Most managers are keenly aware of what keeps employees engaged and happy: flexible schedules, praise and recognition, a relaxed work atmosphere, etc.
But just as there are things that you can do to keep the morale high, there are probably things that you are unwittingly doing that drag it down.
Here are five surefire ways to demoralize the troops:
1. Ignore underperformers. Just about all managers have an employee or two who operate on their own terms. They’re easy to spot, especially by the good workers. You can spot them too: They shun extra work or won’t pick up the pace when things get hectic. Ignore this at your peril. This becomes an inequitable-work-distribution thing that reflects on your ability to manage. Hard workers will sour fast.
2. Don’t tolerate errors. Though perfection be thy aim, don’t expect it. And what’s more, don’t punish workers who make mistakes. They will become a frightened lot, and scared people are not happy people.
3. Pay a new hire more than what everyone else is earning. Sometimes, to get the talent you want, you have to pay what the market dictates. And often, your long-timers’ salaries have not kept up with the market rates. Beware. If word leaks out (and it will) that the new hire is getting more money than the rest of the gang for doing the same work, you’ve struck a major morale nerve. A explanation on the theory of supply-and-demand and how it relates to the economics of labor will do no good. Employees will just believe they’re getting screwed.
4. Keep employees in the dark. Or worse yet, keep just some of the employees in the dark. Got company information that they ought to be aware of? Pass it along to everyone. Employees who feel they are out of the loop are out of the loop and quickly develop an “us vs. them” attitude. When this point is reached, it’s difficult to fix.
5. Take the workplace too seriously. Your inability or unwillingness to laugh at anything will have a profound effect on employee morale. Levity is the oxygen of the workplace. Don’t suffocate the staff.