Employee morale in organisations

MAGGIE Kambai.

MCKNIGHT (2001) defines morale as the degree to which an employee feels good about his or her work and the working environment.
Morale could be looked at in terms of intrinsic motivation, job satisfaction, work meaningfulness, organisational commitment and work pride.
Employees’ low morale in most cases causes depression, aggression, anger, bad working attitudes, and this impacts negatively on an organisation. Most employees have little or nothing to add to the table to benefit the common man in society, and this affects development of the country.
What causes low morale among employees?
1) Too much bureaucracy hinders productivity, and in today’s dynamic society, it prevents innovation and creativeness from employees. This is because of its formal rules and regulations which are documented to ensure predictable behaviour. Considering the fact that morale is based on employees’ feelings, with too much rules and regulations, they become bored and work becomes too monotonous. They slowly stop living but just exist for the system.
2) Lack of opportunities for personal and career growth. Most employees further their education with the view that they would climb the ladder of success in their career when in reality there are no promotions. In terms of training and workshops, leaders only choose people with whom they are in favour and the rest suffer silently. With this, employees’ morale decreases. At the end of the day, staff report for work to just earn a salary with no satisfaction whatsoever.
3) Poor interpersonal relations between leaders and employees. Leaders cannot make things happen on their own. People should work as a team. Every individual’s effort is needed to fulfil most tasks at work. So, if there are poor relations between the leaders and employees, then how can they work as a team to bring about change? These poor relations stress and depress workers and, as a result, organisational growth is not achieved.
4) Poor working conditions: flexible contracts, understandable terms, healthy and safe workplaces, are a dream of every employee. People in most organisations risk their health and lives so as to get a pay and support their families. They do things without any positive motivation. Hence they work with a negative attitude and the result is chaotic.
What then should be done to boost morale in workplaces?
It is important for every organisation to not just care about products or services but to take some time to understand and take care of the employees, too. As the saying goes, ‘To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace’. Give the best to the employees and they will give the best to customers or clients.
Organisations should promote better relationships between the leaders and the employees and even amongst staff. When this is done, communication will improve and employees will be free to share their innovative ideas for the good of the organisation and nation at large. It also improves coordination in an organisation.
Motivating staff by acknowledging their input is another way of boosting their morale. Zambia celebrates Labour Day on May 1 every year. It’s a day when hard-working and deserving employees are awarded for their hard work and contribution to their respective organisations.
It is therefore important for organisations to continue awarding their staff as it encourages them to work hard and increase their care in producing quality services and products. It also gives employees the satisfaction and recognition.
Organisations should reduce office politics and promote transparency. Assign tasks and positions based on the qualifications of an employee rather than basing it on tribal or friendship ground. Give promotion where it’s due, not on the basis of who is in favour with management or the human resource management. This will result in a happier and cooperative workforce.
It is management’s duty to create a conducive environment for the employees. In most cases employees have the zeal to work but they lack what to use. In today‘s dynamic society, where technology has become a necessity for every organisation, it is imperative for the necessary tools to be put in place to support the workers. Workers’ health and safety should be considered too.
Herzberg’s two factor theory suggests two factors to help boost morale in organisations. These are the motivators and the hygiene factors. Motivators include: consider workers’ achievements, give them the right recognition, give them the right responsibility, help them advance and grow in the organisation. The hygiene factors include: better company policies, reasonable supervision, better relationships, good working conditions, good salaries and better security.
Morale is a complex issue that is caused by different factors. This issue has a bearing on the productivity of an organisation. Handling morale issues may need a significant amount of time and effort within an organisation. Every organisation should take time to understand how motivated or demotivated their workforce is and why. When morale issues are sorted, organisational growth is guaranteed.
The author is a librarian and blogger.

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