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Wellbeing

Navigating workplace morale: A crucial enabler of performance

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Morale is an extremely important consideration for employers. With good morale comes enthusiasm, and with enthusiasm comes happier employees and better work.

According to Employee Morale: Driving Performance in Challenging Times: “If there is one word which encapsulates the benefits which accrue from a high morale organisation, it is this: performance. This refers to performance at the individual level and that of the organisation as a whole. Evidence for morale correlating highly with, and driving, performance is strong and growing.”

A crucial component of any successful business, morale must be catered to and upheld through effective leadership. Indeed’s workplace psychologist Amanda Gordon noted that establishing goals can be a great way to help build team morale.

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“Employees do best when they understand how their work contributes to the big picture. Establishing well-defined goals for the business and ensuring clarity regarding mission and strategy can make a big difference when it comes to morale,” she said.

“Prompt and practical feedback also plays an important role in improving morale. Setting achievable targets and offering regular, constructive feedback helps employees understand how they’re tracking, what they’re doing well, and what can be improved. Guidance offered at regular check-ins can steady and motivate workers in an often-uncertain climate.”

Furthermore, employers should aim to create a safe and enjoyable work environment to allow employees to thrive.

Ms Gordon continued: “It’s also important to consider environmental factors. Ensure the physical environment is clean, pleasant and functional, with good lighting (natural lighting is ideal) and spaces for both collaborative and focused, independent working. And, of course, encourage regular breaks for all employees – even the non-smokers need a smoko.”

To help create a healthy workplace, employers must reduce team stress. Anxiety can be a significant detriment to morale, and it should be addressed from the top.

“Anxiety typically results from a lack of certainty. Rumours about changes or disruptions of any sort are damaging to employees’ mental health. When there is a possibility of change or disruption, aim to be timely and open in communications and, where appropriate, ask for input so that people know that their opinions and needs are being considered. Let employees know a realistic time frame for feedback, especially when the consequences may impact them more deeply,” said Ms Gordon.

“In addition, be clear about targets and goals. Where possible, show appreciation for the excellent work the team is doing, perhaps through additional time off, a nice lunch, or even ‘employee of the week/month’. This will not only serve to motivate and engage employees, but allow them to receive recognition and assurance when they’re doing well, thereby reducing anxiety. Lastly, play to employees’ strengths so they have the opportunity to shine.”

Leaders must also adopt encouraging attitudes if they’re to get the most out of staff. Ms Gordon highlighted that empathy and transparency are two of the most critical skills for a leader to possess.

“Empathy and transparency are important tools for leaders, but it’s equally important to allow employees to have self-efficacy and the right to privacy in the workplace. Don’t force the sharing of emotions or personal matters, but be prepared to support employees who do want to let you know what is going on in their lives,” she said.

“If an employee does ask to discuss a personal matter, it’s important to respond with empathy and show understanding but also remain professional. Depending on the size of the business, it may be appropriate to take a one step removed attitude around personal issues while still demonstrating your care and concern. If it’s appropriate to take a step back, ensure that there is good support available for the employee, whether through a direct manager or HR.”

Ms Gordon concluded: “When it comes to things like decision making (e.g. pay rises, bonuses, promotions, etc.), transparency and open communication is vital so that people understand how their performance is measured and that decisions are being made fairly. In addition, ensure employees have a channel via which they can discuss these matters formally should they wish to.”

RELATED TERMS

Morale

When an organisation or its members can uphold their commitment to a cause or institution in the face of adversity, this is referred to as their morale. It is frequently used as a general evaluation of a group's resolve, submission, and self-control when they are charged with carrying out a superior's instructions.

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