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The Root Causes of Low Employee Morale

- Focusing on Communication Can Fix Them! In these hectic, overworked, understaffed times, some managers can project a negative view to employees – such that they should be lucky to have a job and they shouldn’t complain.

Sadly, this view kills productivity and leads to significant retention, recruiting and training costs down the road. When employees feel unappreciated, the root cause of low employee morale is amplified and that costs management down the line.

Following are five suggestions that will help managers avoid destroying morale:

  1. Form Relationships
    Built on Trust Strong, effective relationships are built on trust. If you don’t have strong, trust-based relationships with your people, everything you do to recognize them will be seen as manipulation. When employees feel that you are using recognition to “get more out of them” rather than to show that you value them personally, they begin to emotionally disengage and morale suffers. Developing trusting relationships with team members takes time, consistency and integrity.
  2. Show Respect
    The book, The One Minute Manager introduces a theory of personal responsibility that allows managers to get maximum results with a minimum of time invested with each staff member. The secret is in showing them respect, defining their expectations and avoiding micro managing. Respected employees are more alert, creative, and productive. When they do make a mistake, they’ll fix it, move on confidently and don’t make that mistake again.
  3. Nurture Creativity
    Once you’ve built trusting relationships and developed a foundation of respect, employees with automatically respond with more creativity. The best way to nurture and benefit from their newfound creativity is to go by the philosophy that there are no bad ideas, only undeveloped ones. Trusted and respected employees with managers who reinforce the fact that they have some flexibility to try new things will surprise you with the creative ingenuity that they bring to their work.
  4. Build Effective Teams
    Team building is a more complex challenge than fostering high morale in individual employees. Here are five problems that many teams develop that keep them from being as effective as they want to be in accomplishing company goals:
      Absence of Trust - due to invulnerability
      Fear of Conflict - artificial harmony
      Lack of Commitment - ambiguity
      Avoidance of Accountability - low standards
      Inattention to Results - caused by individual status and ego issues In the absence of trust, morale is at its lowest and self protectionism becomes the rule. This limits productivity and makes work less rewarding for both employees and their managers. An ‘every man for himself’ attitude destroys teams and makes it impossible to optimize goal setting and achieve corporate objectives in a timely manner.

    Communicating more effectively based on honesty, consistency, vulnerability and respect, will allow teams to focus unselfishly on common results.
  5. Make it Real One of the first things to stress with your management team is what’s called “Making it Real”. This means to be genuine and believable in interactions. Employees tend to fall into common negative habit patterns experienced when they feel underappreciated. When managers understand how to be open and vulnerable with their staff they work towards trust, respect and improved communication.

“Making it Real” is the answer to the question, “What is the root cause of low employee morale?” Without you’re your team believing you are genuine, honest and practicing high levels of integrity, any efforts you make to improve morale will be suspect. If you keep this in mind in your dealings with your people, you will be surprised how easy it is to improve morale, so you can enjoy the benefits of higher productivity, better retention, lower costs and an overall happier, more satisfying workplace.

About the Author: John Schaefer is a Consultant and author with more than 20 years of experience helping companies realize and react to what he calls the Employer/Employee Disconnect. Visit his site at: www.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Commercial Laundry Cited by OSHA

ELM GROVE, W. Va. — Uwanta Linen Supply, a commercial laundry, was recently cited for 21 health and safety violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The laundry faces $62,400 in penalties for the violations. Eighteen of the the 21 violations are considered serious by OSHA. The serious violations include failing to properly guard floor holes and failing to provide hepatitis B vaccines to workers who are potentially exposed to blood borne pathogens.