Most of us recognize good or bad morale when we see it, but what is morale made of? It's a combination of attitudes that employees hold about their jobs, their workplaces, their managers, and the rewards they receive. That's why you can encounter many different "attitude problems" in the same employee.
To promote good morale, you need to offer specific remedies for each of these complaints. Here's a sampling:
- "This is a dumb job." Offer your employees the opportunity to switch tasks. Even if, from your perspective, there seems to be little difference between Task X and Task Y, your employee may be much happier doing one and not the other.
- "This job is too easy and bores me." Set ambitious goals in your employees' performance plans. Encourage them to generate and move forward with ideas that will improve the team's productivity. If you let your team members "get by" and do only what's necessary, they'll likely not be satisfied for long.
- "This place is a dump." Make your team a "class act." Set high professional standards for dress and demeanor and treat your team to the perks and opportunities it deserves. Invest some resources in making your workplace conducive to peak productivity — updating your technology, creating comfortable spaces both for solo and collaborative work, and, yes, sprucing up the aesthetics.
- "My co-workers are bozos." Establish rewards and recognition for the team as a group. It's easier to dismiss or disregard one's co-workers when they aren't essential to one's success. At the same time, work to minimize opportunities for individual workers to showboat and earn recognition for the entire team's efforts.
- "I don't have any friends here." Make it possible for workers to interact on a purely social level. Set high goals for productivity, but treat your workers like grown-ups — let them decide when they have time to chat and socialize. No one will be happy — or very productive — "chained" to a desk. If you or your people can't or don't want to spend time together outside of work, you should help people get acquainted at work — say, by introducing your team members to people you know on other teams.