7 Surefire Employee Morale Killers

October 28, 2016 Pete Jansons


Office life: business team during a meeting

As a small business leader, one of the best investments you can make is in the engagement and morale of employees. Disengaged employees are more likely to call in sick, perform poorly and can cost companies thousands of dollars a year in lost productivity. If you’ve noticed an increase in absenteeism lately or an overall sense of gloom in the workplace, you may have a morale problem. Take a moment to consider what could be causing this disengagement. Below are five surefire morale killers that could be infecting your workplace.

Playing the blame game: Mistakes are inevitable in any workplace. Part of being a manager is accepting that mistakes happen and using them as opportunities to improve. Unfortunately, some managers refuse to accept responsibility for their workers’ mistakes and pass the blame on someone else. Not only does that take a toll on a person’s morale, it instills fear in the workplace.

Being dishonest: While you may feel the need to keep employees in the dark about certain things, it’s never okay to outright lie to them. Making false promises — about pay raises, promotions or time off, for example — will come back to haunt you. You will lose your employees’ trust and respect, and it’s hard to motivate people who don’t trust you.

Threatening jobs: Threatening your employees’ jobs in order to motivate them will almost always have the opposite effect. Rather than feeling driven to perform well, they will be distracted by feelings of fear, anxiety or resentfulness for being made to feel disposable. Not only will this take a toll on morale, it will hurt productivity and lessen the quality of their work.

Providing no direction: You may think you are giving your employees freedom by staying “hands off,” but not providing any sort of direction or clarity around their jobs or what’s expected of them can cause frustration and stress.  particularly when, if they make a mistake, they are reprimanded for it.

Micromanaging: Where some managers are too hands-off, being too hands on can be just as detrimental to morale. Employees need to feel that you trust them, which will never happen if you’re constantly looking over their shoulder and telling them how to do their job better.

Never saying thanks: While berating employees for mistakes can be a surefire morale killer, never telling employees when they do a good job can be just as bad. Employees aren’t mind readers. If they are doing a good job, tell them so. While you shouldn’t feel the need to compliment your employees for every small thing or go overboard with extravagant rewards, it’s important to let them know they are appreciated. A sincere gesture that says “thank you” and lets them know their work matters can do wonders for morale.

Holding employees back: Do you discourage employees from trying new pursuits or taking on projects that fall outside of their normal responsibilities? These are instant morale killers. People want to work in a place where they feel their ideas are appreciated and their talents utilized. Encourage employees to bring new ideas to the table or pursue projects that interest them even if they don’t necessarily fall into their normal duties. Giving employees room to explore their passions will make them more passionate in their jobs and about their work.

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