How to Overcome Low Employee Morale

Follow these steps to get your crew invested in the success of your company

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Mike worked for a medium-sized business and went to work every day happy to have a job. But he wasn’t too enthused about his work environment. Employee morale was so-so because most longtime employees were merely going through the motions.

Greg was a friend of Mike’s from school, and they ended up working in different industries. They stayed in touch on social media and decided to get together for lunch.

Mike picked Greg up at his workplace. He felt inspired when he entered Greg’s building. There was an energy that was hard to describe. It was definitely not the same as at his company. He was warmly greeted by the receptionist and waited in the pristine lobby for Greg.

At lunch, Mike asked Greg about his job and what he liked about working there. Greg mentioned that the company has a management philosophy that every employee is important, like the links in a chain. They believe in sharing information that reinforces that message.

Why it matters

Every employee plays a role in the company’s performance. It’s important that they know their role; it gives them a sense of purpose and answers the question: “Why does it matter?”

Some people always take great pride in their work. They know it reflects on them. Some people only push themselves when others are relying on them to do their part. Sharing the big picture helps to get the most out of these people. Getting the small things right leads to bigger success.

Here are five different strategies you as a small-business owner or manager can use to foster a workplace where every employee feels valued and can contribute to the overall vision of the company:

1. Include all employees in strategy meetings
To the extent possible, involve employees in strategy meetings. When you are contemplating a change in your company, modifying one or more processes or seeking new methods to improve service, involve the people who perform the tasks before decisions are finalized. They are liable to push back. When they do, use your judgment to determine if the pushback is valid.

If it is valid, figure out a better path forward. This will prevent mistakes, save time and reduce waste. If the natural reaction is to resist change, deal with it now. You will avoid passive-aggressive behavior that will sabotage the path forward. Done right, you will earn the respect and buy-in of your workers. However, things like impending job actions (layoffs, promotions, transfers) must never be shared until it is time. When you are otherwise open, the need for discretion will be respected.

2. Stress the importance of every position
A good manager knows how every employee contributes to the performance of the company. Some employees interact with customers. Others work in the office. Drivers and technicians are your front-line service workers. All the employees play a part in the success of the company. Good leaders praise the individuals and the teams, both in public and in private, for their significant contribution. This is important. Over time, those who are not key service providers in the field may forget the significance of their role. They need to be reminded.

3. See the big picture
There is a common fallacy in the workplace that one job contributes more than others to the success of the project or company. It’s a great thing when employees realize that what they do is important. It is not so good, however, when the needs of others in the workforce are discounted. Managers should step up and explain the big picture and recognize the important role played by everyone from the receptionist in the office to the equipment operator on the job location.

4. Your business story
The most powerful story for any business is the story of why the company exists. Who founded the company? What problem did the company originally solve? How did the company evolve into its current state? This applies to businesses of all sizes. This is effective in external sales presentations and in keeping employees motivated. When that story is known and repeated, employees will realize that they are part of growing or preserving a legacy.

5. Maintain an open-door policy
When you involve employees in strategy sessions, communicate the importance of the roles of each employee and talk about where they fit in the company’s success. The staff will see you as someone who not only talks communication, but also communicates. You can further enhance that relationship by having an open-door policy. Set boundaries, but invite people to approach you with their concerns or questions. Maybe they come to you. Maybe you walk around and catch them doing things right.

A final word

When you share the big picture, every employee feels valued. They know they play a role in the success of the company. Job satisfaction increases. It costs little to do this, and it brings big returns.

Driving back to work, Mike realized that this aspect of work culture was missing from his company. He thought about his role and how it fit into the bigger picture. He felt better about his job and vowed to look for ways to help his fellow employees understand their roles in the bigger picture as well.


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