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Posted on  |  Performance management

Bolster Employee Morale: Avoid These 10 Mistakes

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How employees feel about their job, their employer, and their future with the company can have a significant impact on productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. Here are 10 mistakes to avoid when you're looking to promote employee morale:

Mistake #1: Mixed messages.

Your workplace culture has a direct impact on employee morale, so review your policies and practices to make sure they accurately reflect the culture that you want to promote. For example, if compliance and ethics are important to the company, make sure you acknowledge when employees do the right thing and protect them from retaliation when they report issues.

Mistake #2: Relying on pay to drive job satisfaction.

Don't assume that just because you pay employees well that they are satisfied. Pay isn't the only driver of job satisfaction, and in some cases, may not even be the most important one. Many employees also value autonomy, a fair and equitable workplace, challenging work, recognition, flexibility, and a company's commitment to social responsibility. Find out what motivates your employees and develop policies, practices, and benefits accordingly.

Mistake #3: Pay disparities.

Make sure employees are paid fairly when compared with other employees in your company. Your pay practices must not discriminate on the basis of any protected characteristic, such as sex or race. In some cases, discrimination might be unintentional. For example, if an employer uses a candidate's pay history to decide how much to offer them, it could perpetuate pay discrimination from a previous employer. Note: Some jurisdictions prohibit employers from asking about pay history and/or relying on pay history to make pay decisions. Work with your legal counsel to audit your pay practices regularly to make sure any disparities in pay are justified and lawful.

Mistake #4: Lack of performance feedback.

When employees are recognized for positive performance, they are generally more motivated. Show employees that their efforts are appreciated through simple acts of praise. Many employers also conduct annual performance reviews to formally evaluate performance based upon previously agreed upon objectives. However, supervisors shouldn't rely solely on annual performance discussions. Provide performance feedback throughout the year through coaching and informal check-ins.

Mistake #5: One-way communication.

Give employees ample opportunities to provide feedback about your company, the work environment, and supervisors, without fear of retaliation. Consider conducting employee surveys regularly to assess how employees view their job and your company.

Mistake #6: Public discipline.

The point of a disciplinary meeting is to correct the problem, not to embarrass the employee. Hold disciplinary meetings in a private location, but consider having another company representative present as a witness. Inform the employee exactly what the problem is, how the issue is affecting the company, what steps they must take to correct it, and the consequences of failing to do so.

Mistake #7: Poor managers.

Managers play a critical role in hiring and motivating employees, enforcing rules, and promoting a fair and productive workplace. Have proper training, policies, and oversight in place to help your managers succeed. Set clear expectations and take appropriate corrective measures when a manager isn't meeting them.

Mistake #8: Inadequate responses to complaints.

The #metoo movement has demonstrated that in many cases, employers' responses to harassment complaints are inadequate. This not only harms victims, but also co-workers who witness or know about the harassment. Whether you receive a formal or informal harassment or other misconduct complaint, take it seriously, regardless of who is involved, and launch a prompt, impartial, and thorough investigation. Encourage employees to report issues before they become severe or pervasive and without fear of retaliation.

Mistake #9: Ignoring warning signs.

Warning signs that you may have a problem with employee morale may include an increase in turnover, a lack of employee referrals, an uptick in transfer requests, and sudden absenteeism or lower productivity. Track these key indicators and investigate the causes of any sudden changes.

Mistake #10: Taking a reactive-only approach.

Think about ways you can promote employee engagement proactively, such as offering flexible work arrangements, providing opportunities for professional development, giving employees stretch assignments, relaxing dress codes, or organizing team events. Tailor your efforts to employees' interests and your company's budget.


Employee satisfaction can have a major impact on business success, so make sure your company has an effective plan for assessing, tracking, and addressing employee morale.

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