Morale and Motivation in the Workplace

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How Motivation and Morale Affects Productivity in the Workplace

Coming from a military background morale and motivation were 2 key words that were ingrained in my head day after day while in serving in the armed forces. The command and control leadership style used fear of punishment for not performing your job vs. awards and recognition for doing it right. Even though my leadership always talked about change and ways to improve, morale and motivation were always issues. Organizations have goals whether it be the countries defense or to grow and make profit for its owners and shareholders. However none of these goals can be achieved by ordering people to do what we want. In the military this approach might have worked for short term goals, but over time it can destroy morale and stifle motivation in the workplace. Experience has shown that helping people realize their full potential can lead to attaining goals that would be impossible to reach under a command and control leadership style. Recent surveys have found that employee motivation is sagging throughout the world and morale has fallen at almost half of all companies (Quast, 2011). In order to successfully motivate your workforce you must first focus on overall morale. Morale can be defined as an attitude or emotional state of a person or a group of people (Lee, 2004). When you have low morale you come to work thinking your job is boring and monotonous. Your behavior directly affects your productivity and indirectly affects your peers as well. When your morale is high you come to work on time, your productivity is high, and motivated easily to boost production for your department and your business. There are a lot of successful ways to boost morale. One of my previous employers used to provide free sodas, candy, tea, and coffee in all the break rooms. Even though this was something minor it made the employees feel like they were liked and respected and each day we started work in a good mood (and full of sugar and caffeine). Another program was to recognize each employee on their birthday month and is given the opportunity to have lunch with the CEO and to ask questions and provide feedback. When you are in a company with over 60,000 employees having the chance to sit down and have lunch with your CEO is a rare opportunity. Another highly successful approach to improving morale is to conduct employee satisfaction surveys. In order to find out what factors might be affecting morale you have to listen to your employees and get honest feedback without the fear of recourse. This is usually done by a third party that protects the employee’s identity and collects and reports the findings to each manager or department. Managers have to take the survey responses seriously and address any issues that may be uncovered in order to prevent losing talented workers for good. Once solutions are implemented you must have a means to measure your progress, so follow-up surveys need to become a cyclical process. A few other affective ways to improve morale is getting to know your employees better and volunteering for community projects as a department or team. If you take the time to get to know each of your employees on a personal level you will come across as more caring and authentic manager. Don’t always jump directly into work when they come in the office, ask about their spouses, kids sports games, activities over the weekend, etc. If you get to know them on a personal level they feel like you are interesting in them and they are not just another number. From time to time it’s also good to get your employees out of the office for some team building and community service events. Getting out of the office environment during work hours boosts your employee’s morale and lets them get to know each other better and at the same time doing good things for the community. You develop relationships and stories that you can share years down the road. Once...
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