Kenya: Staff morale is an integral part of the organisation’s success. It nurtures creativity, besides creating a positive attitude and outlook in the work place. The outcome is improved performance and the ability to attract and retain the best.
This often touches on the employee feelings and emotions towards the job, work environment, team members, managers and the organisation. Positive employee morale exhibited by confidence, discipline and willingness to perform impacts heavily on company profits.
While productivity and financial competitiveness are measurable and affect organisational objectives, disengaged employees are costly to the economy, running into millions in lost productivity including absenteeism, illness and other low-morale issues.
Lack of morale stifles and lowers productivity. It dumps a company’s improved projected growth as the cost of talent retention, recruiting, and training is too high to bear.
University of Nairobi Management Science lecturer Magutu Obara attributes low staff morale to absence of motivational factors at the work place. “Majority of corporations fail to recognise their star performers through motivational factors such recognition for merit and lack of promotion to improve career progression,” he told Jobs and Careers.
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“In its place are employees who just report to work to be seen but are busybodies at the workplace who in most cases have switched off their minds from work to other things.”
However, studies indicate boosting staff morale is one of the most inexpensive investments as the returns are attractive.
According to the Warwick Business School, a happy employee improves productivity by about 12 per cent. For example, asking your employees what motivates them does not require any budget but can help you understand them better.
Joy Powers offers that to boost employee morale, give the employees responsibility. “All your employees can point out inefficiencies in your organisation, but not all feel empowered to do so,” he says.
Magutu urges companies to work closely with employees to set targets and explore ways on how to achieve them. The targets to be accomplished will guide them on what is expected of them at the office aspire to achieve them and after achieving these targets, they need to be appreciated.
Victor Vroom of the Yale School of Management suggests that the better the outcome, the higher staff the morale, calling for the need for organisations to relate rewards directly to performance. “Ensure that the rewards provided are those rewards deserved and wanted by the recipients,” he says.
The worst scenario is when underachievers get promoted at the expense of high performers. “Unfair promotions kill staff morale and this should not be encouraged in the workplace,” he advised, adding that companies need to have open communication.
Having dialogue with introverts in the company through communication also boosts their morale while lack of effective communication retards the progress.
“Getting to understand staff will inspire them to be more innovative, disciplined and confident and this will improve their productivity and eventually their contribution to the company,” argues Obara.
Nairobi-based human resource consultant Mary Mwaniki opines that it is the onus of the senior management to boost morale among employees. She states that high morale is often times influenced from top down rather than bottom up. “To start open dialogue starts from the top management in addressing some sticky issues and not the other way round,” she noted.
“In case open dialogue is prohibited, it leads to employee distrust, disrespect towards management and reductions of morale and workforce motivation,” Mwaniki said.
“With this are less engaged teams whose contribution is dismal and less customer-focused, they can easily withdraw their efforts and adopt counter-productive behaviour.”
The outcome of a favourable performance will result in a desirable reward, whose outcome satisfies staff needs enough to make the effort worthwhile.