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HR, Thought Leaders

How Business Owners Can Fix Low Employee Morale

June 24, 2019

While dealing with low employee morale can be challenging, there are actions you can take to improve it. 

You love your work. It gives you that ultimate satisfaction you’ve always longed for. 

But your employees don’t feel the same. 

Your people are reluctant to come to work and others are looking for different jobs. Your boss is asking what the problem is. 

How do you fix this low employee morale?

I’m going to equip you with the most powerful tools to keep your team invested in its work. But first, let’s look at the most common reasons for low morale.

How to Understand and Fix Low Employee Morale

Employees can suffer from low morale due to a variety of reasons in their daily work life. It is important to understand why employees aren’t enjoying their job and what you can do to improve their experience

Problem: Lack of Growth

When people stop growing professionally, they plateau and get bored quickly

The best way to jumpstart employee morale is by investing in your people and offering them professional development opportunities. 

These opportunities could mean picking a new skill or offering training to expand existing skillsets.

Need an example?

Here are 5 of the most in-demand hard skills of 2019, according to LinkedIn:

  • Cloud Computing
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Analytical Reasoning
  • People Management
  • UX Design

Using these skills, your people can grow as employees and your company can improve with more knowledgeable teams. 

Solution: Invest in Growth

Value your people and invest in their professional growth. When they see you care about them, they’ll want to reciprocate and stay long term.

Introduce a personal development fund for top performers. Your employees will get to choose how they want to grow and what skills they want to train.

For example, you can have employees attend a local business workshop, give them a mentor in the company, read a useful book, or sign up for an online course.  

"By offering employees opportunities to improve their business skills, you are adding an asset to your company and demonstrating a level of interest in their careers," said Aleksandra Włodarczyk, an HR specialist and recruiter at ResumeLab.

By giving your employees opportunities to grow their professional skills, you are offering them a chance to increase their value as associates in your business. 

Problem: Lack of Clarity

When employees don’t know what management expects of them, morale can plummet.

A surprising 50% of employees aren’t aware of managerial expectations

By giving clarity to your employees, they know what tasks they should be doing and how it is affecting the company. 

Set clear-cut expectations and agree on common goals to create an environment where people can voice their opinions and see how their work increases the success of the business. 

Solution: Align on Goals

Create a document outlining your expectations so your employees are not confused about what they are supposed to achieve and do in their time at your business. 

Here’s how to make sure employees know what you expect:

Introduce OKRs (Objective-Key Result-Tasks), a management system developed by Andy Grove at Intel.

With OKRs, each person defines their own quarterly goals. Those goals are ultimately tied to team and organizational objectives.

Everyone is then on the same page and knows what they should be striving to accomplish each quarter. 

Problem: Lack of Recognition

Employee recognition is an essential driver of employee experience.

Research says people crave dopamine. We get it either via drugs or workplace-friendly avenues like praise.

The problem?

The dopamine bump from recognition wears off fast. You should take time to praise employees for achievements in the workplace to increase dopamine levels and reward employees for their work. 

Solution: Give Praise

The problem with giving recognition and feedback to employees is that you can spend a ton of time and effort giving it and not get any tangible results.

The good news? It’s about to change. 

First, how often should you praise employees?

Once a week, at least. 

But how do you praise employees so consistently?

The easiest thing to do is set up a #kudos channel in Slack. 

Kudos Slack Channel

The kudos channel is an informal way to let everyone in the company give each other compliments and recognize the level of work they have achieved. It doesn’t take too much time and is a nice way to show that each employee is valued. 

If you’re looking for a more advanced tool, try This tool allows you to compliment people and give them points based on the task completed. Screenshot

Later, people can redeem these points that you have given them for something of value (e.g., a lunch with the CEO or an Amazon gift card). 

While the monetary value of such rewards is tiny, the recognition is invaluable. 

Problem: Leadership Issues

You might be giving your people a ton of autonomy or maybe you’re hands-on and have ultimate control over all tasks and projects.

According to Andy Grove’s book, management isn’t one size fits all.

Inexperienced employees need guidance. When there's no help, their morale falls because they feel incompetent.

Still, there is a balance between autonomy and control as too much control makes your employees feel as though you don’t trust them to make decisions or work alone. 

If your A+ player has the technical skills and knowledge, the last thing he wants is micromanagement.

Make sure to create a plan for how involved you are in your employees’ projects. 

Solution: Fix Management Style

One management style cannot be transferred across all businesses. Your company can require different management depending on the people, jobs, and skills involved. 

How do you adjust how hands-on or off you need to be to spike morale?

1. Evaluate your employees for performance.

Low Performance: Provide a ton of coaching and feedback. Tell them what, when, why, and how.

Medium Performance: Offer some support and suggestions for improvement.

High Performance: Minimize your involvement and track KPIs.

2. Ask direct reports to evaluate their own performance within core responsibilities. 

To do this, set up a shared Google spreadsheet where employees can self-evaluate on a scale of one to three.

Skill Assessment Excel Sheet
In the sheet above, the scale means:

One: I need coaching and feedback. I can't improve on my own.

Two: I'm doing OK, but I could use some support.

Three: I'm already doing a fantastic job. I don't need much help.

By seeing where your employees need help, you can increase productivity and boost morale. 

Make Your Employees Feel Valued 

Boosting morale can feel like a difficult task, but it is worth the effort to invest in it. 

Stick to these tips and your employees’ morale will increase and create a better environment at work. Consult with an experienced HR firm to know just how to implement best employee practices.