Here’s what’s crushing team morale in your company

A quick summary:

  • Team morale meaning
  • Reasons for poor team morale in the workplace
  • How to rebuild team morale
  • A final note on the topic of team morale
  • Choosing Heka to create healthier, happier employees!

Team morale often goes overlooked. What a lot of leaders fail to realise is how influential — and detrimental — it can be to business success. Team morale is responsible for building happier, healthier employees, retaining your talent and so much more.

Morale is important in many circumstances in life. From sports events to startups, morale is the ingredient to energise people to push forward and strive for success.

Team morale has also become a hot topic in recent years. With more of us working remotely or on a hybrid basis, there’s a new bridge to build — and cross — if leaders are to cement high team morale in their organisation.

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of reasons why team morale can suffer. Identifying all of them would take a lifetime, so in this article, we’re exploring the key red flags.

There’s also a worrying truth about team morale. You see, it isn’t something that progressively worsens. One single negative occurrence, say an unhappy employee who is vocal about their dislike for management, is enough to crush team morale.

It’s safe to say, team morale is significant in the modern workplace. A staggering 71% of executives say employee engagement is critical to company success; and as a lot of us know employee engagement is the remedy for low morale.

In this team morale deep dive, we’re looking at the team morale meaning you should know about, before exploring several reasons why your company suffers from low morale. We’ll then turn our attention to how to rebuild team morale, how to measure staff morale and round up our final thoughts.

Grab a coffee, a notepad and a pen, and get ready!

Two employees looking at a laptop in a café
Team morale meaning

Team morale meaning

So, you’re looking for a team morale meaning? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Like any guide of ours here at Heka, things just aren’t complete without a solid definition.

To put it simply, team morale refers to a combination of enthusiasm, optimism and excitement amongst employees as they strive to achieve specific business goals. It is the overall atmosphere of an office and can have a direct impact on company culture.

That’s not all, a positive and inspired workforce, i.e healthy team morale can have a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. Think about it, if your employees are happier and can collaborate and communicate with one another more effectively, performance and productivity may flourish.

With high team morale comes increased productivity, performance and the ability to collaborate effectively. Of course, as a leader, it’s your duty and responsibility to play a pivotal role in this, but it’s also about how motivated and inspired people feel in the workplace.

But if we turn the tables, a low morale environment is obviously going to come with a ton of negative consequences. This could be in the form of toxic relationships between employees, a dislike for projects, a hatred for leadership and many other negative traits - It’s as serious as that!

And just as positive morale can provide a tangible ROI, negative morale can do just the opposite. I’m sure we needn’t spell that out!  

As we explained in the beginning, organisations must tread carefully around team morale. There are so many hazards that can send morale spiralling into despair. For many organisations, the ones fortunate enough to have hired great people, poor team morale is self-inflicted.

This means change must come from the top. Leaders must assess everything from leadership styles to cultural issues and more.

Team morale meaning summary

Let’s summarise exactly what team morale means in the workplace. Hopefully, this should give you a greater understanding as we approach the following topics later on in this article.

  • Team morale is teamwide enthusiasm, optimism and excitement
  • It can positively impact company culture, profits, retention and more
  • It can negatively impact culture, profit, retention and relationships

A female employee working at a laptop and taking notes
Reasons for low team morale in the workplace

Reasons for problematic team morale in the workplace

Finally, we’ve reached an important point in this guide to team morale. We’re now going to look at the various reasons why your team’s happiness, drive and motivation in the workplace may have floundered.

Recommended read: The ultimate guide to employee retention

High staff turnover rates

We’ve all been there, where we’re trying to build relationships with colleagues by arranging social events outside of work, but there’s one problem… everybody keeps leaving the company. You question whether the work really is all that meaningful; whether people know something you don’t.

This scenario plays out in businesses all over the world. And while we might expect the worst about our employer and workplace, it’s usually the case of greener pastures.

After all, we all know how easy it is to jump from conclusion to conclusion and get carried away with rumours. It’s in these moments that team morale takes a kick to the stomach.

Once isn’t a problem, but a constant flow of employees isn’t sustainable for company culture or business goals — and most obviously, team morale. Managers don’t want to spend their waking hours training new starters and team members just want exactly that, a team.

If these changes are happening on a leadership level, then expect a lot more concern from employees. It’s a leader’s duty to ensure team morale remains high through the good and bad times.

It’s safe to say high turnover isn’t the best of moments. If these departures are leaders, it can leave the remaining employees with nobody to motivate and inspire them. That’s because team morale is something that C-level employees are responsible for.

High turnover begins to ask questions and starts conversations around who’s next and why? The best way to deal with turnover is by being transparent. Explain to colleagues why people have left. Don’t allow rumours to dictate the discussion in the office.

Secrecy is the enemy of great workplace relationships, healthy team morale and collaboration. If you want talented people to work in harmony, you must foster a culture of togetherness.

Problems at a leadership level

Assessing employee morale should be done by looking at those on a leadership level. After all, you can’t solely blame team members jumping ship as the cause of poor team morale.

It’s leaders who steer that ship into shark-infested waters that can be potentially worse. Some colleague relationships simply don’t work, and that’s just a part of life. In most cases, we can all remain civil despite our differences.

Many people, however, intentionally bring down an atmosphere and make their feelings known. This, in a nutshell, is how poor team morale is created.

It’s a leader’s responsibility to quell any employee conflicts. If you’ve noticed a number of employees complaining about another senior member of your team, it may be a red flag.

After all, culture is built by leadership, and any form of toxic behaviour will flow through the company and create a tsunami of problems.

As we’ve learnt, poor culture produces poor team morale, and it’s leaders who should boost team morale in their staff, not crush it to the core.

If you’ve noticed this very dilemma play out in your company, it is worth speaking with said senior colleague.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, ask another team member to have this conversation. Whilst difficult conversations are never enjoyable, the rut that is poor team morale is much harder to overcome.

Someone working at a laptop on Slack whilst scrolling on their phone
A lack of communication throughout your team

A lack of communication throughout your team

Communication in every sense is vital to great team morale. Failure to communicate your point of view, opinion, ideas or decisions can lead to horrendous outcomes.

As a leader, expectations need to be articulated and done so effectively. Yet, the reverse is also as important; employees should speak up if they don’t understand tasks and projects.

What’s more, poor explanations can lead to a breakdown in understanding. This could be the difference between great work and tasks being done incorrectly.

Managers should keep their requests clear and easily understood to avoid confusion. Going that one step further and ensuring everybody is on the same page is even better.  

In addition to work-related issues that arise from poor communication, employee wellbeing can also be hindered.

For some organisations, managers and employees aren’t encouraged to speak regularly about how they feel. Not just on an emotional level, but about their job or how satisfied they are.

Bottling up this negativity can cause an eruption of high turnover, conflict and toxic environments, creating a downward spiral for team morale.

Great managers make it their mission to understand how team members feel about work. Some even go as far as to host wellbeing meetings.

Asking people how they’ve felt this past week can truly make all the difference to team morale and happiness. It often feels like a weight has been lifted after discussing how we really feel.

Ask yourself, as a manager, when was the last time you discussed the happiness of your team? This isn’t something to beat yourself up over, but simply a gentle reminder to check in with your team every now and then — this, single-handedly, can improve team morale tenfold.

Finally, communication should be key to managing remote teams. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees have started working from home. This creates a whole new set of challenges, especially for team morale.

That said, modern technology provides ample tools for communication and collaboration, and companies should have very few hurdles to climb in reality. Take a look at Slack’s top five essential communication tools they suggest for businesses.

Just like the need for regular 1-2-1’s between managers and employees in the office, remote teams should also be taken into consideration. Managing remote teams effectively can be challenging at times, and communication is only one part of it.

But failure to communicate well, and you face isolating employees and damaging team morale in your company. Let’s be honest, communication issues can be rectified quite quickly.

Don’t let your team morale suffer at the hands of ignorance and neglect of relationships, communication and collaboration. If anything, leaders should recognise just how powerful a trio they can be when a strategy is put in place.

Poor brand reputation impacts team morale

Finally, let’s discuss brand reputation. In some cases, businesses suffer a poor reputation. This may occur through media, other times by the power of word-of-mouth or online reviews — and believe it or not, poor brand reputation does affect team morale.

Granted, team morale might not be the first concern of business leaders. It goes without saying that a poor reputation can dwindle investment, profits and general success.

Devastated team morale is just an additional kick to the teeth for businesses, and one that can have long-lasting effects, should the business stay afloat financially.

So, why does brand reputation matter when it comes to team morale? Well, too much negativity can see employees steer away from their association with your business.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll leave their jobs - people have bills to pay after all. This dissociation leads to low team morale among employees, who are less committed to their roles and the company’s mission.

Ultimately, people want to make a difference in life. It’s the results of a business that drives job satisfaction and the dedication to building something meaningful. Now, this isn’t to say your business isn’t creating something greatly positive.

But a storm of reviews and negative comments should be enough to assume something isn’t right. In the worst-case scenario, employees will jump ship in fear of being tarnished with the same brush; and we all know about the consequences of high turnover.

Clearly, a poor brand reputation can be vastly detrimental. Culture cannot be built in a team that doesn’t agree with what the business is doing. Likewise, people can’t give their all to a cause that generates only negative results.

If you want to build a successful business with high team morale, start with a product or service that customers love. Anything else is a recipe for disaster.

Talking about building things, how can you rebuild team morale? Let’s take a look at that in a little more detail, shall we?

A woman working in the early hours of the morning on her laptop
How to rebuild team morale

How to rebuild team morale

You’ve made it this far, and before you depart this article to search “how to rebuild team morale” let us help you instead! See, great leaders already know how to rebuild team morale. It begins with understanding how not to build it.

What we mean is, you must quiz employees and have deep, meaningful conversations with them to understand what the real issues are. Some employees may highlight a disgruntled colleague, and others might highlight a lack of opportunity or benefits.

In fact, one study found that 83% of employees with the opportunity to take on new challenges said they were much more likely to stay with the company.

It’s these conversations that will provide you with the solution. It’s like anything in life, a problem requires a solution, and data will get you there. Speaking to the source gives you a clear indication of your next move.

Don’t suffer through guesswork, use insights from your workforce… that’s how to rebuild team morale the right way! It’s also about learning lead. So many business owners consider themselves leaders, but are they really people-centric? That’s the question.

Leading a workforce the right way is a huge responsibility, and some people just aren’t cut out to guide workplace culture down the right path. If that’s not you, hand the responsibility over to your people ops team.

It’s worth noting that rebuilding team morale is no easy feat. Assuming your business is in a position of depleted team morale, there’s a big uphill battle about to commence. Not only are you starting on the wrong foot, but you’re also already a few moves from losing top talent.

Ultimately, if you’re wondering how to rebuild team morale, it must start by looking at other issues. There’s no single solution to team morale. Start also rebuilding your company culture, and your wellbeing strategy and morale will begin to improve.

Summary on how to rebuild team morale

Below, we’ve summarised some of the above and included some more ideas on how to improve team morale in your team. These ideas are all applicable to pretty much any team.

Painted hands in a heart shape by different employee in a company
A final note about team morale in the workplace

A final note about team morale

That’s all from us on team morale. Hopefully, the above guide gave you a better grasp on the concept, red flags and ways to rebuild the characteristic within your organisation.

Team morale is just one of many facets of a successful business. It’s also supported and affected by other outcomes. Is your wellbeing strategy effective enough? Are you offering opportunities to progress and develop? Is your leadership style people-focused?

These are all determinants of team morale. As you may have noticed by now team morale isn’t as straightforward as you might think. It takes time and resources. It’s about hiring the right people across the board who recognise the importance of culture and people management.

If you’re still looking to read more about the subject, we’ve written another piece on the key techniques to boost team morale in your organisation. There, we’ll learn how to measure it, improve it and really create healthier and happier teams.

An employee benefits platform to raise team morale

Employee benefits can play a huge role in improving staff morale. It’s through incentives and rewards that people feel a sense of achievement and recognition for their hard work. Yet, so many workplaces miss out on this opportunity.

Through Heka, employers are boosting team morale each month with a wellbeing allowance. This provides their people with the option to book and buy from thousands of healthy experiences, products and services.

That could be yoga classes, virtual therapy sessions, outdoor adventure activities and many more - the list certainly goes on - meaning employers can achieve a personalised benefits package once and for all.

By building a culture of health and wellbeing, companies are creating happier teams that thrive in the workplace. And as you can imagine, team morale is through the roof!

If you’d like to discuss the benefits of our wellbeing platform, book a demo with one of our wellbeing experts.

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