HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Employee Morale

You’ve just received your team’s employee engagement survey results. You scan through the results and your heart immediately sinks. All you see are negative slopes, sad-face emojis in comments, and lots of red marks. What should you do and where do you start?

What Is Employee Morale?

Employee morale is a measure of how happy and engaged staff are in their jobs. It assesses job satisfaction and commitment. It is an appraisal of how your workers perceive their work, their leaders, and their work environment, and how they fit into it at any given time. Employee morale comes from a combination of factors, including pay, benefits, job security, and relationships with co-workers and leaders. When morale is high, expect higher productivity, lower turnover rates, and communicative relationships, which may lead to improved business results. Boosting employee morale may also help a business and its leaders better attract great candidates for open positions and improve retention rates.

Why Is Employee Morale Important?

Morale has a tremendous impact on employee engagement, motivation, productivity, and how loyal they remain to their team and the company. Addressing employee morale is not always an easy task. An employee’s day-to-day experience likely fluctuates based on internal and external factors, some of which may not even be related to work at all. Leaders and companies can work to improve employee morale by applying some elbow grease, even if morale seems to have tanked recently. If morale seems to be high, leaders should likewise work to ensure employees are continually supported in meaningful ways to avoid a downward turn in morale.

Importance for Employees

Employees with a positive outlook about their jobs and their place in a company tend to contribute more positively to the workplace environment and to their company’s goals as a whole.
  • Purpose. People want purpose and meaning from their work, and they want to be known for what makes them unique. This is what drives employee engagement. Employees need more than a warm, fuzzy feeling and a good paycheck to invest in their work and achieve more for their company.
  • A caring manager. Employees want relationships, particularly with a manager who can coach them to the next level. Managers drive employee engagement. The team environment contributes to engagement as well.

Importance for Employers

High morale is crucial to a business’s overall success. Employees who rank high on the morale scale generally show behavior that ends in positive results.
  • Engagement. Employees who are involved and enthusiastic in their work and workplace perform better. Motivated employees are more likely to put in extra effort when leaders request it, and they tend to enjoy their daily work more. As a result, they produce more with less effort, saving the company money on hiring and training new people.
  • Increased focus on customers or outcomes. Happy employees treat customers better than those who aren’t satisfied with their jobs or their leaders. They may even bring along new customers when they are excited about the company and its offerings. Customers feel respected rather than taken for granted by businesses who only want to make a sale from them.
  • Increased communication. Effective communication is key to any collaborative process, especially in the workplace. When every employee is clear about their own roles and responsibilities, relationships improve, employee satisfaction increases, and productivity follows suit. When leaders practice excellent communication, they foster a workplace culture of teamwork, team building, and trust. Clear expectations and a healthy amount of understanding go a long way in supporting employee morale meaningfully.
  • Reduced turnover. Happy, supported employees are less likely to quit their jobs when they feel satisfied with the value they bring and how they are rewarded. Team members who feel valued are less likely to leave, even if there are greener pastures elsewhere.

Factors That Influence Employee Morale

Employee morale can be an indicator of how a company is doing. It is a challenge to run a business if employees are unhappy and unmotivated. Understanding what factors influence employee morale is critical in order to understand how to improve it.


Communication is more than giving directions or information about a project or a job to be done. It is also about listening to employees’ ideas and concerns and taking action to consider those ideas and address or solve those concerns. It is vital to communicate well in order to maintain good relationships and boost morale. Think about what happens to the relationship when communication breaks down between a manager and the employee. Employees may feel ignored or disrespected if they don’t feel comfortable speaking up when they have concerns or ideas about how things could improve in the workplace.

Work/Life Harmony (or Work/Life Balance)

Employees who feel tired or overworked become unmotivated and burnt out over time. In this state, employees may start looking for jobs that give them more balance. People in general tend to be more productive and creative when they have time to tend to personal matters, relax, and enjoy their life outside of work. It helps employees feel valued when leaders encourage regular time off away from work, and the opposite is true when employees are consistently denied approval of their time-off requests.


Positive recognition improves employees’ perception of their role in the company. By recognizing a team member for their hard work and achievements through rewards or incentives, they are more likely to feel engaged and motivated to continue doing a great job. Everyone wants to be appreciated for accomplishments and contributions. Even a simple “thank you” now and then helps fill an employee’s morale bucket. Tangible rewards are alway fun, too, where possible.

Growth Opportunities

With few exceptions, most employees want to feel like they are growing rather than being held back from achieving their professional goals. Leaders can help employees advance their careers through in-house learning and development offerings. Succession planning helps to keep employees engaged as they upskill for their next promotion. Without opportunities for growth, employees will find reason to look for those opportunities elsewhere.

How to Measure Employee Morale

Regularly measuring employee morale helps leaders see whether or not changes need to be made and what those changes should be. Building a culture of candid communication where employees feel comfortable sharing about their experience at work is vital, whether the feedback is positive or negative. Regular one-on-one check-ins between managers and employees, town hall meetings across departments or the entire company, and even exit interviews may allow team members to speak freely without fear of being reprimanded. Let’s look at five ways to measure morale.

Engagement Surveys

An engagement survey measures the connection employees have toward their work, team, and organization and takes a look at the factors that influence it.

Focus Groups

Leaders, managers, and human resources professionals may conduct small group interviews to learn employees' reactions to specific questions concerning their feelings in the workplace.

Stay Interviews

Stay interviews are conducted to help managers understand why employees remain employed with the company and what might cause them to leave. In effective stay interviews, employees are asked standard, structured questions in a casual and conversational manner, often about their experiences and thoughts surrounding company benefits and compensation.


In observation, evaluators observe employees at work and record their behavior, attitudes, sentiments, and feelings about the organization, manager, or team members. Comparing the observations of two or more periods may show changes in the behavior and attitude of employees, indicating high or low morale. Company records and reports leaders may also take a look at factors such as absenteeism, labor turnover, fluctuations in production and sales, quality records, waste and scrap amounts, training records, accident rates, and grievances over a period of time to determine whether morale is high or low.

Tips for Boosting Employee Morale

The greatest cause of a workplace engagement program’s failure may be that it is widely considered “an HR thing.” It is not owned by leaders, expected of managers, nor understood by front-line employees. Leaders who integrate engagement into their day-to-day management strategy will find higher levels of employee morale. Here are some tips for improving employee morale.

Provide Personal and Professional Development

People want to grow as individuals by learning and developing new skills. Formal training and opportunities to stretch outside comfort zones will help employees to grow and be ready for that next big promotion.

Prioritize Work/Life Harmony (Balance)

Healthy work/life harmony means ensuring employees have enough time for personal leisure and to spend with their loved ones. By setting clear and achievable goals for employees and giving them ample time to complete goals, burnout is prevented and productivity increases.

Establish Better Channels of Communication

Without clear communication in a company or in a team, employees begin to worry about the future of their jobs or careers. Clear communication is especially important for companies operating remote or hybrid office models. When employees are left to guess the message leaders intended to get across with vague communications, the rumor mill becomes rampant, negatively affecting employee morale across the company.

Ask for Feedback

Asking for feedback gives employees an opportunity to voice concerns about their job, their leaders, or the company. It also gives insight into what leaders and the company can do better. It gives employees the chance to provide input on projects and policies that affect their daily work life.
Angela Stewart, SHRM-CP

Angela Stewart, SHRM-CP

Angela is an HR long-timer who is passionate about company culture, HR branding, managing workplace relationships, and creating meaningful total rewards. She wouldn't work in any other field simply for her love to interface on the daily with the people who make companies successful!
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Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
360 Review
9 Box Talent Review
Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)
Employee Disengagement
Employee Engagement
Employee Evaluation
Employee Monitoring
Employee Productivity
Extrinsic Motivation
Graphic Rating Scale
Intrinsic Motivation
Motivational Interviewing in the Workplace
Multi-Rater Feedback
Organizational Development (OD)
Performance Improvement Plans
Performance Management
Performance Review
Quiet Firing
Quiet Quitting
SBI Feedback
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