Low workplace morale can lead to high costs for businesses, including increases in employee disengagement, turnover and absenteeism. In addition to hurting your bottom line, down-in-the-dumps morale can negatively affect other aspects of your company, from your brand to your company culture.
Unscheduled absenteeism costs companies approximately $3,600 a year for individual hourly employees and $2,650 for salaried employees. Disengaged employees, which Gallup estimates cost the U.S. between $450-550 billion per year, are also linked to lower morale and productivity. And when low morale causes employees to leave, that has its own cost. Companies have to spend six to nine months of an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement, says a study by the Society for Human Resource Management.
So what can you do to improve workplace morale in your company?
For starters, keep in mind that keeping up morale starts at the top. A study conducted among employees from more than 100 branches of a U.S. bank scientifically proved what many of us have known all along: there are happy and unhappy workplaces, and happy and unhappy employees. And who chiefly affects employee attitudes? Management.
Management matters. And here’s how managers can start to improve workplace morale in their teams, departments and companies.
1. Learn what makes your team tick.
We’ve all heard “teamwork makes the dream work.” And even though it’s a corny phrase, most of us probably believe it’s true. But how can managers make their team’s dreams realities?
You have to really understand your employees, learn what makes your team tick and understand how they think and feel. Use employee engagement surveys, hold one-on-one meetings and have annual team building events.
Another way that’s worked for REI is using social media to engage with employees. Their “Around the Campfire” community gives employees and management the chance to share thoughts and participate in meaningful discussions, whether they’re in the office or working remotely. It lets employees know their voice matters and lets management better understand their employees and what they need to do to keep team morale and productivity high.
2. Train and develop your teams.
Training doesn’t stop after the first day or week someone is hired. It’s continuous. Teams feel happier and can be more productive when they know what they need to do to work more efficiently. Spend whatever time you can helping employees develop new skills and better their current ones. This ongoing coaching and guidance will help improve performance and workplace morale.
3. Define expectations by setting clear goals.
Teams and individual employees who don’t set goals are aimless. They don’t know what’s expected of them or have anything to push themselves toward. Goal setting is an essential part of a manager’s role in helping employees succeed. Help your employees and teams set attainable but challenging goals. With clear goals, employees and teams know what’s expected of them, how they’re expected to do their job and how they’ll be evaluated on their performance.
4. Create a culture of trust, honesty and respect with open communication.
Management that leads by fear and control prohibits open dialogue, which leads to distrust, a lack of respect and lower motivation and morale. Managers need to listen to the ideas and concerns they receive from individual employees as well as their teams or departments. They have to respect what they’re told and provide regular feedback.
How can you ensure there’s open and effective communication on your team? Have an open door policy – or better yet, don’t stay cooped up in an office. Be out and about among your team. Managers have to make themselves available so employees know they can come to them, and feel comfortable doing so.
Your employees are your most important resource. They drive productivity, results, revenue and morale. You need their positive impact in each area to ensure your team’s and your entire company’s success.
Making workplace morale a top priority will develop a challenging and fulfilling work environment for both you and your team.