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Employee Morale: How To Improve It and Why You Should

Experiencing low morale in your organization? Learn how to measure sentiment and improve your overall employee experience.

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One thing you’ll never see in a job ad is the company’s current employee morale level. Imagine it as a percentage. 

95% positive morale would be an excellent indicator that management is doing a great job, team members are collaborating well, and the company supports its employees with their work-life balance. But a company with only 20% positive morale might have recently experienced layoffs, not given pay raises for the past few years, and failed to recognize when its staff is completely overworked. 

Packed full of expert insights, our guide explores employee morale in more detail—we’ll look at how to measure it, improve it, and the benefits of committing to this process. 

Understanding employee morale

Employee morale is the overriding feeling individual employees have about their role, the company, and the people they work with. Morale impacts people personally—one person may dread coming into work, while another feels jazzed about the project they’re working on or the exciting direction the company is heading toward. 

But the thing about morale is it’s contagious. When someone feels down, it can spread to others, creating a negative or even toxic atmosphere in the workplace. The opposite is also true: when a person is enthusiastic and motivated, it can rub off on their colleagues, boosting team morale across the board and improving employee retention.

How to measure morale at your organization

Itching to learn more about the vibe in your own company? Use a selection of the methods below to benchmark current morale levels, then reassess at intervals, such as monthly, quarterly, and annually to understand your impact on morale. 

  • Run surveys: Create regular employee engagement, employee satisfaction, and pulse surveys to understand sentiment in your organization. Use a mix of closed (Yes/No) and open-ended questions (free text) to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. These give you insights into specific areas to improve and highlight any overarching trends in employee morale.  
  • Hold 1:1 meetings: Discussions between employees and managers provide a safe space to share thoughts, concerns, and ideas. These conversations also allow for more personalized and detailed feedback on specific issues that may impact how someone feels about their work.
  • Collect anonymous employee feedback: Not all employees feel comfortable sharing their honest feelings with a superior. Anonymous feedback systems allow employees to be candid without fearing judgment or repercussions. 
  • Measure work output: If your team members aren’t hitting their deadlines on time, or you notice errors or lower-quality output, this can indicate low morale. Sometimes, this is because employees don’t have the resources they need to succeed or because they’re not motivated to give their all. 
  • Notice team relationships: Consider how your employees interact with each other. Increased tension, conflict, gossip, or less collaboration than usual could be a sign of low employee morale. On the other hand, strong and positive team dynamics can point toward high morale levels. 
  • Assess absenteeism: If employees frequently call in sick, this may suggest your employees aren’t motivated to come to work due to zero healthy work-life balance or other underlying issues.

What are the benefits of high employee morale?

Trying to raise employee morale can sometimes feel like chasing rainbows. So many variables are involved, and it can be challenging to pinpoint what your employees feel and need from you. But there are key benefits available for those who invest in the process: 

High morale boosts productivity 

Employees who feel positive and motivated are more likely to work hard and produce high-quality work. They have a sense of purpose and drive that pushes them to excel in their roles. 

High morale retains your best workers 

When your workplace is home to a positive vibe, satisfied employees are less likely to look for a new job. Your workers will feel valued and fulfilled in their roles, making them more likely to stay with the company for the long term. The best part? You can expect to save time and resources on recruitment and onboarding costs. 

High morale positively impacts your employer brand 

Your current employees are your best brand ambassadors. They share their positive experiences with others, whether it’s through word of mouth or social media. But be warned: they’ll also share the bad, which talented job seekers will pick up on before or during the application process. By prioritizing employee morale, you create a positive workplace culture that attracts top talent and strengthens your employer brand

8 ways to improve employee morale

Every company wants its employees to have sky-high morale but doesn’t always know how to make it happen. Follow these eight strategies to move the needle on morale in your organization: 

Recognize and appreciate your people 

Noticing your employees for the contributions they give and the energy they bring can make such a difference to their mood. While some companies invest in a formal program like the Benepass Rewards and Recognition program, others may make do with informal “Thank yous” or team lunches with the boss. 

CEO Michael Alexis describes the value that recognition has brought to his company, teambuilding.com

“One evergreen way we’ve improved employee morale is by starting a peer-to-peer praise channel on Slack, where any team member can acknowledge any other team member at any time. The idea is to democratize employee recognition so that hardworking, kind remote workers do not have to wait for busy managers to acknowledge them. The warm fuzzies abound and compound, and team members feel seen and appreciated by everyone in the organization, not just their direct supervisors or teammates. Plus, the channel makes team members feel like part of something larger than themselves or their departments, which is important in remote settings.”

At Life Architekture, Founder and Psychology Consultant Bayu Prihandito explains the success of using a Kudos Board to post notes of appreciation for colleagues’ efforts. He told us: 

“This visible and public display of gratitude promotes a positive workplace atmosphere overall. It encourages everyone to notice and appreciate each other’s contributions. It also creates a direct sense of community and belonging. I make it a part of each weekly team meeting to personally acknowledge these efforts, further emphasizing the value we place on every team member’s contribution.”

Whatever your approach, keep it inclusive and consistent. Every member of your organization should be able to exchange praise with their peers to keep spirits high even during stressful times. 

Offer competitive salaries 

69% of people agree or strongly agree that more employees will quit in 2024 if they don’t consider their salaries rewarding, according to MyPerfectResume’s 2024 Workplace Trends Survey. While only one market employer can pay the top salary for any role, it’s important to benchmark your salaries against industry rivals to ensure you remain competitive. Fail to do so, and you’ll have employees who: 

  • Don’t feel they’re compensated fairly 
  • May not put maximum effort into their tasks 
  • Are actively seeking work elsewhere

Offer flexible work arrangements 

Thinking of mandating return-to-office policies this year? You could see employee morale take a nosedive if you commit to this. A recent RTO study reports that 36% of people believe no perk or benefit is worth returning to the office full-time for. Additionally, 64% believe their employer only wants them back in the office because they don’t trust people to do their work. 

The way around this is to be an employer known for prioritizing flexible work arrangements, in terms of both location and scheduling. Phil McParlane, Founder & CEO of 4DayWeekJobs, explains why this is vital in today’s job market: 

“We understand that the heart of a thriving company lies in its people. That’s why we give our team the freedom to manage their schedules, trusting them to know how they work best. Our approach is straightforward: treat adults like adults. We’ve done away with micromanagement and rigid policies, instead encouraging open dialogue about workload and deadlines. This shift has led to a more relaxed atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable discussing their needs and offering support to their colleagues. Our team members report higher job satisfaction, and we’ve noticed a ripple effect of positivity that extends to customer interactions.”

Build an engaged work culture no one wants to leave 

Company culture is another element crucial to the employee experience, and it can seriously affect employee morale. But building a culture that people don’t want to leave is easier said than done. One approach suggested by Chief People Officer Heidi Hauver is to conduct an engagement campaign, which works as follows: 

“Take the initiative to actively lean in and dedicate one-on-one time to connect with your teams on a personal level. By prioritizing these interactions, you establish strong personal connections, share important updates, gather feedback, and recognize achievements, all of which contribute to fostering a sense of unity, collaboration, and inclusivity among your employees. These connections also serve as a foundation for conducting stay interviews, offering you valuable insights into the motivations and challenges of your team members. This knowledge will allow you to provide individualized support, create growth opportunities, and demonstrate your commitment to their well-being and success.” 

Prioritize transparency 

Successful companies prioritize transparent internal communication. This means being open, honest, and upfront about changes happening within the company and providing clear expectations for employees. In turn, this shows respect for your team members and lets them know their contributions are valued. Jon Hill, Chairman & CEO of The Energists, explains: 

“Employee morale is highest in organizations where there are strong trust bonds between coworkers, as well as between employees and leadership.”

Learn how to motivate your team intrinsically 

While extrinsic rewards like performance bonuses and Employee of the Month awards may be a huge driver for some of your workers, others will undoubtedly lean toward intrinsic motivators instead. These are the non-material rewards that come from performing a task, completing a project, or mastering a skill. CEO and Founder Sandeep Kashyap describes how intrinsic motivation has been key to improving employee morale at ProofHub:

“I came across Daniel Pink’s book Drive for the first time in the early days of my startup, and it struck me. I liked the concept of intrinsic motivation. Pink argues that external forces like financial compensation or praise only generate short-term motivation. These forces are simply not enough to inspire committed and driven employees in the long run. According to Pink, there are three key factors of intrinsic motivation: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. So, how do I implement these factors in my workplace?

  1. I go beyond a simple ‘good job.’ I always try to acknowledge my employees and their achievements in public. Plus, I highlight their specific contributions so everyone knows why they are being appreciated. This motivates them—and others—to do better.
  2. I give my employees ownership and freedom to make decisions about their respective assigned tasks and projects. This fosters their desire to do better and excel in their tasks. Make sure you regularly check in with them to see if they have the support they need.
  3. I make them feel valued. Tell them how they are contributing to the success of the organization. This gives them a sense of meaning and purpose, which motivates them to work toward the organization’s goals as if they were their own.”

Commit to employee development 

Many employees prioritize professional growth opportunities, which also signals that their employers have invested in their development. LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report reveals that: 

  • 7 in 10 people say learning improves their sense of connection to their organization 
  • 8 in 10 people say learning adds purpose to their work 

If employees don’t see opportunities for advancement in their current role, they may start to look elsewhere. That’s why companies need to commit to employee development by providing training, mentorship programs, and clear career progression paths. 

Get creative with your benefits packages 

Besides salaries, benefits packages are a big deciding factor for many job seekers and can contribute to positive employee morale. A recent MetLife study reports that employees who feel cared for are: 

  • 1.2x more productive
  • 1.3x more loyal
  • 1.5x happier than those who don’t feel cared for

Traditional benefits like healthcare, retirement plans, and paid time off are all important, but companies can also consider more creative options such as wellness programs, family support, and even pet-friendly offices. The challenge is creating benefits packages that appeal to your employees’ needs. 

Lifestyle spending accounts are a game changer here, enabling employers to provide a set fund for employees to spend on benefits that fit their lifestyle and priorities. For example, Fatima might spend her allowance on childcare, while David might put his toward mental health support. By providing this flexibility, employers show that they understand and care about the diverse needs of their team members. 

Boost employee morale with Benepass

Benepass is a flexible benefits platform designed with your people in mind. We understand the best way to support, motivate, and engage your employees is to treat each as the individuals they are. That’s why we offer a wide range of fully customizable pre-tax and perks programs, including: 

Ready to start boosting employee morale in your entire organization? Book a free Benepass demo today to see our platform in action, or contact sales@getbenepass.com to connect with a benefits specialist and learn how to provide an experience your staff will love. 

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Rebecca Noori

Rebecca Noori is a freelance HR Tech and SaaS writer who is obsessed with our world of work. She writes about everything from employee benefits and performance management to upskilling and productivity tips. When she's not writing, you'll find her grappling with phonics homework and football kits, looking after her three kids.

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