How you’re demoralizing your workers (without even knowing it)

demoralizing your workers

Companies want happy employees. After all, happy employees are more productive and loyal, both of which translate to better profits. And so, companies do what they can to keep workers content and fulfilled: they adhere to labour policies, they’re flexible to their employees’ needs, they promote on merit. Despite all this, though, companies are sometimes astonished to discover that they have an unhappy workforce.

If this is happening at your company, you might be demoralizing your employees – unintentionally, of course – by ignoring the smaller issues that can arise. And when these issues build up, they lead to an unhappy team, less productivity, and higher turnover rates.

To help you deal with demoralizing issues at your company, here is a look at the most common ones – and what you can do to fix them.

Reason #1: No feedback

No, we’re not talking about performance reviews. We’re talking about asking employees for input on the decisions that affect them. Here’s an example: an employee works at a company that redesigns their cubicles. The new desks are smaller than their old ones, and people can’t see over the dividers – overall, everyone using the new set-up hates it. The issue is that HR didn’t consult the employees who would be affected by the desk switch before they made the change. When employees are not given the opportunity to provide feedback, it gives them the sense that the company does not value their input.

How to fix it: It really doesn’t take much to solicit input from your employees. If you’re a small team, bring up key issues at weekly check-ins. If your workforce is larger, online surveys are easy to customize and send out, and can harvest valuable feedback about everything from engagement initiatives to management styles.

Reason #2: Favouritism

This issue can take many forms, from a simple personality preference to issues of discrimination and bias – and all of them can have serious ramifications on your team. Seeing a manager only meet one-on-one with certain workers, or always choose millennials for their projects while pushing out the older employees, can quickly derail a department’s morale.

Hoolw to fix it: Keep a sharp eye out for any instances of favouritism, and encourage employees to share any concerns they have. And if you discover any issues, deal with them immediately. Depending on the nature of the complaint, there might be legal issues to address, so it’s extra important to find the source of any problems ASAP.

Reason #3: A lack of control

It should come as no surprise that everyone (your employees included) like to feel in control. And when that control is taken away by a manager or a fellow co-worker, the fallout is instantaneous. This is especially relevant as career pathing becomes increasingly important to employees and job seekers – if a person’s career is altered in some way without their involvement, the result will be a demoralizing. For example, if an employee’s title were to suddenly change with no notice or discussion, for that matter, the employee is bound to have a negative reaction – possibly even if the change is good.

How to fix it: Talk to your employees. A lot. An open-door policy will ensure that there are less surprises happening to your team – and if something does occur that makes a team member feel out of control, they should feel comfortable enough to talk to management about it.

Reason #4: Casual disregard

More specifically, this means a casual disregard for your employees’ time and workload by missing meetings. An occasional missed meeting is fine – after all, we’re all busy, and we sometimes forget to glance at the calendar. But if a manager is consistently missing or rescheduling vital meetings, they are sending the message that their time is more important, and that they are more important to the company.

How to fix it: Don’t miss meetings. And if you have to miss meetings, provide a (good) reason. Treat your team with respect, and make sure they know that you value their role in the company.

Reason #5: Paying lip service

It happens all the time: a company asks for advice or insight from its staff, and then ignores the response. Asking for feedback is a great way to engage employees (as we mentioned above), but when an employee takes the time to fill out a survey or offer feedback in some way, you have to act on the results. Otherwise, you’re sending your employees in the opposite direction toward disengagement.

How to fix it: Sincerity is crucial to a happy and engaged team. If you ask your employees for feedback, follow up. If you don’t take their suggestions, tell them why.

Really, addressing all these “little things” that can demoralize your employees is about treating your team with respect on a daily basis – and doing so will result in a happier and more productive team.

See also:
4 (free!) ways to boost employee engagement
How to be a good boss: 7 tips from an executive coach


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