Low morale can put a real drag on business and productivity. In today’s challenging economic climate, it's not uncommon to see colleagues competing for a single open position. The difficult part comes when a team consisting of a few great minds works incredibly well together, but one of those team members must be laid off when profits wane. All too often, that’s the reality, and it’s an unfortunate circumstance that leaves many formerly synergistic teams at odds, resulting in a significant lapse in productivity.
Knowing how to recognize and evaluate low employee morale is half the battle. As a small-business owner, it’s sometimes difficult to use conventional means designed for large corporations. But with a little ingenuity, you can quickly incorporate ways to evaluate employee morale. Here are a few scenarios:
Don’t be afraid to approach your employees. If you’ve created a culture of open communication and honest relationships with your employees, you should be able to simply ask for opinions on morale. Many will share their frustrations and may even offer potential solutions.
If you’re concerned that your employees won’t be honest, consider using an anonymous survey, often known as an “innerview,” to evaluate morale. Traditionally these are used in larger businesses where anonymity is easy to maintain due to the large number of participants. However, asking basic questions about team environment and work conditions may provide you with honest insights on the following:
Satisfaction with management
Feelings related to working conditions
Attitudes on pay, benefits and company perks
Walk In their Shoes
Take a day out of your schedule and get down on the front line with your staff. Answer the phone, talk with customers, work side-by-side with other employees to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day struggles facing your employees. Ask your managers to do the same and to report back with their findings on a regular basis.
Take a minute from time to time to read through the comments on various social media sites. You can use sites like Topsy to search for any mentions of your business’ name. If low morale is affecting your business, it’s possible your customers may feel the wrath. In today’s social world, a poor experience will spread like wildfire. Not only will you need to get a wrangle on internal systems that are failing, but you’ll need do some damage control as well. This means you’ll need to have a strong customer service protocol in place.
If you aren’t able to get a gauge of satisfaction from a Web search, ask your customers directly for feedback on their experience with your business either via Facebook and other social media channels or through in-store or online surveys. This feedback can be easily obtained using any number of online service providers which ask your customers to answer a few questions upon leaving your website or finalizing a purchase.
Look around; if you walk into a room and see sour faces or hear hushed whispers, understand that things probably aren’t as good as you’d like them to be. Take inventory of your own actions: Are you micromanaging your employees? Are you allowing sufficient opportunities for feedback and conversations? Are you providing an adequate working environment? Is the business thriving or struggling? What is your overall morale?
Once you establish the level of morale within your organization, you must boost it if it’s slipping. If morale is good, continue to cultivate and encourage workplace positivity and productivity.