Keeping Morale High as Real Wages Fall

By Webb Ward

Posted: 5th March 2014 08:47

With a recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that the average earnings of full-time workers in the United Kingdom has dropped back to 2002 levels, there has never been a more important time to concentrate on keeping morale high amongst staff members.

The figures show that while, in cash terms, earnings grew by 2% each year between 2009 and 2013, purchasing power has dropped by 8% once inflation had been taken into account. One of the biggest problems that an employer can face in the wake of reports such as this is a drop in employee morale.

Low morale affects productivity hugely, and the widespread media coverage of an issue like real wages means that even those who may not be directly affected by the downturn can experience the same dip in motivation. A graduate, for example, who has only just entered the workplace, can still be affected despite not being in work during more prosperous economic times. This contagion effect can prove costly to companies that are not mindful of the situation. Keeping the problem in check takes great leaders, and it could be argued that this is why your business needs a leadership programme now more than ever before.

Research carried out by The Jackson Organisation shows that there is direct link between managers that are prepared to motivate their staff with meaningful rewards, and the morale of the employee. In a study of 200,000 people over ten years, they established that constructive praise and meaningful rewards can help to motivate employees regardless of background. This, in turn, inspires them to perform better on a day to day basis resulting in increased productivity and higher levels of engagement between staff and management.

However, when questioned about their views on workplace morale, employees will often respond that it is not only those who are directly above them that are the cause of low morale within the company. While line managers and supervisors may routinely bear the brunt of the criticism from staff, when asked, employees frequently cite the company’s overall structure as the problem. This emphasises the need for a top down approach when it comes to increasing morale. 

The ability to lead is no longer about just telling employees what to do and expecting them to go about their day. Employees feel more engaged with a company that they can trust and that they have a connection with. Senior management should be able to clearly put across the company’s outlook and goals, making their staff feel part of the business rather than just drones or worker ants. Developing legitimate relationships with their colleagues helps engender trust and can re-energise a flagging workforce.

Everybody’s role in the workplace has changed dramatically in the last thirty years. We are now required to work together, from top to bottom, in order to reach our shared targets. This should be embraced, as a feeling of everyone pulling in the same direction makes us all want to do better, keeps us excited about what we do and ultimately makes us a lot more productive.

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