A morale tale for business

A well motivated workforce is almost certain to perform better and have a positive effect upon the wellbeing of any company. But, how do businesses measure motivation and morale levels? We speak to Professor Roger Seifert from the University of Wolverhampton’s Management Research Centre to find out more.

 

How can a business measure the levels of motivation and morale among staff?

While it is fair to say that there is difficulty in the exact measurement of motivation and morale levels, there is a set of indicators that can be used to gauge such matters. These will include measurement of absentee rates, staff turnover rates, levels of sickness leave taken and incidents of lateness and poor performance. The general proposition is that the more motivated staff are and the higher the level of morale within the workforce, the lower the indicators will be.

Any sensible business should be seeking to address issues of high turnover and absence rates as they are expensive for any company and the rationale should be to try to reduce such levels and with it cost to the company.

Are bonuses effective in boosting morale?

Remuneration in the form of bonuses is, in many respects, a double-edged sword. Whilst it may highly motivate those who receive the bonus, others that do not will be questioning why they did not receive the same recognition – leading to a downward spiral of de-motivation and disengagement. In addition, once bonuses start to be paid they are very difficult to stop. An employee who has received a bonus for say three years in a row will not take kindly to a decision taken in the fourth year to withhold any bonus payment – whatever the reason behind the decision. A level of expectation will have been built up and when not met will, again, create the potential for disappointment and motivation issues.

How important is a clear career path?

Companies should not underestimate the positive impact that a thriving and pro-active culture of internal promotion can have. If employees feel career advancement is possible and promotion – even on a small scale– take place, it will demonstrate to staff that opportunity exists within the business. Equally important can be the influence of a staff promotion that is viewed as unwarranted or unfair. This too can de-motivate others and as such the consequences of any promotion activity need careful consideration at all stages. It is essential to deliver a fair and transparent recruitment policy as the arrival of a new member of staff can often have a profound impact on the existing employee group. The merits and abilities of the new recruit must be able to stand up to scrutiny by staff, as any realisation that the new member is less qualified, experienced or just inferior will raise questions in the minds of many about the direction the company is taking such as a move towards potential down-skilling. This will create concern and at the same time de-motivate.

What else can businesses do to make staff feel valued?

It is vital that the employee feels that his/her voice is heard by management. Ensuring, for example, that employee grievances are addressed without undue delay is important, it sends a clear message that the company takes staff feelings and their individual experience seriously. An open environment must be fostered to ensure that employees feel able and willing to express views or raise an issue without a prejudicial reaction. Creating such an atmosphere can only aid efforts around motivation and morale and communicate a message to staff from the organisation that they are important.

Tackling the four areas above does not require a link to increasing pay rates, or the need to implement a radical and expensive bonus structure to improve motivation. Thinking carefully and assessing the likely impact of actions to encourage opportunity, opening staff dialogue channels, or adding identified talent to existing personnel, can go a long way to maximising levels of employee motivation, engagement and performance.

 

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