Workplace morale is an issue across industries. Here we examine practices applied in the military to large companies like Johnson & Johnson and share our insights on the issue of employee morale.
What’s Workplace Morale?
According to Business Dictionary, workplace morale is defined as the “description of the emotions, attitude, satisfaction, and overall outlook of employees during their time in a workplace environment.” Essentially it boils down to how your employees feel and their life satisfaction. Good morale is proven to have a direct effect on overall productivity. Employees with high job satisfaction are believed to be a high-performing organization requisite.
- The U.S. Army spent $287 million in attempt to make troops more optimistic
- Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million over the past decade due to their wellness programs
These are just a few examples proving just how large organizations understand the necessity of health happiness when dealing with employees. Employee attitude can truly be the deciding factor between a flourishing business and lost profits, not just from a day to day standpoint, but in the long term as well.
The Science of Mental Health
Low morale not only hinders mental strength and performance, but it also takes its toll physiologically and psychologically.
According to studies published in the book, “Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements”, unhappy employees dreaded the work day and were twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression.
These employees were also at greater risk for heart disease, along with the myriad of other health issues that come with consistent levels of high stress such as high blood pressure and blood sugar, suppressed immune systems, and so on.
Moreover, financial stress among employees severely compromises morale in the workplace. Those living in financial stress have a myriad of health problems. Research shows that 1 in 4 Americans experience PTSD-like symptoms from financial stress. Inevitably, this catapults health care costs into unmanageable territories for both employees and employers, hindering overall engagement and workplace morale. This, ultimately, leads to high employee turnover rate.
Studies on Workplace Morale Tell All
Going back to the military, we can learn quite a few things about the importance of morale within organizations. When soldiers were surveyed (Brookings), it was found that 52% of soldiers scored low on questions that measured optimism, and 48% reported low satisfaction with their job.
Why was morale so low? The speculations vary and all likely play a part:
- Military Times polling data shows only 27% of troops believe their senior leadership has their “best interest at heart”, pointing towards a disconnect between leadership and troops, naturally lowering morale.
- A study conducted by the Center for Army Leadership reported that only 26% of Active Component leaders believed the Army was headed in “the right direction”, showing lack of faith, purpose, and trust.
Possibly the most telling statistic of all? A Military Times study found that the troops “feel underpaid, under-equipped and under-appreciated” due to military benefit cuts (a surefire way to devastate morale among soldiers and employees alike). Let’s look at other studies geared towards traditional workplaces:
- An Oxford Economics survey found that using cubicles in the workplace actually negatively affects job satisfaction, ultimately reducing productivity and engagement.
- University of Warwick conducted a study on 700+ participants which concluded happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity. (Mentioned, Google even rose employee satisfaction 37% by investing in employee support initiatives and various benefits.)
According to Ben Waber’s research, companies can increase productivity by up to 25% by making small changes such as overlapping lunch breaks and moving coffee stations.
Let’s Talk Solutions: What You Can Do Now
Considering what we’ve covered, it seems clear: Providing a healthy, positive work environment for those employed—whether a soldier or an employee in an office—is essential. But how? How can you cover all the bases, cultivating a happy work environment and offer the right benefits?
Here are 5 easy ways you can jumpstart boosting employee morale in your company today:
- Make sure your employees know they’re making a difference. It’s only human nature to lose motivation if you feel what you’re doing every day is meaningless. Frequently tell your employees the positive impact they’re making in the company and the world.
- Incorporate fun into the workplace to keep employees engaged. Throwing parties or finding creative ways to celebrate employee accomplishments improves happiness and engagement. Morale naturally increases when workers feel fond of their employer.
- Always promote/offer advancements within the company. Anyone who views their job as a dead end road isn’t going to feel satisfied in the workplace. If you’re able, show employees they’re always progressing by offering promotions for higher morale.
- Implement an awards program to congratulate high-performers. When workers are rewarded for great work, it makes them feel like a truly valued asset and offers a higher incentive to perform optimally. In turn, company loyalty and morale is increased.
- Offer a financial wellness benefit to relieve employee financial stress. The highest stressor for Americans today is lack of financial independence and stability. Offering employees a simple, fair financial benefit shows you truly care, increasing morale.
The solutions above can become a great morale booster for your employees.
With PayActiv, employers can offer a benefit which not only increases morale from showing employees they care about their well-being, but it provides a comprehensive solution to boost morale in all aspects of life. Offer employee financial wellness and high morale with PayActiv.
Check out the other posts in this series about Engagement, Retention and Retention Strategies.