Talent Engagement

Unlocking the Morale Issue

Drew Stevens, PhD.
Contributor: Drew Stevens, PhD.
Posted: 10/27/2010

One of the biggest issues that stunt growth for any organization large or small is worker productivity. With economic volatility currently impacting profits, productivity issues can tip firms over the brink of zero margins.

The rationale for not attending to the productivity issue is that senior officers and human resources personnel are too busy, lack the funds and lack time to focus on it. However, deferring the issue only brings about added workforce stress.

Unlocking the morale issue is critical because:

It leads to lower attrition – The concern is not just a loss of individuals, it is brain drain: the loss of knowledge that is imperative in a knowledge-based economy.

It leads to less infighting – When the culture is more collaborative and there is internal customer service, more initiatives get completed on time and on budget. Exemplars include Zappos, Best Buy and FedEx.

It leads to proper hiring – Great production stems from having the right individuals fully engaged on the team. In 2007 Gallup estimated that 22 million actively disengaged employees cost the American economy as much as $350 billion dollars per year in absenteeism, illness, and other problems.

Many workers who survived layoffs are now seeking new opportunities. They are tired of lower wages, doing more with less and a antagonistic organizational culture. According to a March 2010 study from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employees are voluntarily leaving jobs at a larger pace than terminations.

Replacing a manager costs an average of 2.5 times salary, and 2 times compensation, according to the survey of 262 companies by OL Partners.

Here are some low-cost recommendations to rectify the morale and worker productivity issues in your organization.

1. Constant Communication – Research on worker productivity for over 20 years states the importance of employer/employee relationships. Individuals do not leave companies; they leave poor managers. Relationships begin with simple and direct communication. Morale will fail when managers fail to communicate with their employees. Take the time to know who is on your team.

2. Crucial Confrontation – The inability to confront individuals about performance has undermined organizational performance. Morale diminishes when underperforming employees continually diminish performance. It is important for managers to confront employees who do not meet expectations.

3. Focus on Feedback – Confrontation begins with feedback. It must be timely, candid and accurate. This includes both good and bad feedback. Catch employees doing something good and tell them; need something corrected, tell them.

4. Create Collaboration – Employees respond better when they are part of the organizational process. They desire to be a part of the process and have a voice. Luis Arzua (the last Chilean miner to leave the mine) took control from underground, and asked each trapped miner to contribute to the health and wellness of the team. Every man had a part in the rescue. Each added to the relationships, best practices and most importantly survival! It is simply a matter of placing the best individuals in the proper positions; everything else simply falls into place.

5. Remember to Reward and Recognize – Each week employees invest over 50 to 60 hours of their waking life for organizations. Money is not the alternative for reward. Individuals desire recognition for good work. They are more apt to remember compliments and commendations then a one percent raise the previous year.

Organizations are in a battle for survival not only from recessionary issues but from worker morale and productivity. Now is not the time to avoid the issue but to focus on it.

How does your organization deal with worker productivity issues? Do you have succinct stories or best practices you can share? Provide a quick comment below.

Drew Stevens, PhD.
Contributor: Drew Stevens, PhD.
Posted: 10/27/2010