Why Low Morale is Detrimental

Photo from In.com coverage of the Caterpillar Layoffs

Low morale can have a direct correlation with a drop in productivity and a lack of loyalty.

Some offices are known for having a terribly low morale and others are known for a high morale. While compensation and other tangible incentives play a part in the morale of an office, I’ve found it isn’t the defining factor in workplace happiness.

The first article that pops up in a Google search of “office morale” is one in 2007 by Rodney Southern, How to Boost Morale in Your Office and Workplace.

He has some great general suggestions for keeping morale high. Make the weekends and days off truly days off.

“Repeated calls at home on your day off will destroy morale over time, and usually leads to an employee looking for work elsewhere,” he writes.

The second and in my opinion far more important is “Do not compare Jack to Jane — When assigning a task to someone, do not monitor their progress based on the speed of others.”

I couldn’t agree more. Most of us aren’t factory workers. We can achieve realistic goals that are based on our abilities and skills, not on the abilities and skills our higher-ups wish we had.

This leads me to a related issue. If you as a supervisor do not take full advantage of your employees skills and talents and instead go to someone less qualified to write or design or interview someone, don’t be surprised when that person puts in their two weeks notice. People want to feel valued. They want to feel as if the work they do is challenging and interesting. The moment neither of those two things happens, they’ll start looking hard for something else.

Interested in another view of how other locations handle the morale issue, I posed the question to Jason Mollica, PR manager at Carr Marketing Comm. in Amherst, New York. His blog, One Guys Journey, can be found here.

“The most important thing in keeping office morale high is to be respectful of all around you,” he said. “Although there may disagreements, it’s important to realize that the minute you go negative, that’s when the game changes.”

Mollica said he once had a boss who started out very helpful. However, as time went on, this same helpful boss became very critical.

“I’m all for constructive criticism, but when you tell someone you can’t do something or that everything you do is wrong in their book, that’s when the respect level drops to zero,” he said. “It also degrades morale.”

As for what qualities make a good leader, the answer to Mollica is obvious.

“In the toughest situations, it’s how you handle things that show others the type of leader you are,” he said. “Good leaders make sure that morale doesn’t get low.”

Maybe that’s the key. The issue isn’t low morale, it is ineffectual leadership. Not everyone is going to be the best leader all the time, but I would take a boss who is a great leader some of the time, over one who leads with fear.

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