Employee Morale And Motivation | 4 mins read

Understanding the Relationship Between Employee Morale and Motivation

understanding the relationship between employee morale and motivation
Dakota Sheetz

By Dakota Sheetz

Employee morale and motivation remain a central concern in the food business which has one of the highest turnover rates across industries. The issue of motivation is more salient now due to changes in work setup and dynamics due to COVID-19. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review found that remote work reduces motivation by as much as 17 points.

Businesses experiencing high staff turnover and low productivity likely suffer from low morale and motivation. While employee morale is associated with a positive attitude, motivation is about putting in the effort to achieve a goal. Knowing the distinction between motivation and morale in relation to productivity will help boost employee morale and your business achieve success.

Motivation vs Morale

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Morale refers to the overall satisfaction you get from your job, including your colleagues, superiors, the environment, and the organization in general.

This mental condition in turn determines your attitude at work. High morale or positive morale is characterized by confidence, discipline, and enthusiasm.

Positive morale can lead to improved employee engagement and better teamwork, greater commitment as well as a sense of belongingness to the organization, quicker conflict resolution, and a healthier, safer environment for everyone. High morale also makes it easier to motivate employees and improve their performance.

Meanwhile, low morale is characterized by a lack of interest in the job. This usually happens when employees feel unappreciated for their efforts and can lead to absenteeism and high employee turnover. Lack of employee recognition in the workplace can be very damaging to overall morale.

Some of the factors that can contribute to low morale are improper work life balance or unfair compensation, lack of job security, and lack of communication between management and staff.

Low morale in the workplace can cause low employee engagement and lead to greater grievances, more conflicts, dissatisfaction, a toxic working environment, reduced productivity, and lack of motivation.

Motivation is the process that spurs us into action. Employees work better when they are motivated. It is the driving force and source of our goal-oriented actions. Motivated employees want to go above and beyond their job descriptions and instructions by working more hours or adding more value to their output.

There are two sources of motivation- internal and external. Internal motivation means finding satisfaction in the job itself, while external motivation refers to behavior driven by reasons or rewards outside of your work (e.g. money or promotion).

The former is more beneficial to your business since employees with internal motivation usually provide more positive work and have high morale. In contrast, employees motivated by a bonus may stop performing once they receive the reward.

Therefore, motivation and morale go hand in hand. Motivated employees may be more productive, but this cannot be sustained if morale is low.

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The Differences Between Motivation and Morale

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Employee morale and motivation are often used in tandem, but there are key differences that can help you identify which areas to help your organization sustain high performance.

Motivation is Personal, Morale is Social
Employee motivation happens on an individual level. It is an internal, psychological process that influences how we behave. Morale, on the other hand, happens on a group level. It refers to the collective mental and emotional condition of employees.

Since motivation is an individual concept, you need to consider individual differences when crafting ways to boost employee motivation. Meanwhile, to increase morale you need to make sure to understand those differences and how they can affect workplace dynamics.

Motivation Improves Performance, Morale Does Not
While high motivation can result in high morale for employees, the reverse is not necessarily true. Specifically, motivated employees may help improve employee morale in the workplace because they help keep things running smoothly. However, a positive attitude towards work does not lead to high performance.

Motivation Comes First, Morale Second
As mentioned, improving employee motivation should be a primary concern for businesses because it can lead to higher productivity and may even boost employee morale in the workplace. On the other hand, morale does not necessarily lead to better performance.

However, just because morale is secondary, it should not be taken for granted. Motivation may increase efficiency in the short term, but morale among employees ensures long-term productivity.

Key Takeaways

  • Low employee motivation and morale are often the culprits behind high staff turnover and low productivity.
  • Morale determines your attitude based on how satisfied you are with the overall work environment, including your tasks, interactions with colleagues and superiors, and the organization in general.
  • High morale or positive morale is characterized by confidence, discipline, and enthusiasm. Low morale is characterized by a lack of interest in the job.
  • Motivation is the driving force and source of goal-oriented actions. Motivated employees are better at their decision making overall, more efficient and more productive.
  • Internal motivation comes from the satisfaction derived from the job itself, while external motivation refers to factors outside of the work itself (e.g. a raise or promotion) that can improve employee productivity.
  • Motivation is based on an individual level, while morale is gauged as a group.
  • Motivation can lead to better performance, but high morale does not automatically lead to increased productivity.
  • Make sure improving employee motivation is a primary concern in businesses, while morale comes second.
  • Motivation may increase efficiency in the short term, but morale among employees ensures long-term productivity.

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