4 Times You Need To Worry About Workplace Morale

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Gary had been working alongside his team at a small computer-aid design firm for seven years when rumor spread that his company was going to be bought-out. The idea of such a big transition was both exciting and intimidating for Gary and his co-workers. Nevertheless, the employees were promised they would all maintain their jobs and salaries.

However, the initial company was divided into two parts and sold to different companies.

Shortly after the acquisition occurred, employees started be laid off, and a few others had their job description drastically changed. Some even had to take a pay cut. The remaining employees felt angry and their performance began to suffer.  

Everyone was frantic. The new CEO seemed withdrawn, and the old CEO kept misleading employees and managers alike. Workplace morale was low, at best.

It wasn’t until one key manager stepped up and decided to act as liaison for her team that change occurred. Out of desperation for answers, she decided to communicate with the new CEO to express her team’s discord. The staff began to trust management again once the communication barriers were removed.

Acquisitions are only one example of when workplace morale comes into question. Any time of change is especially hard on employee morale.

Here is a look at some of the times when employees may find morale drop:

As the Company Grows

Working at a rapidly growing company can be enthralling. However, in the earliest stages of growth, employees might not understand how their roles may develop, if at all.

Don’t let eager employees be clouded by the company’s evolution; especially if their job description has changed. Clearly define expectations and help employees understand their performance as it relates to the company.

The key to boosting workplace morale is to focus on employee recognition and monitor progress. Recognize employees for their contribution. If they realize the change in their job description means you value your skills in a more relevant or advance way, engagement and workplace morale will improve.

Use employee surveys to determine satisfaction in their current roles. Once you understand what your employees want, you can better counteract low morale.

Tip: Hold regular meetings with team members with an ‘anything goes’ policy, or create a place where employees can ask questions that may be regarded as taboo. For example, offer a safe place for employees to make suggestions or ask questions through an internal forum. They can choose to post questions anonymously and expect to receive thoughtful and transparent responses.

In addition, use team building activities to boost morale and align your team. Dedicated training programs, like those offered by game on Nation, bring practiced professionals in to train and encourage your team.

When Advancements Aren’t Possible

The best way to combat low morale when advancements aren’t possible is to offer development opportunities. This shows employees they are still valued and you’re willing to invest in them, even though you can’t give them everything they’re asking for.

Encourage employees to grow in their current roles or develop their current skills. For example, have employees take a refresher safety course, or study trends in your industry. Get input on what interests them most or what they know will add value to their role, and offer free on-site courses or reimbursement for their training.

Tip: There are many websites offering little to no cost online learning. Consider subscribing to LinkedIn Learning, which offers courses in business, tech, and creative writing from industry experts.

You can also give employees the opportunity to instruct courses or create a video library of employee-lead tutorials for ongoing development. When employees are trusted to contribute to the greater success of the entire team, workplace morale improves.

During High Turnover Times

Highly turbulent times during company transitions, no matter the cause, can result in equally high employee turnover. It’s important to preemptively counteract the urgency to jump ship.

There are plenty of alternatives to a salary boost that will assure employees you want to keep them along for the long-haul. They key is to show that you value them as people and not just cogs in the wheel. You can throw an office party or treat everyone to happy hour. You don’t have to wait for special occasions to celebrate your team.

Show your employees their dedication is valuable to you, but don’t stop with party hats.

Tip: Get down in the trenches with your employees and find out what they value most. Learn about their favorite things and what eases their stress. Would they like a better variety of coffee and cocoa in the break room? Is the office environment bringing them down? Maybe you could rearrange the space and add more light and live plants.

Get to know your employees wants and needs and increase workplace morale by exceeding them.

After Layoffs

Morale will definitely be low following a surplus of layoffs. It’s essential you offer reassurance to the remaining staff to help counteract low engagement and productivity.

Make sure laid-off employees are not left high-and-dry. Offer resources to help them navigate the job market and be better prepared for the unexpected job search. This will let everyone know your company cares even if there may not have been another option.

Employees are going to be devastated to see their co-workers go, and they will have a lot of questions. Be transparent about the security of their current positions. Keep an open-door policy and create a discussion forum — clear of the watchful eye of management — where employees can discuss their concerns freely.

Tip: Let your employees guide your support measures. Don’t force them to open up and don’t shut down their fears with distraction. They may need to vent, and there will be an adjustment phase. However, if they can clearly see your investment in them and former employees, they will trust you with their future endeavors with the company and beyond.

It is always important to consider times when you might need to address low workplace morale. This is not a definitive list. Low or poor morale can happen at anytime for a variety of reasons. Consider surveying your staff today to assess their morale and keep it high.

How are you working to improve or maintain employee morale? Let us know in the comments!


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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.