Factors That Can Decrease Employee Morale

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Here’s the thing.

Not every employee will step into their workplace with a spring in their step. 

Unlike Snow White, not every employee will whistle while they work. 

However, employees should experience some modicum of happiness while they’re working. Coming to work shouldn’t be a chore, even if the jobs they have to do are complicated.

They should be glad to work each day, with a can-do attitude and not an attitude that screams: I CAN’T BE BOTHERED!

But as we all know, the latter can be true, and low morale can be the cause. There are lots of reasons for this and some of them will be discussed in this article. 

So, if you’re a business owner, consider your employees today. They might not be whistling while they are working but they should at least be happy to be at work. If they’re not, it might be that they have low morale. 

Signs of low morale can include:

  • Physical signs, such as slumped shoulders and a weary face
  • Missed deadlines
  • Low engagement in meetings
  • More sick days than usual
  • A drop in productivity

Can you relate to any of these signs in your workplace? If so, let’s consider the possible reasons why. When you know the ‘why,’ you will then have the opportunity to improve employee morale. You will then see a positive change, both in your employees’ behavior and the corresponding improvements in your business. 

Factors That Can Decrease Employee Morale

#1: No room for professional development

When your employees don’t have the opportunity to grow, they will start to feel stagnant. They will question why they are in their job, especially if they have a desire to progress in their particular career. This is one reason why employee retention rates are low in some companies, as to find opportunities for development, employees will often move onto a new employee.

As an employer, there is much you can do in aid of your employees’ professional development. You can provide the training courses that will help them excel in their jobs. You can send them to industry conferences to further their learning. And you can provide opportunities for promotion when they have reached certain milestones. 

When your employees are allowed to develop, they will naturally feel happier and more satisfied. So, think about this if you have done little for your employees thus far, as they might be gathering their belongings at this very moment and heading out of your front door!

#2: A toxic work environment

Nobody wants to work in a workplace with a toxic atmosphere. We aren’t talking about a gas leak in your building, of course. Rather, we are talking about the people who can make your workplace an unwelcoming place to be. 

The first thing that will probably come to your mind is workplace bullying. If there are people in your workplace who ridicule others, talk behind their back, and show other signs of bullying, then it’s understandable if certain employees suffer low morale. This is especially true if you don’t do anything to deal with workplace bullying. As a responsible employer, you need to workshop bullying behaviors, draw up anti-bullying policies, and enforce your policies should employees step out of line. 

Bullying isn’t the only reason for a toxic work environment. Instances of gossip, even when not work-related, can cause toxicity. So too can negative feelings towards management. For the sake of employee morale, you should gather feedback from your employees regularly, and take steps to manage anything that is souring the workplace atmosphere. 

#3: You!

How can you decrease employee morale? Well, if you don’t listen to your employees when they come to you with ideas or concerns, you can affect the way they are feeling. If you unfairly criticize them behind closed doors or in front of others, you can also damage their morale. And if you’re making the wrong decisions in your business, your employees will experience low morale because of a lack of trust in you. 

Of course, you’re not perfect so you will make mistakes. However, you should do what you can to be a better leader. You should be constructive within your criticisms and offer advice instead of words that could belittle others. You should listen to your employees at meetings, be that when in a group or when communicating with them 1:1. And if you are unsure about the way forward in your business, you should seek the advice of select employees instead of blundering ahead with bad choices.

So, think about the role you have to play in regard to employee morale. Are you building them up? Or are you knocking your employees down?

#4: A drab work environment

If your employees are having to face a drab work environment each day, it’s understandable that they might experience low morale. This is because their mood will automatically drop if their surroundings don’t stimulate them. And it’s also because they will be frustrated at the lack of effort that has been shown to improve the environment they work within. 

Thankfully, a fresh lick of paint can work wonders, especially in relation to those colors that can elevate the mood of your employees. Check this article for more on that. You can also give your employees the freedom to personalize their workspaces, with photos, posters, and various other items that will enhance their environments. And the inclusions of plants, works of art, and the wall decor that can be found here can also make a difference. 

So, don’t assume you have to go for a full-on renovation to improve your employees’ work environment, although it is worth your while researching office fitouts if you do have the funds. Instead, do whatever your budget will allow and give your employees some freedom to create their own surroundings. Productivity and morale will increase if you do.

#5: A lack of recognition

We all like to be recognized for the things we do well, so apply this to your employees. When they meet targets, gain new clients for your business, or simply work hard in any given week, reward them!

You might think a pay packet is reward enough but your employees will appreciate it if you can do a little bit more for them. A cash bonus is a start, although you could treat your employees to meals out or weekends away if they regularly perform well. There are individual gifts you could offer too, including gift cards, subscription memberships, sweet treats, and more. 

Of course, you don’t need to spend money at all. Simply saying ‘thank you’ is enough, and you could recognize your employees in your company magazine and newsletters. 

Here are some other ideas for rewarding your employees, so do whatever makes sense in your business. 

#6: Inefficient tools

If your employees don’t have the best tools for the jobs they have to do, they aren’t going to be very efficient. They might be more unproductive than they could be, and they could be prone to making mistakes. 

When they struggle to work well because of the tools at their disposal, their morale will start to slide. So, think about what your employees need on a daily basis. Provide them with the technologies and pieces of equipment that will aid them in their work and give them a fighting chance to succeed. By doing so, their self-esteem will rise in tandem with their morale.


Low morale equals low profits, as your employees won’t work to the best of their ability if they struggle in your workplace. 

So, consider all that we have said here, make changes where you can, and benefit from the improved morale that your employees should experience. 


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