Employee Morale | 10 mins read

An Objective Look at Employee Morale

an objective look at employee morale
Mary Kate Morrow

By Mary Kate Morrow

What is Employee Morale?

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Employee morale is the comprehensive outlook that an employee has towards their workplace. Both employee satisfaction and employee engagement are important factors to consider when evaluating employee morale at work.

High morale in the workplace is an invaluable accomplishment for any business. Not only are high morale employees more likely to produce hard work but they can boost employee morale on a wider company culture level.

Keeping employee morale high makes your business a place that employees want to work for. Top talent candidates are more likely to apply and join your staff if your company culture and work environment is motivating and positive.

A workplace with high morale is attractive to both potential new hires and to existing team members on staff. Boosting employee morale can lead to higher retention rates and increased bottom line profitability.

The Difference Between Morale and Job Satisfaction

Although they are related there are notable differences between employee morale and job satisfaction. In order to better understand the difference between these two terms, we must first define job satisfaction.

Job satisfaction is defined as the fulfillment an employee derives from their role at a business. Employee morale is generally more dependent on the specific organization or business a person works for.

Employee morale is greatly affected by management staff members. Management must possess strong leadership and communication skills. Management communication skills allow employee feedback to be given and received most effectively. When employees know their business values employee feedback morale is boosted.

Increasing employee feedback is as easy as instituting an open door policy with management staff members. Management's recognition of an employee's hard work is also important for employee morale.

Workplaces that care about their customers and providing a great work environment for their employees are those who have the highest morale levels. Alternatively, increasing employee satisfaction is more dependent on an employee feeling their job is both challenging and a great match for them.

Job satisfaction is generally more related to the specific role a person performs at a business. An employee can be highly satisfied with a job but still have low morale at their workplace. For example, an employee may love their role as a veterinarian but feel low morale towards the particular clinic they are currently employed at.

Although there are clear differences between job satisfaction and employee morale, the two terms do cross over quite frequently. One reason for this can be attributed to their correlation with one another, as many improvements that boost morale can boost job satisfaction, and vice versa.

What Makes a Job Satisfying?

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Every business wants to be a place that employees want to work. There are distinct characteristics of satisfying jobs including-

  1. A great boss- 50% of people that leave their job attribute their decision primarily to a bad boss. On the other hand, a great boss who is communicative and inspirational can positively influence job satisfaction rates.

    Employees want to have a positive relationship with their bosses. A boss who actively coaches and mentors their employees is more attractive to employees than one who solely oversees business operations.

    An open door policy is a great way to increase positive relationships between bosses and their employees. When employees feel encouraged to interact with their bosses they will likely have higher job satisfaction.

    Bosses need to maintain communication with not only their employees but also their higher-ups. For example, if a boss promises an employee a performance review and periodic raises, it is important they fulfill their promises, making sure that corporate approves well in advance.

  2. A great role- Beyond more traditional incentives such as salary and benefits, growth and opportunities are very important to employees. When employees receive promotions and recognition for their hard work they are much more likely to have higher satisfaction rates.

    Remote work and flexible work schedules can also help with overall job satisfaction. When employees feel trusted by their employer and management staff they are more productive and motivated.

  3. A great team- Whether you are a small business or a large corporation, positive employee interactions are crucial to employee satisfaction. Team members that work well together are much happier and less stressed.

    Alternatively, overly competitive and individualistic work environments breed conflict and distrust. Employees who enjoy working together have a competitive edge, stressing the need for team building in the workplace.

    A company culture and work environment that encourages collaboration and team outings help with team building. A result of outstanding team building is that work feels both engaging and rewarding.

How to Measure Morale

Measuring employee morale helps employers with performance management by allowing them to identify and help employees with lower morale levels. Consistent measuring of employee morale can also help businesses keep high morale employees on track.

There are many creative ways that employers measure employee morale. Various methods include-

  1. Open door policy- An open door policy promotes employee feedback and two-way communications. If there as an issue with a superior, an open door policy allows employees to go directly to their boss.

  2. Informal engagement- Instead of relying solely on official performance reviews, offer informal employee engagement consistently to employees. When employees feel they are able to come to you with their concerns they may indicate issues with morale before they develop into larger problems.

  3. Employee surveys- Regularly administered employee surveys are an excellent way to gauge how employees feel at your workplace. Encourage employees to be truthful and to take time to fill out their surveys comprehensively.

  4. Suggestion box- A suggestion box is a great supplement to employee surveys as they offer employees anonymity. Instead of worrying about the judgment or retaliation associated with surveys or group meetings, suggestion boxes allow for employee feedback that is unguarded and genuine.

How to Improve Employee Morale

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Thankfully there are many different methods that employers can use to boost employee morale in the workplace. Although boosting employee morale in the workplace is hard work it is well worth employers undertaking.

Methods to improve morale include-

1. Decrease emails- 92% of workers experience blood pressure and heart rate spikes after reading an email in the office. Eliminating unnecessary emails and using a collaboration platform improves employee morale.

2. Promotion opportunities- 40% of millennials expect to be promoted every 1-2 years. Growth and opportunities are especially important to the younger workforce.

3. Establish bonds- 78% of employees spend more time with their team members than their own family members. Creating and maintaining a bond is crucial to increasing morale including celebrating milestones and recognizing personal losses.

4. Increase incentives- Increasing vacation days, covering childcare costs, or large bonuses can boost employee morale. Sabbaticals, tuition reimbursements, and professional development opportunities are also great ways to boost morale long term.

Employee Morale and Motivation

There are various similarities and differences between employee morale and employee motivation in the workplace. While employee motivation is more specific to job responsbility completion, employee motivation is a more general outlook towards your business.

The ideal employee is motivated by high morale instead of incentives. A high morale employee is more likely to sustain their motivation long term. If employee motivation is dependent on a source of motivation such as a bonus, an employee may lose their motivation once they're received their incentive.

Short term employee motivation can be accomplished through incentives. However, lasting employee motivation is best accomplished by increasing employee morale.

What Causes Low Employee Morale?

Low morale can result in disastrous consequences for your business, ranging from high turnover to a decrease in hard work performed by employees. Various causes of low employee morale range from micromanaging to an insufficient employee work life balance.

Businesses that do not give employees the chance to grow or be promoted may continually struggle to improve employee morale. Perceived favoritism can also make employees feel less valued and cause issues between team members.

Employees work best when they are not micromanaged and when they feel their employers trust them. A high stress work environment can negatively affect your company culture and vice versa.

Make sure to take time to check in with employees for their feedback. When employee feedback is not requested or implemented by employers, low morale can result. Implementation of various employee feedback methods ranging from surveys to an open door policy can greatly boost morale.

Failure to create a healthy work life balance can be attributed to an inadequate performance management system. When an employee's work life balance is not ideal they are much more likely to come into work with low morale. Alternatively, high morale is equally contagious and can positively influence your work environment and company culture overall.

Why Does Employee Morale Matter?

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Boosting employee morale benefits not only your individual employees but also your entire business. There are various aspects of the employee experience to consider when an employer seeks to boost employee morale, including work life balance and productivity.

Employees who feel their employer provides a healthy work life balance are 21% more dedicated and productive. High stress levels and burnout are two factors that keep employee morale low and result in high turnover rates. Creating and maintaing a healthy work life balance combats both stress and burnout, keeping employees as happy and healthy as possible.

Employees who suffer from burnout are less productive and more likely to take sick days. The cost of paid sick days for employers is an estimated $160 billion annually, a large source of both financial and morale deplition.

25% of employees report their work did not provide an adequate work life balance and as a result they planned to quit within the next 24 months. In that same study, only 17% of employees reported their work had an adequate work life balance support system.

Although there is the assumption that working more hours makes a worker more productive, studies prove otherwise. One example is the shocking difference in productivity in relation to hours worked between Greece and Germany.

In Greece, employees work an average of 42 hours a week. In Germany, employees worked an average of 28 hours a week. German employees, working 14 hours less per week were actually found to be 70% more productive than their Greek counterparts!

Flexibility increases employee retention rates by 89%, which is crucial to consider when employee turnover costs are generally about 21% of an employee's annual salary. Although increasing and maintaining high employee morale may be difficult, it is well worth the benefits it provides both your employees and your business.


  • Improving employee morale should be a top priority for every performance management system. There are various methods for improving employee morale ranging from employee feedback to promotion opportunities.
  • While job satisfaction is more focused on the fufillment an employee receives from a specific role, employee morale is more dependent on the business itself.
  • When employees get recognition and positive feedback they are more likely to sustain higher morale.
  • Employee surveys and an open door policy can help with measuring employee morale.
  • Employee morale is more specific to an employee's outlook towards their business while employee motivation is more specific to completion of job responsibilities.
  • Consequences of not improving employee morale range from high turnover to toxic company culture and work environment formation.