Spotting the Signs of Low Morale and how to Improve it

This year has been hugely unsettling for everyone, no matter what role you play in a business, what sector you work it, everyone has been affected in some way.


Employees have been required to change how and where they work, deal with new and unprecedented challenges and do this all whilst on the job.


It’s inevitable that with so much change and yet so much uncertainty around when normality will resume, team morale will have taken a hit in recent months.


In normal circumstances, a dip in morale can be easily identified and addressed before any long-term damage is done. However, with so many people now working remotely, it can be much harder to judge the mood of the team.


With so much happening at the moment, monitoring and improving employee morale might feel like a daunting task for managers but it’s essential to tackle it head on in order to keep productivity and performance high and to prevent your top talent leaving the business.


So, what are the most common signs of poor morale?


  1. Attitude

Monitoring the attitude and approach of your team is key to identifying any morale issues. Most people are capable of having an off day and this can be forgiven but if a team member is consistently negative or apathetic there could be a deeper problem. Negativity can show itself in various forms from outwardly complaining to complete detachment and the latter can potentially go undetected if your team is working remotely.


The best way to keep an eye on the attitude of your team is to arrange weekly virtual catch ups, preferably using video so that you can read their body language. If you identify a staff member who is regularly contributing negatively, it’s important to address this one on one. Arrange a separate meeting and allow them to talk about how they’re feeling. Once you’ve discussed what’s on their mind you can then determine the best course of action to make them feel better.


  1. A Drop in Productivity

If the quality and quantity of work being produced has dropped, its important to uncover the reason why. Have they lost enthusiasm? Is there something preventing them from working at full capacity? Are they struggling to perform under increased pressure? There are so many factors that could be contributing to this but if it’s not addressed, it can have serious implications on the output and ultimate success of the business.


Communication is key to resolve this problem. Firstly, understand how your team are feeling and how they’re coping with working under the new norm. Some people may feel detached working remotely and need a little more nurturing, others may feel completely overwhelmed with their workload and will need additional support. From here you can make adjustments based on each person’s individual circumstances.


  1. Increased Absence

There have been lots of studies that connect an increase in sick days with low morale and poor wellbeing so an increase in absence is likely to be a key indicator. Being in the middle of a global pandemic, its likely that a percentage of your staff will be directly affected by the virus but it’s important to implement a process which monitors sickness and absence which involves checking in with any member of the team who is off work. Getting the balance right between offering support and micromanaging is critical as if this is done insensitively it can enhance feelings of negativity.


Monitoring absence is particularly hard given the current circumstances and therefore, having the clearest picture of your team’s morale on a day to day level is even more important. This will give you more confidence when it comes to identifying someone who is absent for genuine reasons.


Offering flexible working hours can be one way to help take the pressure off individuals and allow them to work around personal challenges such as childcare. This can result in improved attendance.


The key to maintaining good morale is ensuring your team feel valued.


Now more than ever, employees need to feel that they are appreciated and that their hard work in these challenging circumstances is being recognised.


Making employee morale a priority will cement your relationship with your teams and will help to reinforce a culture where everyone is working together.


If you have any tips for improving staff morale, we’d love you to share them!


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