How to Detect Low Morale in the Workplace

Ever feel like your company is in a rut? Employees don’t seem to be as engaged in their work and productivity appears to be falling short. Maybe this has gone on for a few weeks, or even a few months, you can’t exactly remember when or how things got this way, but now you need to fix it!

Low employee morale is the silent killer of businesses. Employees that feel down, disengaged, or unmotivated struggle to produce good work and high results. Low morale can be contagious and take over the work environment quickly. The good news is, there is a cure! Here is what to watch for when trying to detect low morale in the workplace.

What to Watch For: Disengagement and No Purpose

Day after day, employees are doing the same thing. Routine tasks become just one more thing to check off the list before the weekend. Projects that were once inspiring have become drawn out and daunting. The reason behind the work has faded, and your employees have lost their motivation for doing the job.

Solution: Get Feedback and Set Goals

To counteract low morale as a result of humdrum attitudes, try asking for employee feedback. Find out what they need to stay happy and inspired by the work they’re doing. Let them have input on the type of tasks and projects they want to work on and give them a renewed purpose. Remind them of the company’s mission and ask them to help set new goals for themselves and the company. Work together to establish a path to achieve those goals. Incorporate ways to track task competition and goal achievement. Give your employees rewards for reaching different stages of their goals.


What to Watch For: Lack of Trust in Leadership

Lack of trust is a big one. Trust in executive members and leaders in the company is a huge factor when it comes to a well-functioning workplace. Employee morale can be damaged when they feel like there is no open communication between them and work supervisors. Leaders who don’t listen to their employees run the risk of creating resentful relationships. When they resent you, they don’t trust you. Your employees want to know you hear them and they want to know they can trust upper management to improve the workplace based on their suggestions. They need the tools and technology required to fulfill their tasks and need to know that there are systems in place to be continually improving the workplace.

Solution: Listen Up and Follow Through

When given the opportunity, employees generally speak up about the things that make them unhappy or uncomfortable in the workplace. They could be feeling unappreciated. Maybe they are struggling to get their tasks done because of a software or technology issue. They could feel overwhelmed or overworked. Perhaps their primary complaint is the lack of face time they get with their supervisor and other company leaders. Whatever the issues are, they need time to communicate with you. They need to know that you are involved in improving their work environment and can follow through on things promised.

Nix all sense of doubt by opening yourself up to your employees. Get into the figurative trenches with them and ask questions about the work they are doing. Find out what their daily challenges are and offer real solutions, not false promises. Once employees see how much you care about giving them the tools and attention they need to be successful, they’ll rebuild their trust in company leadership, and their commitment will improve.

What to Watch For: Frequent Absences

Uninspired workers become unhappy workers, and this leads to more frequent absences. A study by the American Psychological Association found that employees that lack morale and overall wellbeing call in more frequently than other employees. Frequent absences result in companies spending up to $28,000 a year in sick-day expenses and lost productivity.

Employees who call in frequently are at a higher risk of turnover. Employees quit for several reasons. Some common ones include:

  • Lack of meaningful relationships with coworkers or management
  • Not feeling like a valuable part of the team
  • The workplace isn’t fun, friendly, or engaging

Solution: Encourage Friendship and Teamwork

Turnover can catch like wildfire in a struggling workplace. When one employee puts in their notice, others are sure to follow. Nip it in the bud by focusing on teamwork. Create a workplace culture that is inviting and supportive of each employee. Encourage employees to talk to each other and cultivate friendships. A Gallup poll found that employees who reported having a work best friend were more likely to turn down external job offers. Incorporate engagement games and teamwork activities to help employees strengthen their relationships and create memories.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but remember that most often, employees don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. Don’t forget to set an example and join in on the fun. Employees will see that you are more approachable and will likely be more open to discussing things that would make them fulfilled as an employee.


What to Watch For: No Incentives or Benefits

Employees need constant motivation to stay engaged in the workplace. Morale takes a dip when employees feel like there is no incentive to doing their job. Other than the need to make a paycheck, many employees report not having enough benefits or opportunities to feel like their job matters. Often, employees begin to feel like they’re stuck in a dead-end job that offers no incentive to be productive.

Solution: Give Recognition and Praise

You want the best from your employees, so give them the best. Create a recognition program that offers employees unique benefits and shows them how much you appreciate their dedication. Programs can reward employees with thank you cards, giveaways, prizes, gift cards, additional vacation days, and more. Utilize games, thank you cards, goal trackers, performance indicators, and milestone achievements as a basis for recognition. Offer additional training opportunities or educational benefits. Be creative and consistent with the recognition you give and your employees will begin to feel more appreciated.

Employees who feel good produce good work. The consequences of not boosting the morale in your workplace can include low productivity, high turnover, lack of employee trust, and an overall disgruntled feeling. Keep in mind that low morale can have a domino effect on all of your employees. Always be on the lookout for the signs of low morale and put procedures in place to correct and prevent it from affecting your business long-term.

For ideas on how to keep employees engaged, download our free Ebook!

What Real Employees are Saying About Recognition