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Dear Work Therapist - How do you beat poor employee morale

Edited

Dear Work Therapist,

How do you beat poor employee morale and motivate employees at their jobs? There is a high risk of employee burnout and overall dissatisfaction, if there is no motivation. There are many elements to it (flexibility, rewards/recognition, career development), if management ignore it or can’t identify it at the first place, it can lead to poor productivity, decreased quality of work etc. Any suggestions ? 

This question is out of my imagination.

6 answers

2 votes
Kelly Drozd Atlassian Team Jul 31, 2021

@Kishan Sharma hi there! A lot of great comments here. In my experience, everyone has different core needs, not a one size fits all approach to helping with morale or burnout. 

I would check out this framework, I used this as a people leader and it's great to understand about yourself as well. Core Needs: BICEPS

It says that "There are six core needs researchers find are important for humans (both at work and in our personal lives). Each of us have a personal hierarchy for the six however: You might find that equity and belonging are most important to you, but choice and status are most important to your employee, your partner, your child.  Getting to know them is a shortcut to better communication, as well as greater inclusivity at work." 

Belonging, Improvement/ Progress, Choice, Equality/ Fairness, Predictability, Significance.

I'd love to hear what you think!

- kelly 

I have gone through that framework, its really great @Kelly Drozd thank you for sharing. It covers all the aspects I was talking about in my question, that is what one needs and it will vary depending on individual choices.

Like Kelly Drozd likes this
Kelly Drozd Atlassian Team Aug 02, 2021

@Kishan Sharma glad you found it helpful!

2 votes

Hi @Kishan Sharma - such a relevant question for these days!

As I mentioned in another reply above, low morale is amplified these days due to the state of societal and personal life circumstances. That said, Atlassian has used this Work Life Impact Play to help facilitate conversations for teammates. It helps a team know what's going on with each other so that team changes may accommodate better working conditions for everyone.

Another thing we've found is that low motivation, at least in the last couple years, may be due to the change of working norms caused by the pandemic. Translation: workers may feel detached, to not only their team, but to their work. If that rings true for you, here are some considerations:

  • Roles fitting into the big picture - when team norms are changed, workers may get less affirmation that what they're doing matters. Whether it's leadership acknowledgment of their work, other teams referencing their work, or teammates congratulating each other on their work, it's important that workers feel like their work matters. So, consider finding a way to lift up each member's work in a way that's relevant for them.
  • Being in the know - being part of a team that engages with each other means also being in the know. if you work on a distributed team or communication processes changed recently, it's important that workers continue to feel in the know about each other's work or company-level news. Is there an efficient way to do that?
  • Get a pulse on how everyone feels - Kishan, if management is ignoring it, they may not understand the weight of how everyone feels. Is there data that can back up how teams feel in terms of surveys or even qualitative anecdotes? Going to management with that data might kickstart changes.

I like how you've mentioned that compensation--like financial compensation or through expanded responsibility, and recognition--like awards or shoutouts on the individual- and team levels, are definitely ways to improve motivation. But being in the know, understanding how roles and work connect to other company roles and work, and overall feeling like you matter, also improve motivation.

Let us know what else you've tried whether it's worked or not. We'd love to know!

Thank you @Christine P_ Dela Rosa for these effective points, I can relate to it. The work life impact play is great.

In my past organization, few of the things that our leadership tried and worked wonders, listed below -

  • Gather feedback from employees via surveys
  • Created Employee recognition programs where individuals can recognise /nominate themselves and others for awards.
  • Encourage continuous learning across and between teams by providing various learning platforms.
Like # people like this

Ah, I actually think those past efforts are great! I wonder if they helped even if not enough. 

Yes, certainly not enough as there are many more elements that can be considered  :)

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

I think every person has different motivators. It can be money, personal development, benefits, good team etc. But I think none of it will work if there is no real personal empathy between team member and his leader/manager.

If you're manager, you must be someone who understands who your team members really are. And it is not easy because it requlres a loooot of time :)

I fight with it all the time because of paid projects which always are the most important because we need also to get money for the team members...:D

That's very precise @Martin Bayer _MoroSystems_ s_r_o__ Being a people manager has its own challenges and require skills to manage individuals, so i can relate to what you have mentioned. :)

Like # people like this

If the management ignores it, look for another job, look for a place where people are appreciated because it is a basic pillar of companies, good and competent people do not put up with it indefinitely. Communicate the problem openly but if they just say yes we will do it and do nothing go somewhere else.

Rightly said @Ignacio Aredez

That's what happens when employees burnout!

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

I don't think that you can change a poor employee morale with money.

In such a case, it is not the right job / team for the employee.

In general, you should of course pay the same like other companies for the same work. But also see that you have a good team, work equipment (hardware & software), workplace (free parking if you are in a big city) and other stuff to make it easier to feel good at work.

You have got my point correctly (ie other elements apart from salary). Salary/Money is a secondary thing. If employees are not recognized/rewarded, their contributions are not valued, i am sure they will feel demotivated.

Like # people like this

Is that a real case? If so, IMHO you need to be in management to be able to drive those changes.

I would love to do that. Just as an example - If i am a people manager, i will make sure that my team or the individual contributors in my team are recognized/rewarded for going above and beyond or excellent support they have provided to customers.

Just a healthy debate - why do you think it can't be a real case ? By any chance, have you not heard from any of your colleagues in your current or past organization, that they are not recognized for the work they do ?

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

For what it's worth, @Anita Kalmane, our senior researcher, Dr. @Mahreen Khan is leading "state of teams" research (we'll be publishing them every quarter starting later this year). And within that research, we're seeing...

23% of US workers who say they're burned out and 30% of US workers who worked at an office are burnt out. 

And there's definitely a link between burnout and employee motivation. I say all this because there may also be societal factors, outside of management that may impact burnout levels. Even though company culture, leadership, and alignment are all important as well.

Like # people like this

Thank you for the supplement Christine!

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

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