Factory worker in a hard hat is walking through industrial facilities.

Noticing more eye rolls or heavy sighs during meetings lately? Are your coworkers overwhelmingly negative or cynical?

These could be signs that the morale in your office is starting to decline, and it’s not something to take lightly.

Not only does low morale create an unhappy workplace, but it can also result in high turnover and decreased productivity. The trickle-down effect will also result in unhappy customers and clients, which will ultimately hurt profit margins.

So, what can you do as an employer to combat this silent killer?

First, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of low morale before it spreads.

Dwindling productivity and lack of initiative

Business leaders agree that one of the early signs of low morale is a noticeable lack of effort amongst employees. If you notice laziness or lack of drive throughout the workplace, don’t assume it will pass. There is most likely a reason for this behavior, and it should be addressed before morale dips.


Unmotivated employees go through the motions rather than take an active seat at the table. Foster an ownership environment in which people have the expectations that they should take the initiative, demonstrate leadership and solve problems in creative ways. Not only will that improve employee morale at your company, but it will help your workforce thrive in any kind of economy.

Lack of attendance and engagement

When employees stop showing up for meetings or even planned social outings, that means something is amiss. Not only does it signal that something might be wrong with that employee, but it also affects morale in the office when a co-worker doesn’t show up for a planned shift.


Track attendance and productivity of the employee(s) closely, and if there are issues meet with the employee in private. Be clear about your concerns and expectations, and give the employee an opportunity to explain before deciding whether disciplinary action is appropriate.

To improve employee engagement, try rekindling the motivation to remind employees why they do what they do. Consider holding team-building events and setting up meetings with employees to brainstorm side projects or ways to reignite passion for the company’s mission.

Emotional outbursts

We’ve all felt it. Stress in the workplace can make you want to scream, but most of us can manage it either through exercise, compartmentalization, meditation or the like. But, for some, stress can be overwhelming. If you notice your employees are stressed, take notice and put a plan into place before it affects their health.


Set up meetings with affected employees to discuss what’s triggering them and how you can help. One consideration is to give employees more control over their time at work. The American Psychological Association suggests that giving employees the opportunity to set flexible hours will ease stress in the workplace. Empowering team members the freedom to set their own hours represents a major morale opportunity.

Poor performance

When work in the company starts looking subpar, it could mean employee satisfaction is on the decline. Signs of trouble include missed deadlines, an increase in mistakes or a decline in service levels.


Ask your team members if they feel burdened by the amount of work they have to do and take full responsibility for providing the support they need. If not already in place, create a positive work environment by promoting open communication, trust and a little bit of fun.

High turnover

When employees quit, it’s usually because something that once kept them working is, well…no longer working. They’re not having fun, they’re not inspired, and they’re not developing valuable relationships with their coworkers because every day is a struggle. Unfortunately, turnover, like negativity, can spread through a company like a virus. Once a few employees put in their notice, more employees will likely follow suit.


Focus on teamwork. Implement some ways to build teamwork in your office, and your employees might just stick around longer. According to a GloboForce Survey, workplace friendships retain employees. Most (62%) respondents who reported having 1-5 work friends would turn down an external job offer.

Workplace morale is key for ensuring your employees are productive, but it can be more difficult to maintain good morale once it starts to slip. Make sure your business regularly measures office morale, and include employees on these conversations.

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