How's the morale

in your workplace?
High, Medium or Low?

How do you gauge morale in the workplace?

Motivating employees is a key skill of high performance leaders

Employee satisfaction/climate surveys are one way of discovering the level of morale in the workplace.

However, if you don't have time (or the resources) to conduct an employee morale survey, then using the three levels of engagement described below may be useful.

For some additional employee engagement and employee retention ideas, you may also find the article on employee motivation techniques useful.

How to Identify Low Morale in the Workplace

Some indications of low morale are:

Low productivity

If otherwise, competent staff are not getting work done on time, you likely have a morale problem.

Productivity takes a nosedive generally for two reasons.

Firstly, the work is harder to complete than it needs to be. For example, systems, procedures etc are putting the brakes on performance. When people have to find workarounds to get simples tasks done, because of 'dumb' policies and procedures, or inefficient work systems, morale will take a dive.

Low Morale in the workplace caused by poor systems

When people have to find work arounds because of 'dumb' policies and work procedures ... morale often takes a dive

Secondly, productivity will tank when people don't like each other:

Interpersonal conflicts

Do you find yourself regularly acting as referee rather than leading your team to high-performance? You guessed it! That's another indicator of low morale. Discontent within the workplace leads to conflicts and frustrations spilling over.

When morale is low, people end up battling and warring amongst themselves. Rather than being focused on winning the game of business. Outperforming your competitors, and delivering an exceptional product or service to your customers. 

It is the leader who sets the conditions that fixes conflicts. Check out the program I suggest for Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

High turnover

If there is a stampede of people applying for jobs, either outside your team or outside your organization - then this could be an indicator of low morale in the workplace. The best people don't stick around in teams, or organizations, that don't fulfill them and/or aren't high-performing.

Another indicator is, if you advertise a job internally, and you don't have a bunch of people (particularly 'stars') applying to get into your team. If that's happening you may want to look at what you need to improve, to make your team a more desirable entity. As I explain, in "How to Motivate Employees" (this product is currently undergoing a rewrite) - even the most mundane of jobs can be appealing to people. You just need to ensure the systems and environment are set up to be inspiring.

Identifying a Medium Level of Morale

This category is the grey area, where determining the level of morale can be challenging. A workplace with medium morale may seem to function quite well, but there are often underlying issues that crop up from time to time. Indicators that you've got problems include:

Social reluctance

If your team members seem to be okay performing their basic work tasks, but hesitate to show up to things like office parties or other non-required events, then this may indicate that the morale in the workplace is at a medium level. Low social activity outside of work hours can be an indicator that team spirit is failing. Particularly if previously there had been healthy socialization.

Putting in the minimum requirements

A workplace with high morale is characterized by staff that are happy to go the extra mile. If you see a reluctance from team members to step up and go above and beyond, it may be a hint that something isn't quite right.

Check out these leadership tips, several of which will help you to inspire more discretionary effort.


Indicators of morale in the workplace

High Morale in the Workplace

Team Members with high morale display these traits:

  • Dedication to the company
  • Enthusiasm about their work responsibilities
  • Confidence in their performance
  • Willingness to do more than required
  • Willingness to socialise together outside of working hours

Unfortunately, high morale doesn't necessarily mean improved profits and productivity.

You certainly won't get high profits and productivity if morale is low. But high morale in and of itself isn't the reason for improved performance.

To get increased performance you actually need to take care of more than just morale and that's where the 4Bs of high-performance model helps you.

What You Can Do To Improve Performance

There are four key elements your organization should address to inspire and motivate people toward high-performance. The Four B's (priority order for inspiring commitment and performance) are:

  • Believing - In the organization and the role
  • Belonging - A sense of belonging and being valued
  • Behaving - Clarity on the behaviors that will enable success
  • Bottom-line - Tools, resources and context to help achieve results fast

Here are the elements that go into each of the 4 Bs that will help you to get and keep people engaged. Each of these elements are more fully explained in the "How to Motivate Employees" program (this product is currently undergoing a rewrite and will be available soon).


  • Connect people to their purpose
  • Design people's roles so they can play to their strengths
  • Make sure base needs are met: Money, Safety, Security, Job Conditions
  • Provide challenging and meaningful work
  • Celebrate success


  • Promote a sense of community, social interaction, and teamwork
  • Ensure regular face-to-face contact
  • No culture of politics, competition, and in-fighting
  • Give frequent, direct, yet supportive feedback
  • Keep it fun


  • Enable input and choice in how work gets done
  • Offer the opportunity for learning, growth, and advancement
  • Principle driven rather than rules driven
  • Productive meetings
  • Information freely shared
  • Poor performance is not tolerated (People are coached up or coached out fast)
  • People are not  punished for making mistakes
  • Systems, tools and information to do the job well, are provided


Morale in the workplace is critical to the success of any organization. By recognizing the signs of high, medium, and low morale, you can work to create a more positive and productive work environment, so that everyone wins:- You, Your Team Members, Your Organization and Your Customers.

Ways to Measure Morale in the Workplace

Here are other methods to discover the level of morale in your workplace:

  • Climate/Mood Surveys are a trusted method for many organizations. Generally, anonymous surveys deliver better results. However, do make sure the questions you ask are designed carefully. Ask the wrong types of questions, and you'll end up with information that, at best, is meaningless, at worst downright dangerous, and can set the organization along an unintended path. You may find this survey useful.
  • Small focus groups, or one-on-one feedback, can provide a good gauge of company morale. The interviewee will need to know that there are no repercussions for honest answers.
  • Studying productivity/efficiency trends will also give a good gauge of overall morale. The past may give you a hint of when things started to go off the boil. Helping you to pinpoint what could be causing the frustration in the workplace
  • Studying complaint trends (both customer and employee) will also show how much the employees care about their work, as well as the quality with which it is completed. By checking complaint logs, as well as listening to the gripes of employees, you'll get a good idea of how they feel, and what's holding them back.
  • Take your turn working shoulder to shoulder with the team ... and not just for an hour. Schedule a block of time so you get a real feel for what it is like 'down in the trenches' You may be surprised!

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