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Monday, November 07, 2005

The Importance of Morale

People problems are often caused by poor morale in a company. We expect employees to provide a full day's work for a fair wage. That is the basic contract between employer and employee. When one side or the other fails to fulfill that contract, low morale and job dissatisfaction can be a result.

There may not be any fault on the part of the employer, but simply a perception by the employee that things are not fair. This perception can come about in many ways. Sometimes an employee will observe what they think is someone else getting a better deal, having more opportunities, or receiving better treatment from management. It doesn't really matter whether that is actually the case; the important thing is that the employee thinks it's true.

When employee morale is high, and staff are satisfied with their jobs, they can tolerate perceived discrepancies. They can work long hours without complaint, take disappointments in stride, support changes in the company, and maintain a positive attitude toward their workplace.

When morale slides, everything becomes more acute. Overtime becomes onerous, disappointments become discouraging, change becomes stressful, and a negative attitude takes over. Grumbling, complaining, gossiping, and increased absenteeism are signs of low morale.

Employee surveys, conducted across a variety of companies, continually reveal that meaningful work and the ability to control one's career are important criteria for satisfaction on the job. Money is often 7th or 8th on a list that includes work/life balance as a top-of-list item, as well as benefits, compensation (not always monetary) and recognition.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, areas that contribute to job satisfaction include good working relationships with immediate supervisors, management recognition of employee job performance, and effective communication between employees and senior management. Each of these factors are related to the corporate culture of the company as well as the established working conditions.

Good communication is your strongest tool for maintaining morale within your company. This ranges from one-to-one interactions between employees and supervisors, to company-wide communication about progress and future direction. Avoid employee misperceptions by practicing good communication techniques.

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