Why and how you should bolster staff morale

It’s not just about surrounding yourself with smiling faces. An upbeat work environment buoys productivity and innovation and cuts down on absenteeism and turnover.

Why morale matters

You might have read about the types of employee morale, the factors affecting it, and how to improve it.

But how familiar are you with how morale affects performance and productivity?

Morale is the “overall outlook, attitude, satisfaction, and confidence that employees feel at work.” In more basic terms, happy employees out-earn and outperform their competitors. Here are seven major benefits of high employee morale:

1. High employee morale results in increased teamwork.  As a result, individuals are more inclined to work collaborate. They also feel more secure in their role and invested in your company, making them motivated to work hard and accomplish more as a team. They want your company to thrive. They have a shared vision and know teamwork will ensure your organization’s long-term success.

2. Companies with high levels of employee morale have better retention. The cost of high turnover can be overwhelming—especially when you’re constantly trying to replace employees with particular and desirable skill sets. Employee satisfaction and retention rates are key performance indicators for business success. High morale helps you keep hold of valued team members.

3. Good morale improves office relationships. When employees have a better relationship with their managers, they feel more confident to ask for training and clarification on their goals and organizational objectives. This relationship can make all the difference in terms of engagement, performance and productivity.

4. The higher the morale, the more productive the team.  According to a 2014 University of Warwick study, when people experience happiness-inducing activities their productivity spikes. In 2004, researchers Rath and Clifton found that employees were far more productive when they had more positive than negative exchanges at work. Furthermore, a Wharton Business School study confirmed a long-term link between happy companies and shareholder returns.

5. Happier companies struggle less with absenteeism.  Employees sometimes take a mental health day or call in sick because they can’t summon the enthusiasm to turn up. A Gallup report found on average each unhappy employee takes 15 extra sick days per year. This absenteeism results in wasted time, money, and performance. Companies can create effective performance management systems to elevate levels of morale, so employees are eager to turn up each day.

6. Greater morale results in greater attention to detail. This is especially obvious in medicine. Doctors who are in a good mood make diagnoses more quickly and accurately than their unhappy colleagues. A University of Toronto study reveals that low moods could hinder our brains’ processing of information. In a high-morale setting, employees tend to have higher attention to detail because they genuinely care about the outcome of a project.

7. Happy employees are more creative. There is a whole host of science behind happiness and creativity. When we are stressed or feel a degree of fear, our “fight or flight” response kicks in. When this happens, our brains slow down to prepare the body for survival. Clearly, this is not a great recipe for creativity.

Stuart Hearn is CEO of Clear Review. A version of this post first appeared on TLNT.

Learn how to build trust and create a thriving culture at Ragan’s “Best Practices in Internal Communications and Culture Conference” April 21-23 in Mountain View, California.

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