Almost all of us have been in a staff meeting where the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. They seem to be the worse kinds of meetings because the elephant in the room is how low morale has affected members of the organization.
There are many reasons for low employee morale in the workplace. Maybe employee morale is low because everyone is overworked and experiencing burnout. Or, perhaps management has been doing a poor job of leading and motivating the team. It could even be because a few employees are not getting along and the strife is causing everyone extra stress. Whatever the cause, low morale is never good and is damaging to the goals of any business or organization. And we all know that the signs of low morale will eventually be evident to everyone.
Even though having low employee morale is a known inhibitor, many leaders do not fully understand the damage it can cause. That’s why in this article, we’ll dive deeper into how low morale truly hurts your business and its employees.
How Morale Effects Employees and Businesses
Morale instills confidence and emotional satisfaction, ensuring the work environment is comfortable, sustainable, and conducive to progress. If the workspace is inhospitable, unsafe, or disorganized, employees are less likely to feel responsible for its upkeep. This can result in plummeting engagement rates and feelings of reluctance, inadequacy, or a lack of motivation.
Although morale is a group-based concept, individual motivation is equally crucial. Some employees have strong willpower and excellent work ethic. If these qualities are overlooked or exploited, the entire workspace could become dysfunctional. While it is the company’s responsibility to foster good morale, this can be achieved through various means like offering benefits, giving raises, or recognizing employee efforts.
This approach imbues employees’ roles with purpose, encouraging them to perform better and commit to the business’s goals. Research shows that businesses with higher employee engagement rates are 23% more profitable than those with lower engagement.
1. It Influences Turnover Rates
A study by Gallup found that disengaged employees, typically a result of low morale, are 73% more likely to look for a job than their engaged counterparts. This statistic highlights the strong correlation between low morale, disengagement, and the likelihood of employees leaving an organization.
A lower turnover rate is a good indication that your business has built a solid reputation for retaining employees. It’s less likely that employees will leave their jobs due to poor management. High workplace morale can contribute to lower turnover rates.
By maintaining high morale, businesses become known for retaining their best employees for longer periods, leading to an increase in job applications. This makes your business stand out. If your turnover rates are low, it means employees stay with the company for significant lengths of time, providing quality and consistency to both employees and the company—a win-win situation!
Good employees are hard to find. So, instead of trying to replace your best employees, improve the overall morale of the workplace to lower the chances of them from leaving.
2. Employees Don’t Work Better Together
Working together is easier when we feel good about ourselves and the people around us. When we don’t, getting people to work comfortably and happily together is like pulling teeth. When morale is high, employees are more likely to cooperate with one another. They are also more likely to communicate effectively. High morale fosters a positive environment that encourages openness. It also creates more trust and mutual respect.
Employees who enjoy their work and find it meaningful are typically more engaged and invested in their teams. Everyone looks out for each other and has each other’s back when problems arise. They are more inclined to contribute ideas, offer constructive feedback, and take on extra responsibilities to ensure the team’s success. This heightened sense of motivation and commitment drives improved team performance and productivity.
On the contrary, low employee morale can be detrimental to teamwork. Employees with low morale often feel disconnected and disengaged, leading to reduced collaboration and poor communication.
They may withhold valuable ideas, refrain from contributing beyond their basic tasks, and show little interest in team objectives. This lack of enthusiasm and participation can create a negative atmosphere, hampering the synergy that is vital for effective teamwork.
3. Work Quality is Effected
When an employee experiences low morale, they often lack the motivation and engagement necessary to produce their best work. Feeling undervalued, dissatisfied, or disengaged can lead to a disinterest in the tasks at hand and a reduced desire to strive for excellence. Consequently, these feelings may cause employees to rush through tasks or give minimal effort, negatively impacting the overall quality of their work.
Low morale can also cause a decrease in attentiveness and thoroughness. An employee suffering from low morale may not have the mental or emotional energy to pay attention to detail or double-check their work, leading to an increase in mistakes and oversights.
Even worse, employees may stop caring about their work quality. The result can be a product or service that does not meet its usual standards or the expectations of clients or customers.
In addition, low morale can stifle creativity and innovation. Employees who are not motivated or happy at work are less likely to think outside the box or put forward new ideas. This lack of innovation can lead to stagnation in the quality of work produced, preventing improvements and growth.
Furthermore, persistent low morale can lead to burnout, a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion. Burnout significantly effects employees’ ability to perform their job to the best of their ability. This almost always leads to a severe decline in the quality of work.
4. Employee Attendance Drops
An essential aspect of morale’s impact lies in its correlation with employee attendance. Showing up is half the battle. Attendance is not merely a matter of being physically present at the workplace. It also entails active engagement in tasks, punctuality, and a general commitment to work schedules. It stands to reason that an employee who is high in morale will exhibit better attendance records compared to one whose morale is low.
Also, workplaces that foster high morale usually create a positive and engaging work environment. Such an environment can serve as a draw for employees. Instead of dreading, they begin to look forward to coming to work each day.
Employees with high morale often have an intrinsic motivation to attend work regularly. They perceive their work as meaningful and see themselves as valuable contributors to the organization’s mission. This perception imbues them with a sense of responsibility and purpose.
This leads them to be consistent in their attendance and punctual in their reporting times. Moreover, high morale often translates to a strong affinity for the organization. When an employee actually likes the company they work for, they tend to avoid accruing unnecessary absences.
On the other hand, low morale often leads to poor attendance. Disengaged and dissatisfied employees may exhibit behaviors such as chronic tardiness, frequent short-term absences, or even long-term absenteeism.
5. Employees Are Not Better Equipped to Handle Stress
In a stable, comfortable environment, employees are more likely to devise innovative solutions. When there is confidence in the workplace, employees are more inclined to seek advice and communicate honestly. They become more capable of handling tasks independently and gaining expertise through overcoming various obstacles.
If employees are satisfied with their work conditions, they are more equipped to manage stress. Good morale can even improve professional relationships and foster supportive bonds among team members.
The impact of morale becomes more evident when looking at employees who love their jobs and are happy with their work environments. These employees have been observed to possess high levels of energy, vigor, and resilience, which subsequently boost their productivity levels. High morale can also engender a sense of camaraderie and teamwork among employees, fostering a work environment that stimulates collaborative efforts, resulting in a collective increase in productivity.
Morale is a crucial factor in building a healthy work environment. It helps establish trust and foster professional relationships. This is why improving employee morale should be near the top of every leader’s to-do list. The overall morale code in a professional space provides structure and stability for its employees, encouraging personal growth, clear communication, and respect.