3 Signs of Low Employee Morale and What to Do About It

Chelsea Finn
3 Signs of Low Employee Morale and What to Do About It

In today's age of high burnout rates, The Great Resignation, the shift in office work culture to remote work; it can be hard to keep up with what's going on within your organization and with your team. But it's more important than ever to understand how to help take care of your employee's wellbeing in order to prevent burnout, high turnover or low employee morale. 

Low employee morale can easily start with one person on your team and spread to others within your organization.  Low employee morale can happen for various reasons, but it often happens when managers or leadership members make employees feel unhappy and unmotivated at work. There are many causes for low employee morale, which we will cover below, but it's important to recognize how you can impact your team as a manager. The more engaged you are, the more engaged your team will be. In fact, a Gallup survey has found that managers who work for an engaged leader are 39%  more likely to be engaged at work and employees who work for engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged themselves. In addition to being an engaged manager in your organization, you also have to make sure you aren't contributing to actions that are going to leave your employees feeling frustrated or unmotivated. 


What Causes Low Employee Morale?

In order to prevent low employee morale, it's important to understand what could potentially cause it. By taking preventative measures, you can keep your employees from feeling disengaged or unhappy at work, which will simultaneously keep retention levels high and a healthy/productive workplace. 

Here are a few causes of low employee morale: 

  • Lack of Effective Communication from Management
  • A High-Stress Environment
  • Micromanaging 
  • Not Enough Employee or Management Training
  • Lack of Opportunities Within the Organization
  • Feeling disrespected by Management or Coworkers
  • Leadership Failing to Address Discrimination or Bullying
  • Failure to Give Feedback 
  • Not Feeling Empowered or Trusted 

Now that you understand what could cause low employee morale, it's important to know the signs of it within your organization and how to address it.

Below are 3 major signs of low employee morale and what you can do about it. 


1. An Increase in Tardiness and/or Calling Out Frequently 

Do you have an employee who is suddenly calling out frequently or seems to be getting to the office late on most days? It's very possible that there may be reasons for this outside of work-related issues that aren't tied to low employee morale. The best course of action is to sit down with your staff member and have a one-on-one conversation to see if there's anything you can do to help support them and their schedule. If they do seem to be disinterested in work, make sure they are feeling challenged enough or  make sure that you're aligned on a career plan. Vice versa, if your employee seems to be overwhelmed or burnt out, offer to go through their list of priorities with them and see if there are any resources you can provide. This will show your staff that you are there to support and work with them. 


2. A Lack of Participation or Engagement at Work 

Does an employee who is usually social all of a sudden seem to be skipping out on social engagements at work? Or have they been quieter than usual on meetings? There could be a few reasons for this - maybe they are avoiding a certain coworker, or perhaps they aren't feeling valued at work which will almost always cause employees to become disengaged at work. Make sure your staff is feeling recognized for all of their hard work; you should be working with others (including leadership) within your organization to make sure there are programs in place for employee recognition.

Additionally, if you're employee is having issues with a coworker, make sure any employee complaints are handled and investigated by HR - especially when it comes to discrimination and bullying. 


3. Poor Work Performance/Lower Quality Work 

Along with a lack of participation and engagement at work, poor work performance and lower quality of work is a red flag when it comes to employee morale. 

Be sure to have regular one-on-one meetings with your employees scheduled so that you can make sure you're aware of their workload and gauge how they're feeling about it. Be strategic when it comes to your team structure or new hires - consider hiring extra help if it's needed. 


When it comes to employee morale, there are several other actions you can take regularly to make sure it doesn't get low. Conduct quarterly surveys to determine employee engagement levels, this is also a great opportunity to get feedback from your team. Additionally, it's essential to have a strong training program in place that's focused on anti-harassment, anti-violence and anti-discrimination. Lastly, make sure all of your managers have resources set in place that are going to set themselves and their teams up for success.  


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