Tips on Finding the Root Cause of Low Employee Morale

Too many companies suffer from sagging employee morale. In fact, a recent study revealed that employee engagement is one of the top three challenges facing HR departments. It turns out that when the mood in the workplace is negative, employees become irritable, unfocused and productivity plummets. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the cause of dissatisfaction, then deal with before the downward spiral gets worse.


Research has shown that only a third of American workers are enthusiastic and productive in their jobs. Not surprisingly, the cost of low morale can be devastating for companies and comes in the form of greater turnover and absenteeism, more safety incidents and lower productivity. The bottom line is when morale sinks, so do company profits.


Heightened tensions in the workplace can stem from many causes — from company layoffs, to a loss of faith in leadership, to increased workloads, to pay disparities, to workers feeling unappreciated. Too often, company management is unaware employee tension even exists. For instance, look at the popular CBS reality series, “Undercover Boss,” which shows what happens when a CEO works incognito alongside low-level employees at their company. In short, the boss discovers the truth about how bad things are and gets a new appreciation for the workers at the bottom.


Of course, sending your company’s corporate executives in disguise to work alongside employees isn’t realistic. So how can a company learn why morale is deteriorating? Here are some starting points.


Send out an anonymous employee survey with questions covering everything from workload and management to company perks and office politics. Encourage your employees to be brutally honest. Consider implementing pulse surveys to measure morale, which are short monthly, weekly or daily polls. Be aware that for surveys to have any effect, management must act on them.


Conduct focus groups with a diverse set of workers across departments and roles. The group should be comprised of about ten employees — small enough to allow everyone to share insights, and yet large enough to provide a diversity of experience. Use this time to find out and understand what matters to your workers. Invite them to share their feelings, concerns, and opinions. You may be surprised by what you learn through a group interaction.


Monitor social media mentions about your company. Start with Glassdoor, a jobs website, which lets people vent about companies, rate their employers and leave anonymous reviews. Check blogs and social media networks for insight into work conditions, salaries and other concerns prospective and current employees may have about your company.


Low morale can disrupt workplaces at all levels. As this article shows, finding and addressing the root cause of worker discontent can go a long way toward lightening the mood in the workplace. For more ideas and tips about motivating employees, visit the Nesco Resource website.