3 Ways to Re-Engage Your Employees and Boost Their Morale

© Yuri Arcurs - Fotolia.com
© Yuri Arcurs - Fotolia.com

The topic of employee morale and employee engagement is much in the news as of late.

I can’t say I’m surprised. With the current state of the economy those still employed, while grateful for the work, are likely near the end of their ropes.

Why? Simple. Though company profits are at near record highs, company leaders are not hiring.

I’ve read countless articles both in Europe and the U.S. about the sheer exhaustion and sense of hopelessness among employees who know they took on the work of one or more colleagues who were laid off – and they continue to perform those multiple jobs.

Research out of the UK and the U.S. show the truth in this.

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  • “This latest Happiness at Work Index, a regular barometer of workplace morale, shows that employee happiness has steadily decreased during 2011; with the percentage of workers reporting high levels of morale falling from almost half (46.6 percent in January to two fifths (40.6 percent) in March to today’s figure of just 36.5 percent.” (Badenoch & Clark, reported in HR Review)
  • “The overall picture of employee engagement in the UK is lagging in 2011, according to the global Perspectives survey. The UK fell four places in the global engagement rankings to 17th. (ORC International, reported in the UK’s HR Magazine)
  • “70 percent of employees are now either disengaged or under engaged at their job – a record high number since Modern Survey began tracking these numbers in 2007 before the recession started. Additionally, the number of fully engaged employees has dropped to a record low of just 8 percent. Compared to one year ago when 15 percent of the workforce was fully engaged, the most recent data demonstrates a profound deterioration in the number of workers who are fully committed to their work and to their organization.” (U.S. research from Modern Survey)

Aside from the sheer drop in engagement and morale alone, the Modern Survey report revealed two other unsurprising, but concerning, trends.

  • Across job levels, pay structure and company size, a fifth of workers are currently looking for a new job. This mirrors the results found in the Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker September 2011 report, which revealed more people are looking to leave their companies now (38 percent) than in February 2011 (36 percent).
  • Employee “belief in the future of the organization” has dropped from 48 percent in 2010 to 34 percent today.

What can you as a leader, manager or HR pro do?

  1. Look closely at the work responsibilities of employees who have taken on the roles of those who were laid off. How can you reduce responsibilities to a reasonable level or make a strong case for hiring more support.
  2. Rebuild employee trust in the organization through clear, frequent communication of what the company is doing today and plans to do in the future to both succeed in the market and appreciate employees for their efforts.
  3. Evaluate your company culture to see what changes need to be made to encourage stronger relationships between people. Building such a team culture helps create horizontal loyalty – the connections between employees that get the work done.

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.

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4 Comments on “3 Ways to Re-Engage Your Employees and Boost Their Morale

  1. I found this article to be very interesting.  I always kindof assumed that with the recession employee morale had dropped, but this article gave clear-cut evidence on why the morale has dropped.  It seems like the employees attitudes towards work has decreased in about every possible way.  I like the 3 solutions for this problem that the author describes to increase morale of the employees and get them engaged again. 

  2. Derek, good article, I agree with your findings, I have similar research and data, it should be of concern to employers, but I know that most won’t respond.

    There is one point that I might debate, and that is the issue of responsibility and productivity.  The one thing that we did experience in this current tough economy, was the ability of the workforce to step up to the plate and do more with less.  Now, if you were an employer, why would you lower the bar, it doesn’t make sense, you now have a new productivity standard, going backwards isn’t good business.

    That being said, I would suggest that employers balance that new productivity increase with other incentives that will keep the workforce engaged.  If you increased productivity by $20 per hour, be smart and invest some of that back into engagement, you’ll still be ahead.

  3. Great post, Derek! I agree that employers should implement reassurance of the employees worth and longevity of company growth and goals in order to keep employees more engaged and happy to be at work

  4. Your first step in examining how to improve morale is to get clear on this point. Often when I’m working with supervisors or middle managers, I hear “You should be talking with senior management. They’re the ones who need to hear this.” Although they may be right, as one research has shown that an employee’s supervisor affects their performance and loyalty far more than does the CEO or the overall organizational climate. Thus, even if your senior management team doesn’t seem interested in improving morale, research shows that you can make a huge difference. The key to both your effectiveness and job satisfaction is to focus on the things you can control and influence, and practice letting go of those things totally out of your control.

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