5 factors that can bring down employee morale and business productivity

Sam Davtyan
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Are your employees dissatisfied with their jobs? What can you do to improve the work environment?

We are often told that maintaining employee morale is crucial to running a productive and successful business, but we don’t hear as much about what actually reduces employee morale, and how to raise it again.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons your employees are dissatisfied with their jobs, and what you can do to improve things.

Micromanagement

Very few people enjoy the experience of being micromanaged. Having your boss stand over your shoulder and comment on everything you do is frustrating. If it’s a daily event, it can decrease employee productivity, and lead to employees feeling like nothing they do at work matters.

To avoid micromanaging your employees, assign tasks, give them resources, make sure they have deadlines, and then get out of their way. Let them come to you with help or for more information, but give them space to try and figure things out on their own. To do this effectively, it’s important to have project timelines that allow for trial and error as well as mistakes and revisions. In the end, however, the process can greatly benefit employees and the company at large.

Also read: 3 ways effective employee engagement can cut attrition and boost productivity

Unacceptable company policies

Companies policies that favour the company over the employee are a frequent cause of employee dissatisfaction. When companies have ungenerous CTO and PTO policies, when they track every minute of work for salaried employees, when they require employees to pay their own moving expenses, or when they enforce arbitrary and out of date dress codes, employees can feel very frustrated.

Employee policies should be based on a general idea of trust. If you don’t trust your employees, you shouldn’t be hiring them. So policies should assume that your employees are going to dress appropriately, do their work in a timely fashion, and behave like adults in the workplace. If they aren’t able to do that, then those concerns should be dealt with, but based around performance issues instead of policy concerns.

Burnout

Burning out is a major problem for many American employees. While European companies have begun to regulate that employees do not need to be reachable during their off hours, their American counterparts often continue to expect even mid-level managers to put in far more than 40 hours a week. While businesses may talk about work/life balance, the highest levels of management often set the culture by working all hours of the day and night.

If you want to keep burnout from being part of company culture, it needs to start with team leaders. Leave work at a reasonable hour, and make it okay to mention family life in the office. Understand if your employees get up for an extra cup of coffee now and then, and don’t write them up because they need to take a morning off to take their parent to the doctor or see their child’s performance at school.

Also read: 9 ideas to foster health and productivity in the workplace

Unclear expectations

Your employees need to know what you expect from them. Ambiguous expectations hurt companies, teams, and employee morale. If you need something by a certain date, your employees need to know that, and not the morning it’s due.

Oftentimes, unclear expectations are a sign that the team leader themselves aren’t well organised. It’s difficult to let other people know exactly what you need from them when you are struggling to keep up yourself. The best way to combat this, then, is to get organized. Use a planner or digital calendar to mark out important dates and deadlines; use to-do lists to set mini-deadlines; have regular project meetings or team meetings to assess where everyone is on the project in question.

Work importance is unclear

Another factor that can seriously decrease employee morale is feeling like they aren’t sure how their work affects the broader picture of the company. Especially when an employee is completing tasks that may seem boring or repetitive, knowing why they’re doing them helps them stay focused and enjoy their work.

When you assign a task or project to an employee, make sure they know what the overall effect of their work will be. Let them know how this fits into the larger goal, and give them a chance to ask questions.

Also read: 50 productivity tools for startup founders and entrepreneurs

Conclusion

When you keep employee morale high, you benefit your company, your team, and your employee. It just makes sense that employees who are happier are more likely to be at work on time, do better and more consistent work, and contribute to a better work environment. Although employee morale isn’t always discussed when a company looks to restructure or improve its environment, it should be.

How do you make sure to keep employee morale high in the work place?

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