If you need to jump into a time machine to recall the last time you communicated business goals or asked your team for feedback and really listened, you might want to take a look to see if your company suffers from low employee morale.
Why? Because in an Accountemps survey, 37 percent of the workers polled said they thought their managers could do a better job at communication, and 31 percent listed recognition as something they wished for from higher-ups.
Managers can learn to spot potential issues and deal with them head on before the problem leads to lower productivity, or worse, a mass exodus of top performers. The first step is to take a look at five signs of low employee morale in the workplace — and ways to counteract it.
1. Changes in attitude
If you have unhappy employees on your team, it will show. Look for red flags — increased negativity, high or increased rates of absenteeism, or reduced cooperation or commitment. Checking in with workers on a regular basis will help you gauge employee morale and address budding problems.
2. An active grapevine
When communication is scarce, gossip, misinformation and conflict flourish. Even if you have bad news to share or don’t have all the answers, honesty is still the best policy. The more team members can rely on accurate information, the less grist they’ll have for the rumor mill. Good communication will help turn the negative into positive.
3. Lack of initiative
Unmotivated employees go through the motions rather than taking an active seat at the table. Foster an ownership environment in which people have the expectations that they should take the initiative, demonstrate leadership and solve problems in creative ways. Not only will that improve employee morale at your company, but it will help your workforce thrive in any kind of economy.
4. Scarce rewards
Step up efforts to recognize accomplishments with praise, low-cost awards and spot bonuses. Make rewards personal, and give them as soon as possible after an achievement to raise workplace morale and lower employee turnover.
5. Poor performance
Employee morale problems can quickly affect a team’s quality of work. Signs of trouble include missed deadlines, an increase in mistakes or a decline in service levels. Ask your team members if they feel burdened by the amount of work they have to do.
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Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated recently with new information.