also evident at individual levels, making it easy to spot low morale within your employees through:

  • Lateness
  • Absenteeism
  • Failure to meet deadlines; unwillingness to undertake new projects
  • Failure to apply to tasks
  • Reluctance to engage purposefully in meetings, including professional development and appraisal meetings

By contrast, high morale reveals itself in enthusiastic willingness to take on-board your overall aims, business ideals and projects.  Properly channelled, such motivation can lead to significant growth and business success.

What’s my workforce really thinking?

If you need to ask the question, then the chances are that morale’s already pretty low.  You’d spot a motivated team and high morale through your daily interactions with staff and the steady progress of your business.  Unless there are extenuating factors, like a major competitor opening up next door to you, any stagnation or drop in the productivity or growth of your business should highlight a warning about your staff’s morale.

Although there are some new methods for monitoring staff morale, including anonymous techniques techniques such as apps to measure your team’s mood (as reported in LifeHacker), this virtual equivalent of the staff room “suggestion  box” is no substitute for face-to-face meetings with teams as groups and individuals.

How do I inspire better morale?

There are several key ways to inspire better morale for your business, both at individual and team levels:

1)     Embrace the enthusiasts:

Make the most of your employees / managers who have the personality and professional skills to motivate and energise others.  Those with a great work ethic and a readiness to take responsibility for overseeing and inspiring others, and also for pitching in when it comes to getting tasks completed, are worth their weight in productivity gold, so make sure that:

  • These employees have a real clarity of purpose in their day to day work as well as your business aims.
  • You find out what these key staff require to do their jobs well and prioritise facilitating this for them.  Look after them well!
  • Deploy these staff carefully.  There’s no point in having them all on the same team; every team needs a member like this to engender a positive team approach to work. 

2)     Think people, not production line:

  • Foster a done with, not done to relationship with your staff.  Share with them changes of policy, working practice or environment and get their feedback on what works well (or not) and why (or not).  Encouraging open dialogue with your staff about the issues which most affect their working practice is a very effective way of showing that you value their input to your business.
  • Recognise and acknowledge special events and achievements in your employees’ lives: Friday cakes, birthday gifts, cards for special occasions – it’s all about showing your appreciation and acknowledging the human side of your relationship with them, but without patronising them.
  • Don’t only engage with your staff through their line management; show that you recognise their individual professional identity, as well as their team one.
  • Consider working towards accreditation such as the UK’s highly regarded Investors In People award.  This not only demonstrates to your staff that you have their interests at heart, but also to your potential clients and customers that you are a reputable company to do business with.
  • Invest in them, anything from meeting training needs to providing environmental comforts and perks: ask what they need!
  • Productive breaks: don’t allow your staff to burn out at their workstations. If your business set-up is conducive, introduce statutory break times where you can meet with your team informally over coffee.

3)     The team that plays together …! 

Let loose with some relaxed approaches to building morale with and within your work teams, by organising:

  • Days out. It doesn’t have to be a good old factory beano to the seaside circa 1960 or same-old Christmas events – there are many contemporary ways to treat your staff.  Corporate hospitality events hold something for everyone and present chances for everyone to blow off steam, mingle and create new working relationships as well as share ideas.
  • Music in the workplace, if appropriate. Not only can music improve morale, it also has its own role in increasing productivity.
  • Team building events, such as those offered by well-respected Kent based Team Tactics.  Sporting and group problem-solving challenges particularly help to bring unity to your team, whilst giving everyone the chance to be involved in something other than their day-to-day work can enhance their continued motivation and well-being.

Overall, by ensuring your staff feel valued, in their work and their opinions, you will build their confidence and willingness not only to be involved with, but also to engage with, the overall growth of your business: maximum morale for them brings endless potential for your business!