Poor communication may do the greatest harm to workplace morale. 1 in 3 of human resources (HR) managers interviewed in a recent survey said a breakdown in communication is at the heart of most morale problems; almost one in five (18 percent) survey respondents pointed to micromanagement as the biggest factor. Communication also was cited by 38 percent of HR managers as the most effective way to counter low employee morale.
HR managers were asked, “Which one of the following has the most negative impact on employee morale?” Their responses:
|Lack of open, honest communication||33%|
|Failure to recognize employee achievements||15%|
|Fear of job loss||10%|
|Excessive workloads for extended periods||9%|
|None of these||14%|
HR managers also were asked, “What is the best remedy for low morale?“ Their responses:
|Monetary rewards for exceptional performance||15%|
|Unexpected rewards, such as gift certificates or sporting events tickets||13%|
|Team building events or meetings||11%|
|Additional days off||6%|
|None of the above||2%|
*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.
Failure on the part of managers to include employees in the information loop will result in the engagement of staff suffering a blow. To improve communication, team members have to be kept apprised of company goals and performance, and encouraged to ask questions and offer feedback. Morale problems can often be addressed relatively easily. Improving workplace communication is one of the most effective — and one of the least costly — ways to combat the problem of a disengaged workforce.
There are 5 characteristics of — and remedies for — low-morale:
- An active grapevine. When communication is scarce, gossip and misinformation flourish. Even if you have bad news to share or don’t have all the answers, honesty is still the best policy. The more team members can rely on accurate information, the less grist they’ll have for the rumor mill.
- Lack of initiative. Unmotivated employees just go through the motions rather than taking an active seat at the table. Foster an ownership environment in which employees are challenged to take initiative and solve problems in creative ways.
- Scarce rewards. Step up efforts to recognize employees’ efforts with praise, low-cost awards and spot bonuses. Make rewards personal and give them as soon after an achievement as possible.
- Changes in attitude. If employees are unhappy, it will show. Look for red flags — increased negativity, higher rates of absenteeism, or reduced cooperation or commitment. Checking in with workers on a regular basis will help you gauge morale and address budding problems.
- Poor performance. Morale problems can quickly affect a team’s quality of work. Signs of trouble include missed deadlines, an increase in mistakes or a decline in service levels. Consider bringing in temporary professionals to ease your team’s workload.
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