Staff morale is an insidious crisis. As we’ve pointed out before, up to half of your staff are thinking about leaving. Keeping those employees in your business, and happy to be there, needs to be top priority.
Morale is more than smiling faces and chipper attitudes, though. It’s how your staff approach their work, how they treat each other, and how they see their own place in your company.
But, what you’re doing to hurt morale won’t always be obvious. There are nine ways you could be destroying staff morale without even knowing you’re doing it.
Not giving staff a voice
Workers are only human, and humans need to be heard. Their point of view needs to be considered, and their opinions need to be given weight to keep staff morale high.
If employees think their opinions on their job aren’t wanted, they’ll start to feel undervalued and ignored. Feeling that their point of view doesn’t matter to senior colleagues, morale will quickly spiral. Everyone needs to receive feedback. And leaders must be seen to seek it out.
Not recognising employees
Recognition is the one thing you could start doing today that would improve staff morale. You don’t have to wait for the budget or approval to roll out an employee engagement platform to get started. Even though they do make recognition a much easier task to manage.
Recognition, filtered through your company’s values, shows employees the value and worth of their daily work.
Not talking about the future
When you’re taking a train, you check where it’s going before you hop on. You don’t just hope the train is going somewhere nice, or blindly assume it’s going to the right place.
Staff without any idea where they’re going are like lost passengers who think they’ve got the wrong train. Looking out the windows for landmarks. Asking other passengers where they’re going. And, ultimately, thinking it’s best they hop off the train now before it’s too late to turn back.
Give employees a firm idea of where their company is going. It lets them get invested in the journey, and smooths out the fear that they’re not heading somewhere worthwhile.
Undermining your company values
So, you’re an energetic, agile company on a mission to change the face of central heating repair forever. You believe in integrity, quality and unmatched customer service. But, does your work practice live up to that? Do your leaders? And, crucially, are you both held to account?
If your values aren’t seen to be carried out, they won’t be seen as important to how you do business. It also presents your company’s leadership as two-faced; wanting the benefits of appearing to be values-led without the inconvenience of carrying those values out.
That creates a dysphoria in how your staff see your brand. Employees can’t embrace their work as driven by values if they don’t get to see those values in action.
Letting excellence go unrewarded
Outstanding behaviour doesn’t just deserve to be rewarded, it needs to be rewarded. Don’t miss the opportunity to mark special moments in an employee’s time with your company. We’ve got a whole blog post over here detailing when you need to be breaking out your rewards for staff.
Failing to find purpose
What does your company do? Beyond just revenue, profit and loss. What’s the outcome of your company’s efforts, what’s different in the world when you meet your objectives?
Pouring emotions into work, and taking personal satisfaction from it, means having something to point to when it’s all done. Something more than a graph being bigger than a graph you made earlier.
Purpose gets employees invested in what your company is, and what it does. It creates people loyal not just to their paycheques, but the differences your company makes to the world around them. Long term, that builds real engagement with your business.
Assuming quiet employees are happy
Squeaky wheels get the grease, no news is good news, and so on. As a blanket rule for work, it’s nonsense. Dissatisfaction festers in the shadows, and employees at risk of checking out and looking for another position are likely to go quiet on you.
Unhappy and silent staff have stopped looking at leadership as a way to fix issues. Restoring that relationship means getting them talking again and asking about what’s making them unhappy.
Enforcing inflexible work
Flexibility is one of the most-demanded perks across the country. And for good reason. Time outside work is at a tremendous premium, and the demands of work aren’t easing up either.
To meet the demands of professional life, many employees chip in with their personal time. No shocks for anyone there. However, it’s unreasonable for a company to demand staff give more than their contracted hours every week, but still feel entitled to tell them where all of those hours get spent.
There has to be give and take. Without flexibility, staff will grow frazzled trying to juggle ever-increasing professional and personal stresses. Ultimately, that means looking elsewhere for a more flexible working arrangement.
Stifling job scope
Employees often end up feeling like they’re in a box. In trying to streamline roles and make working processes efficient, what staff actually do can become extremely constrained.
Work becomes a production line of tasks, designed to run at max capacity for eight hours a day. It doesn’t leave much room for creativity or expression. Or any space to gather and express new skills. When staff feel trapped their relationship with their work turns hostile. In turn, that creates a huge drag on morale.
Recognising these problems, and acting to reassess your behaviour as a leader, is how you can turn the tide. Otherwise, poor staff morale only leads to problems with staff retention, productivity and engagement.