Staff morale is about how employees feel at work, how they find drive for themselves and influence others to do their best.

When it’s good, it has the ability to increase productivity, employee satisfaction and your organisation’s reputation.

On the other hand, poor or reduced staff morale can make employees feel disengaged from their work, colleagues, and eventually, your organisation. As a manager, it’s important to take the time to understand the value of employee morale and how to improve it in your workplace.

The benefits of good staff morale

Why should every organisation care deeply about improving and maintaining positive staff morale? Because it can influence so many aspects of your organisation. Here are just some of the benefits:

  • Increased job satisfaction

Employees who feel passionate and engaged with their work, have colleagues that feel the same way and leaders who respect and reward them are going to be happy in their roles. It’s as simple as that.

  • Boosted productivity

Employee morale helps boost productivity because staff care about their colleagues and their work outputs. Happy employees will be determined to complete projects to deadline, exceed expectations and put in extra hours (if required), because they’re invested in what they do.

  • Greater employee tenure

In the same way strong staff morale positively influences employee satisfaction and productivity, it also creates work environments that are supportive and inclusive. These are workplaces that employees will be loyal to, potentially accumulating many years of tenure.

  • Stronger relationships with customers and clients

Not only will great staff morale benefit your organisation internally, but expect this satisfaction and passion to radiate outwards to your customers and clients. When staff morale is high, customer satisfaction usually follows. Employees believe in the products and messaging they are sharing, and are dedicated to the organisation’s purpose.

  • Improved reputation in the candidate marketplace

Great employee morale is something that can make you a promising and inviting employer for top talent. Employees are not going to be attracted to an organisation that has a reputation for low staff engagement and the absence of camaraderie. Rather, they want an assurance that they’ll be valued and engaged with their new employer. With an increasing number of ways that candidates can research workplace culture and glean information from their networks, be sure that your organisation’s strong staff morale will be widely known.

Given the manifold benefits of strong employee morale, it’s easy to see how low staff morale could negatively affect employee welfare, business success and customer relations. Think high staff turnover, lasting harm to the company’s brand, and criticism from customers and target audiences.

How to improve employee morale

There are no shortage of ways through which to improve staff morale, but all actions need to revolve around making staff feel valued and engaged. Employee morale is about how whole teams feel and work, so think holistically when implementing strategies to improve team spirit and enthusiasm at your workplace.

Try these four techniques to start:

1. Open dialogue

Open dialogue means that employees of all levels and departments are free to speak their minds, sharing ideas and opinions without fear of reprimand or criticism. In turn, they also feel confident and safe at work, and these conditions tend to make for happy and engaged employees. Furthermore, when employees know they can speak openly, process gets challenged, great ideas emerge and honest feedback flows.

2. Provide professional support and development opportunities

Low staff morale can stem from employees feeling both undervalued and overly stressed in their roles. Providing attentive professional support in the form of regular meetings, extra on-the-job training or even external classes or courses can ensure employees feel valued and supported. Mentoring programs are another great way to help employees acquire new skills and grow professionally. Skills development and staff support will help create a culture that is engaging, and an environment in which employees feel capable and positive about their work. Empowering staff to drive their own career with confidence is a key element of great employee morale.

3. Improve and promote wellbeing

The happiness and morale of staff hinges on their psychical and mental well-being. Provide the means for staff to drink ample water and eat healthily, and if your employees are sedentary for most the day, encourage regular movement and stretching. Show that you take mental health seriously by offering mental health leave days, discounting appointments with counsellors or psychologists, and removing stigma around issues like depression.

4. Recognise and reward staff

Firstly, ensure your employee salaries and packages are commensurate and competitive with what is being offered in the industry. Then, when your employees go above and beyond their everyday jobs to achieve great things for your company, make sure they know it's appreciated. This might mean praising them during a staff meeting, or if it was a team effort, organising a team lunch.

What makes good staff morale will vary between organisations, and may require some experimentation and flexibility from you as the employer. However, there are some elements that are common to all industries and businesses. Listen openly, take concerns and questions seriously, and act when necessary, and you can expect higher morale, deeper engagement and greater employee satisfaction to flourish.