As senior managers it can be all consuming to ensure the books are balancing, the sales pipeline is looking healthy, or that the board is satisfied – but when did you last check your staff morale?
There are so many factors that can impact staff morale, but there's only one result – a negative impact on your culture!
If morale is low then productivity levels will be even lower, and your staff turnover will be high – both of which are costly to your organisation!
Of course, during these turbulent times your teams will generally keep their heads down and plod on with their work (after all no-one wants to intentionally lose their job), but you won't see any enthusiasm, innovation or energy, and your office generally becomes a miserable place to work.
So, if everyone has their heads down working and you as a senior manager are busy trying to achieve top level targets, how do you even recognise the signs that a negative culture is creeping into your business?
Some of the warning signs for low staff morale:
- No Smiling – Does that sound too simplistic? It shouldn't – if you have team members who are usually happy souls, then the lack of smiles are a massive indicator and shouldn't be ignored.
- Off Sick – If it's not a nice place to work then people are going to want to turn up less and less.
- Increased Conflict – Unhappy teams do not gel and conflict can be quick to surface.
- Lack of Enthusiasm – When people feel down it drains their physical energy; they struggle to concentrate, let alone have any innovative flair or the willingness to go the extra mile for the company – if anything a more 'work to rule' culture will develop.
- Increased Staff Turnover – If your people aren't happy (especially your good people), then they will look elsewhere!
Now although you are relying on your managers to identify and inform you about the low staff morale, more often than not, whatever is causing the issue is also affecting the managers too (it might even be a particular manager causing the problem in the first place, so if this is the case it's really important that your staff know who they can go to).
You have to provide a culture of trust where all staff feel that they can report issues openly and honestly without fear of repercussion, and that their concerns will be addressed.
You can capture staff feedback in a variety of ways, a company engagement survey, one to one data, even just by walking the floor and catching people in an informal setting by the coffee machine or at a canteen table.
But beware; if you choose to ignore what your staff are telling you then you will simply lose their respect and compound the problem so that a culture of 'put up or shut up' is created – and who would want to work in a company like that?
What we can do to improve staff morale:
- Listen – You know your staff. If a generally upbeat, hardworking member of your team has flagged up a problem then don't ignore it, it won't just go away. Take the time out to listen to all their concerns and provide a timeframe for getting back to them with your thoughts and decisions.
- Investigate – Busy senior managers can sometimes be too reactive in order to achieve quick fixes to move onto the next pressing agenda item, but if it's your culture at jeopardy then you have to find out the underlying facts and investigate possible solutions so that you don't make the situation worse.
- Communicate – If you let your teams know that you are aware a problem exists, that it is being investigated, and that you will keep them informed of your thoughts and progress to resolve, then they will naturally settle down. But again beware, if you don't follow through on your promise and try to sweep the issue under the carpet it will manifest itself as a much larger problem further down the line.
So in summary, your staff morale is at the heart of everything you stand for as a company and if you don't recognise the warning signs where staff morale is deteriorating or worse you choose to ignore it, then don't be surprised when your company fails.