A winning company culture is one where managers and team members work side-by-side in unison and harmony. They understand their roles and work in sync to accomplish their goals and the goals of the company. Ideally, this would be happening with no issues. But there is no such thing as a perfect workplace. Sometimes, there are things that disrupt that dream. One of them is low employee morale.
Low employee morale refers to the overall discontent or lack of enthusiasm exhibited by employees in a workplace environment. It is characterized by negative emotions, attitudes, and behaviors among team members that can significantly impact the company and its goals. Is your team satisfied with their working conditions? Are your employees happy with their jobs?
If not, you need to get to the root of the morale within your organization. Recognizing these early warning signals is essential to proactively address the root causes and implement strategies to improve team dynamics, job satisfaction, and overall employee well-being. Here are some signs of low employee morale to look out for and steps to address them.
1. Declining Productivity
New, less experienced team members will naturally need more time to adapt to their roles than employees with years of experience.
However, a red flag of low employee morale could be when several new team members aren’t gaining the skills they need to excel on the job. This could be an alert that senior team members are either unable or unwilling to mentor them.
Declining productivity can also be a problem for veteran team members. Those who feel unmotivated in their jobs may not produce what they used to. Or, they may be simply overwhelmed with too much on their plate.
It’s important to get to the root of the problem. Is anyone on your team lacking recognition or motivation? Is anyone so bogged down with an unmanageable workload? Hopefully, these changes will not only prevent productivity from dropping, but increase productivity with employees above previous levels.
2. High Turnover
Turnover can be costly in terms of time and money. You might think turnover is a big pain because it costs time and money to find replacement hires, and that’s true.
But turnover is more than that – it’s a symptom of poor morale. Turnover can be a big symptom of poor morale. Once your group has arrived at a point of high turnover, you may very well have a problem that is begging you to investigate its true cause.
And while it’s true that some positions will naturally have a higher turnover than others, it’s important to make sure that low morale isn’t the cause. Pay attention to the signs that an employee is about to quit and find the causes.
So, what are some common causes of turnover? Perhaps new people join the team and realize there’s a negative culture, poor management, or that the job was nothing like it was described. Or, maybe the health insurance is terrible or the bonuses are impossible to obtain. Maybe there’s a group of people that make it an unwelcoming environment for new hires. Do some digging, and you’ll find that any of these things can cause people to start looking for the exits.
3. Increased Absenteeism
Any positive workplace will encourage employees to take their sick days when they’re ill and to take regularly scheduled vacation days. However, a sudden surge in unexplained absences can be a cause for concern.
Employee absenteeism and low employee morale are often connected in the workplace. When employees are unhappy or dissatisfied with their job or workplace, they may be more likely to miss work or arrive late, leading to higher rates of absenteeism.
Ironically, frequent absenteeism can also cause low employee morale. When employees are frequently absent, it can put additional stress and workload on their colleagues. At this point, they look to management to help them with this issue. If nothing is done, it can lead to resentment and a negative work environment. This, in turn, can contribute to low morale and a lack of motivation among remaining employees.
Could it be that your team is simply sick of their jobs? Or is there something else going on? Stay tuned to this sign that something in the work environment might need to change.
4. Low Employee Engagement
How can you be more aware of disengagement? There’s a clear difference between those who are and aren’t engaged with their work.
Team members who are engaged will want to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. They may seek opportunities to “go above and beyond” whether it’s in the way they work with clients or with colleagues.
Disengaged team members may lack enthusiasm for their work. They may openly treat customers with apathy, doing the bare minimum. Disengaged team members may even be reluctant to assist their teammates when help is needed. Although there are many reasons for low employee engagement, low morale is one that should be taken seriously.
Disengagement is sometimes temporary. Factors outside of work can cause an employee to be temporarily disengaged. Stressors such as an illness, a sick family member, or other life events can put stress on a person’s life. Employers that offer resources for employees in these situations build loyalty and will ultimately prevent disengagement.
5. Negative Attitudes
No manager wants to deal with negative attitudes amongst their team. These could be especially troublesome if team members are a loud, vocal majority. If you have a group of employees complaining or grumbling amongst themselves about policies or procedures, this can be concerning. Meeting with employees regularly to hear what their concerns are is a proactive way to prevent this red flag of low employee morale.
Negative attitudes can result if there’s a perception that rules are not being evenly enforced or that some people have an easier workload than others. If some employees are maintaining a cozy, personal relationship with management, it can create an appearance of bias. So, evaluate the situation accordingly and judge if this might be the cause of a negative attitude shift amongst your team.
6. Increase in Internal Conflicts
This can be a difficult problem to manage. When employees aren’t getting along with each other or management, it can cause a decline in productivity, and it can make bystanders uncomfortable. New hires can pick up on the feeling of tension that people aren’t getting along. Altogether, internal conflicts can be damaging. They can create a very uncomfortable working environment.
It’s important to be conscious of these conflicts, as well as what may have caused them. Make a plan and take action on it. Can you help the involved team members with the mediation of their dispute? Would separating the team members be a better course of action? Is either party adding fuel to the fire? Try to identify ways to diffuse the conflict. The ultimate goal should be a positive resolution of the conflict.
7. Poor Work Quality
When morale is low, even good employees stop caring about their work. When this happens, the quality of their work tends to decline as well. This will always hurt a business’s goals. Here are some examples of poor-quality work due to low morale:
- Missed deadlines or incomplete tasks– When morale is low employees may struggle to meet deadlines or fail to complete tasks. This is due to not prioritizing their work.
- Lack of attention to detail– An employee may make mistakes or overlook important details in their work. Be aware that this could potentially harm the reputation of the company.
- Poor communication– Employees may choose to communicate less effectively with management, colleagues, or clients.
- Inconsistent work- Employees may toggle between good days and bad days frequently. This may be due to the environment on any given day. For example, they may do well on days working with one coworker they get along with but not with another coworker they do not get along with.
8. Low Customer Satisfaction
When there is low morale within the company, your customers will eventually be affected. At first, it may be possible to prevent your customers from noticing the dissatisfaction amongst the employees. However, the truth will eventually be revealed.
Since low morale often leads to poor results, your new customers will notice the lack of quality your business provides. Also, regular customers will notice that you frequently have new employees and the employees they are used to working with are no longer with the company.
Solving low employee morale is a customer satisfaction strategy. If you cannot figure out why your customers are complaining or why your service scores are dropping, evaluate the morale within your company. You will most likely find an area where morale has dropped.
Low employee morale is a common problem, but it can often be prevented. There are many signs of this problem. Recognizing low morale is critical to solving the problem and taking steps to remedy it.
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