Lift Those Spirits

Spot the telltale signs of a demoralized staff

History has proven that as employers continue to find ways to increase productivity and trim the bottom line, employee morale and quality of life in the workplace will take a nose-dive. Couple the increased workload with the threat of demotion or downsizing and you have a staff that feels betrayed, insecure and, above all, unmotivated.

While it’s easy to look the other way and hope the morose atmosphere will dissipate, you shouldn’t ignore it, says Joann Rolle, Ph.D., management consultant at J.D. Rolle & Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland. Below, Rolle highlights the warning signs of demoralization, and offers ways to help boost employee spirits.

Silence. Indicates fear and a lack of trust. Set aside time for weekly meetings so that issues can be aired. The staff will be more forthcoming when they know that management is listening.

High turnover. Losing valued employees? It’s time to take a serious look at why. The exit interview is your time to ask what could have been done to make them stay. Then take corrective action in order to avert a mutiny.

Tardiness and absenteeism. This may be a sign of rebellion, unhappiness or the obvious — job interviews. Have an informal discussion with the employee to determine the problem. Use disciplinary action as the last resort.

Rumors. It’s best to confront them head-on. Have staff meetings to set the record straight on any confusing issues. Invite both negative and positive feedback.

Low productivity. Use positive reinforcement such as bonuses and merit raises to make employees feel that what they do really counts. Also consider allowing peer-to-peer reviews; feedback from other co- workers may be taken more seriously.

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