Employee Morale: The Ultimate Definition

Jan 18, 2023 | 0 comments

Unproductive, unhappy, zombie-like workers simply going through the motions – we all know low employee morale when we see it. However, recognizing it and knowing how to change, is entirely different. This ultimate definition takes you through all you need to know. We explore what is meant by employee morale, why it’s important, and the root causes. By the end of this post, you will have ten actionable tips to help you tackle the problem.

Employee Morale Definition

You’re leading a team at work, and you want to keep everyone motivated and productive. But how can managers or CEOs foster a sense of morale, productivity, and engagement among the team when the workplace is constantly evolving? It’s no secret that employee morale plays an integral role in company success — it’s what shapes culture and keeps employees happy, engaged, and ready to tackle any challenge thrown their way. So let’s get familiar with this concept by looking into its definition.

Employee morale is the outlook, satisfaction, and attitude of your people. It’s the vibe you get when you walk into a workplace. However, it’s not just about how a worker feels about the job. It also affects their approach to the job and how invested they are in the organization and its mission.

Put simply, employee morale is a measure of the attitude and satisfaction of employees in their workplace. This includes factors such as job satisfaction, commitment to their job, motivation to work hard, and willingness to go above and beyond. Understanding employee morale can help employers better understand their employees and make sure they are receiving the best possible work environment.

Why Is Employee Morale Important?

If your workplace has good employee morale, there’s nothing you can’t do. Employees are happy, motivated, and productive. They feel valued and have plenty of opportunities to grow. Everyone is harmoniously moving in the same direction towards a common goal.

When employee morale dips, the opposite occurs. Productivity dives, relationships are fraught, teamwork suffers, and employees burn out.

The bottom line is that poor morale has far-reaching consequences. Here are some of the headlines:

Employee Retention

Low employee morale drives staff out the door. Who wants to stay at a workplace with negative, unhappy vibes, where you feel undervalued and helpless? A positive, motivated workplace improves turnover and increases workers’ loyalty.


When it comes to performance, high employee morale works like a turbo charge. Staff are inspired to give their best every day.


It’s no surprise that enhanced performance, in turn, generates better productivity. Employees finish their work on time and to a high standard.

Worker Wellbeing

Employee wellness took on a new meaning during the pandemic. There’s now widespread recognition of the role responsible organizations must take to safeguard staff wellbeing. Companies with high morale experience less employee burnout as workplace stress is reduced. But did you know it also helps reduce workplace accidents?


When your people are in synch, great things happen. Motivated and excited, collaboration in high-morale workplaces generates innovation and creativity.



Harmonious workplace relationships simplify internal communications. Managers and co-workers are on the same page, supporting effective comms.

Employee Engagement

It’s impossible to engage with drone-like workers just going through the motions. High employee morale is the driving force behind employee engagement. And thanks to Gallup, we all know the significant impact engaged employees have on business outcomes.

How Do I Know If I Have A Problem?

It’s a fact: you are one step removed from your people as a manager or business owner. You may think you have your finger on the pulse. But the truth is you are not one of the gang. Here are some red flags to look out for.

Chronic Absenteeism

If large numbers of your people regularly skip work, low morale could be the root cause.

High Employee Turnover And Poor Retention

These common HR metrics can tell you a lot about employee morale. If more staff leave and you find it harder to hang on to top talent, poor morale could be to blame. Keep a close eye on what the data is telling you. And drill down to the department or team level to determine if there are pockets of low morale you should address.

Conflict At Work

Even in top-performing organizations, sometimes there are disagreements and misunderstandings. However, usually, these are resolved quickly. In companies with low employee morale, conflict rears its ugly head more often. Workers clashing with each other or managers become an everyday event.

Grumbling And Groaning

Teams with low employee morale have a persistent negative attitude. They will find plenty to whinge and moan about. Watch out for the team or individuals unwilling to cooperate with others or reluctant to take on new tasks.

Poor Performance

Missed deadlines, low-quality output, or increased mistakes are surefire signs of low morale.

Loss Of Income

If sales are dropping and the bottom line is taking a hit, it might not just be down to the economy. Low employee morale hits businesses where it matters most – profits.

Ask Staff

Many best-of-breed organizations use surveys and pulse checks to monitor employee morale. Anonymous surveys are an excellent tool for gathering feedback on how employees feel about their work. Even better, you can track your progress as you introduce changes.

What Are The Causes Of Low Employee Morale?

Often, there’s no single cause. Usually, it’s a complex mix of various factors that drag down the workplace vibe. Likely factors include the following:

Lack Of Growth

Workers that cannot see any career progression or personal development opportunities quickly become disengaged and unmotivated. Boredom sets in, and before you know it, disruption and conflict.

Leadership Problems

Here’s the deal: strong leadership is critical to employee morale. Your leaders need to understand how to get the best out of their people and model the right behaviors. Check out our blog Leadership Skills: 10 Great Tips To Keep Your Skills Sharp for what you need to know.

Change At The Top

Whether it’s a merger, acquisition, or new CEO, change at the top has a dramatic impact on morale. Often, it’s for the better. But sometimes, uncertainty, worries about the future, and job security dent confidence creating a downward spiral.

Poor Communication

Poor communication can have a huge impact on employee morale, company culture, and productivity. When the lines of communication are unclear or broken, employees are left to fill in the gaps with their own assumptions, which can lead to misunderstandings and low morale.

Poor communication can cause employees to feel undervalued or ignored. When employees do not receive clear instructions or feedback from management, it can lead to frustration, confusion, and a lack of motivation. This can eventually lead to diminished trust in leadership and a decrease in employee engagement. Poor communication also leads to dissatisfaction with managers and supervisors as well as feelings of insecurity about job security.

Improving communication is essential for keeping employee morale high and improving company culture. Clear expectations should be set by management so that everyone knows what is expected from them in terms of performance and behavior. Additionally, open dialogue should be encouraged between managers and employees so that issues can be addressed quickly before they become larger problems. Finally, recognition should be given when appropriate, as this will help build trust between leaders and their teams while also providing positive reinforcement for good work done by each individual employee.

Low morale can arise when your people don’t know what’s expected of them or are not in the loop.

Boosting Employee Morale

Whether you are a business owner, CEO, or manager, if your people’s mood is taking a deep dive, it’s time to act. The good news is that there are proven strategies you can implement to get back on track. 

Employee morale is essential for any business that wants to succeed in today’s competitive landscape. Taking the time to recognize achievements, provide opportunities for growth, and offer flexible working arrangements will go a long way towards fostering an environment where employees feel valued and engaged with their work—which in turn leads to greater productivity and success overall! By keeping the following ideas in mind, businesses can ensure that they’re doing all they can do to boost employee morale no matter what challenges come their way!

10 Boost Employee Morale Ideas

1. Invest In Professional Development

Give your people opportunities to grow. Training and development sharpen workers’ skills and knowledge to perform at their best. And that’s good news for any business. However, it also sends a strong signal about how much you value the workforce. To maintain high morale, staff need to feel valued and supported. Ensure every worker has a personalized growth plan.

And don’t forget about your leaders. As we have seen, managers are a vital driving force behind team morale. So, make sure your leaders know how to motivate and engage team members.

2. Recognize And Reward Workers

Make employee recognition an integral part of your workplace. From a pat on the back, shout out on team chat, or appreciation programs, recognizing and rewarding employees boosts morale.

3. Organize Team Building Activities

There’s a good reason why team-building activities have been around for decades. They work. Time spent away from desks brings people together and strengthens those all-important social bonds. If scavenger hunts and trivia quizzes are not your thing, how about hosting a summertime team meeting in the park? Or a shared team lunch? You may have to get creative to connect with any remote workers. Check out our blog, 9 Challenges In Team Building And Ways To Overcome Them, for more inspiration.

4. Encourage Feedback

Make feedback a regular part of your workplace. Drive morale by giving workers a voice and letting them know their views matter. Virtual suggestion boxes, pulse checks, surveys, Q&As, and open-door policies are all excellent tools. However, also ensure managers provide regular, constructive feedback to their team on performance. One-on-ones are the perfect vehicle for feeding back on performance and getting employees’ input on how the company can boost employee morale. However, your efforts will only succeed if you act on the feedback received. So, harvesting insights from your people aren’t enough. Be sure to let them know what’s happened as a result.

5. Provide Performance-Based Incentives

Workers will always welcome a performance bonus. Who doesn’t want a few extra dollars in their paycheck? However, also consider introducing a policy to promote from within before recruiting externally. Similarly, you can reward high-performing talent with mentorship programs or internal secondments.

6. Promote Employee Wellbeing

Your workers will feel happier and more valued if you take their overall wellbeing seriously. Health insurance, paid vacations and flexible schedules are the minimum expected by today’s workers. However, there are countless other wellbeing-related perks you can offer. If subsidized gym membership is too much, how about lunchtime yoga classes? Some businesses encourage walking one-to-one meetings, provide on-site health screenings or offer healthy workplace snacks. Look after your people’s physical and mental health, and you will also be raising morale.

 7. Invest In The Right Tools

Remove the potential for frustration and productivity barriers by investing in the latest industry tools and technology. There’s nothing more demoralizing than using outdated or slow tools and tech solutions. Invest in the right tools, and you will also be investing in employee morale.

8. Ensure Workers See The Big Picture

Your people want to know that their work has meaning and purpose. It’s a fundamental human need work should satisfy.

Managers should be able to show workers the big picture and why their position matters. Staff members’ professional goals must be aligned with the company mission. And effective internal communication means they are kept informed about company news.

When your people understand and care about where the organization is going, they will be more invested in its success.

9. Healthy Work-Life Balance

Our always-on lives make it hard for workers to switch off, especially remote ones. You can help by setting clear expectations. Some businesses have a policy of no work communications between 7 pm and 7 am. Evenings are for employees to relax, recharge and enjoy downtime with family and friends.

Other organizations actively encourage staff to take their full quota of vacation leave. And eating lunch at your desk is often banned. Instead, workers are encouraged to down tools and take a genuine lunch break.

A better work-life balance ensures your people come back refreshed and re-energized. And with an improved overall outlook.

10. Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction plays a major role in maintaining high levels of employee morale. Employees who are satisfied with their job tend to have higher morale because they feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. In addition, when employees are satisfied with their jobs, it helps them stay focused on tasks and goals, which leads to increased productivity.

Lastly, when an employee feels appreciated or recognized for their efforts, it encourages them to continue performing at a high level.

On the other hand, employees who are dissatisfied with their roles often lack the motivation necessary to do their best work. This can lead to decreased productivity and lower overall morale.

Dissatisfied employees may also begin looking elsewhere for employment opportunities if they don’t feel like they’re being treated fairly or if they don’t feel like they’re being given enough responsibility or recognition for the work that they do.

In order to ensure that your employees remain satisfied with their roles, it’s important to create an environment where everyone feels valued and appreciated. Provide regular feedback so that employees know what they’re doing well and what areas need improvement.

It’s also important to give your employees challenging tasks that allow them to learn new skills while still feeling supported throughout the process. Lastly, offering incentives such as bonuses or additional vacation time can help keep your team motivated and productive while also boosting morale by showing your appreciation for hard work or creativity.

Employee Mental Health

Mental health is an essential part of having a productive, successful workplace. Recent studies have found a direct connection between mental health and employee morale.

How can employers prioritize mental health in the workplace to ensure that their employees are engaged and motivated?

Mental health is an important factor when it comes to understanding employee morale. Studies have found that when employees are struggling with their mental health, they tend to be less engaged in their work and more likely to experience burnout or fatigue. This lack of engagement can lead to lower productivity and even higher rates of absenteeism, which can negatively impact overall team performance.

Fortunately, employers have the power to help promote positive mental health in the workplace by creating a supportive environment where employees feel safe to talk about their struggles. This could include offering access to mental health resources such as counseling services or providing onsite activities like yoga classes or meditation sessions.

Additionally, employers should do what they can to minimize stressors such as long hours or unrealistic deadlines that can contribute to poor mental health among employees.

Employee morale is directly linked to mental health—when one suffers, so does the other. It’s up to employers to prioritize positive mental health in the workplace by creating a supportive environment where employees feel safe discussing any issues they might have with their mental wellbeing.

Leaders must also set an example by leading with empathy and respect while actively working towards creating a more inclusive culture that embraces diversity across all levels of the organization.

By taking these steps, employers will be able to ensure that their teams stay motivated and engaged at all times!

Employee Morale: Main Messages

There’s a whole lot more to employee morale than just ping-pong tables and free lunches. Your people’s overall mood and outlook are impacted by much more than a few gimmicks.

Often fueled by poor leadership, communication problems, and lack of opportunity, low morale is a festering sore. It may start with grumblings and negativity before exploding into chronic absenteeism and outright conflict. Before you know it, performance and productivity have dropped through the floor, affecting your bottom line.

Contrast that scenario with a high-morale workplace. Here staff are happy, motivated, and ready to go the extra mile. They understand the organization’s direction and are fully invested in its success. Performance and productivity have never been better. And your company brand is at an all-time high.

We may have painted a picture of two extremes. However, it illustrates the significant impact employee morale has on every business.

If morale is starting to slide in your team, then the time to act is now. Use our ten proven strategies to stop the rot before it takes hold.

Boost Morale Additional Reading

Here are some helpful additional resources on the topic of improving employee morale.

How To Motivate Employees: 10 Proven Ways to Reignite The Passion

Employee Appreciation: 10 Budget-Friendly Ways To Show Your Team Some Love

Company Culture: Definition, Drivers and Best Practice Examples

How To Build Trust In A Team: 10 Proven Strategies That Work

10 Ways to Boost Company Morale

How To Boost Workplace Morale At Your Business

3 Signs of Low Employee Morale and How to Meet the Challenge

145 Digital Transformation Statistics You Need To Know

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