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The Four Main Causes of Low Morale in your Employees

The one key ingredient in all successful organisations is motivation. The enthusiasm of the individual to commit to, and deliver, the best possible outcome has a direct effect on business performance.

Are You Setting the Right Tone?

Organisational culture affects employee morale. It is rare that unmotivated staff last long in a dynamic environment. Equally a lack of excitement can eventually drag down even the most ebuillient of characters.

Here are the four main reasons for poor morale in larger organisations:

  1. Leaders don't set the right example. Some business leaders are narcissists, demeaning and ruthless. Highly paid, often with share options, they don't need ongoing motivation, but they do need to engender it! Leaders need to be on the same side as their employees
  2. There is little or no accountability. Employees need to know that mistakes should be considered learning experiences, but every organisation needs to act when faced with repeat offenders.
  3. There are no career opportunities. If there is no succession planning or evidence of reward of high-performers, then staff will not see the benefit in working hard and achieving goals set for them.
  4. There is too much internal competition. Companies are built around serving their clients. Infighting and back-stabbing always undermines the the ability to provide the best service. If a client ever gets wind of instabiility, then it can often lead to loss of business.

Don't Believe the Excuses

Every business claims that they are a 'special case' and will always come up with any number of reasons for employee problems, yet research has found that causes of low morale are consistent. Putting an end to low employee morale issue is not easy, but here are some recommendations:

  • Begin with proactive talent acquisition. Few firms hire proactively, waiting until the need is there. This is often too late and means that the search doesn't take into account employees that fit with the organizational culture - they just look for a personality match.
  • Hire with skills in mind. Organisations hire for personality and behaviour first and skills second. A great candidate might have a wonderful temperament but lack the core skills to get the job done. Make sure whoever you're employing is up to the job before you make a costly mistake.
  • Seek best practice from the best practitioners. In both education and work, the biggest mistake with skills is to focus on “fixing those that can't” rather than “improving those that can.” Identify your best performers and encourage others to learn from them.
  • Hire passion. Seek talent that truly enjoys work. Employees can love work and, if they do, morale is always strong in and around them.
  • Focus on customers. Energy is best spent on clients, partners and customers. Happy customers mean longer-term rewards, enjoyable working relationships and motivated teams.
  • Commit to feedback. Informal and formal feedback is essential in any successful organisation. A positive word, an encouraging email, or a thoughtful text message all make a huge difference. Even if feedback is negative, it's still critical as members of staff need to know if they are not performing to give them the opportunity to put it right.
  • Train to improve. It is also true that a lack of productivity in staff members can be best solved through training. Employees are assets that need nurturing and part of that has to be through training. Productivity and morale are boosted in the short, medium and long-term.

Time to Change?

The best time to change is now if you want to see your organisation turn a corner. Your biggest aim must be to engender a desire to change. Identify weaknesses in the current management and map out a route to greater productivity. Morale is not just about a 'feel good' factor - it is proven to lower attrition, improve productivity, retain the best staff, increase profitability and most importantly—reduce stress.

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