Ivy Sea, Inc.

51 Federal Street

Suite 307

San Francisco, CA


T 415.778.3910

F 415.778.3911


Ivy Sea's Enlightened-Leadership Series

If successful business were a feast, morale would be the salt — an ingredient present in almost every dish, and one that helps bring out the best in the other ingredients.

Defined as confidence, cheerfulness, discipline, and the "mental attitude" or "state of spirits" that a person shows in willingness to perform assigned tasks, morale is one of the intangible measures of success that influences so many aspects of an organization — including employee (or member) retention, information security and performance. (Modern studies and ancient practices also tell us that negativity is often the result of a loss of confidence, control or community.)

However, because morale is intangible, some see it as difficult to monitor or improve. Organizations and communities of all sorts have explored the heights and depths of morale for centuries, hoping to replicate the enthusiasm that some individuals have for their work and participation — and the resulting positive effects on the culture and the bottom line.

While no set of activities is a magic formula for every organization’s success, certain concepts and practices have proven to be winning combinations if used mindfully and sincerely.

Six Ways to Spark Morale in Your Organization

Give them something to cheer about: Create and communicate an honest organizational vision and mission. These concepts and the resulting documents are like a nation’s flag; they represent the organization’s purpose for being and serve as guide for operating. In terms of morale, people want to feel as if they are part of something bigger. Studies show that most people want to believe that there is some purpose, some meaning to their work. They want to feel as if they provide some value, that they’re contribution matters. If they understand the organization’s purpose and direction, and their part in making the desired outcomes happen, they might gain the sense of purpose and contribution that they seek. Of course, it helps to have a vision and mission that people can feel good about.

Encourage employees to grow: If you’ve asked, you’ve probably learned that many employees are thrilled at the thought of coming to work if learning is part of their daily experience. Research confirms that this is the case. Training, professional development, opportunities to try new skills or apply existing skills in new ways, and cross-training are mutually beneficial business tools: the organization deepens its "bank of knowledge and know-how" and employees’ morale soars.

Hear their voices: Welcome and provide venues for employee feedback and participation, and take appropriate action to consider and respond to their comments. When people don’t feel heard, or perceive that their ideas aren’t valued æ or at least acknowledged, morale suffers. They don’t see themselves as part of the group, and will be dissatisfied or begin looking for an organization that does value their contributions.

Be consistent: Consistency breeds trust, increasing the likelihood that employees are authentic at and passionate about their work —clear-cut evidence of high morale. Policies, roles, expectations, inspired leadership and effective communication are a sampling of the many areas that require consistency in order to earn high morale from those in the organization.

Communicate skillfully: Keep employees informed and build their understanding of what’s happening in the business, and why. Rumor mills thrive in environs devoid of effective communication, bleeding the company dry of morale or creating a culture that quickly becomes (and stays) dysfunctional or downright toxic. Skillful communication embodies respect for all of those doing the work of the organization (including managers as well as employees æ none of those corrosive "us vs. them" dichotomies perpetuated by either "side"). High-morale organizations encourage and practice skillful communication more often than not.

Reward and recognize: Arguably one of the most powerful ways to increase morale is to recognize and reward actions and behaviors that are in sync with your organization’s vision. These stories serve as good examples and motivators for others, too. Show your passion for outstanding contributions by rewarding employees that embody the actions and spirit of your business.

Act now and later: Morale isn’t an issue to tackle when layoffs are announced, it requires an ongoing commitment to how your company operates and what sort of culture you want to nurture, which is why it helps sustain the organization through challenging times. Fair-weather respect for employees invites fair-weather loyalty from employees. Stay aware of morale levels and maintain a roster of activities that help monitor and boost morale.

Higher morale is better business

Employees who love their work and their workplace typically:

look forward to coming to work;
contribute more deliberately and actively to the organization;
get more done and have more ideas;
focus their energy on the possibilities;
reinforce your organizational culture;
treat clients, coworkers and vendors with more respect;
weather the "tough times" with you; and
serve as positive ambassadors for your organization.

Ideas for monitoring your organization's morale-o-meter

Ask employees
Interview third-party contacts for their impressions
Visit feedback venues and chatrooms where employees might give cheers and jeers
Evaluate the external press coverage that your company has received
Reflect on your own thoughts and impressions of the organization

This information provides food for thought rather than counsel specifically designed to meet the needs of your organization. Please use it mindfully. The most effective approaches are those that have been tailored to your unique needs and organizational culture, so if it fits your interests and budget, connect with an adviser whose perspective you trust and value. Have questions? Feel free to send us an email.

Honing virtue in the workplace

Six great ways to recognize employees

Uncovering employee potential

Leaders know how to motivate others

Tips for jazzing up those company meetings

What are the elements of culture?

Morale & motivation resource portal

Biz Owners Only

Inspired-Leadership Portal

Organizational Communication

IntraPersonal and Mindset Mastery Portal

Ivy Sea Links to Other Sites

Ivy Sea Issue Portals

What else would you like to see us cover? What are your key communication issues or experiences in the workplace? Let us know!