The floggings will continue until morale improves!

An interesting survey about employee morale was released yesterday by CareerBuilder.com. The full survey can be read on their website.

Twenty three percent of workers rate their current employer’s employee morale as low with a staggering 40% of respondents stating that they have had difficulty staying motivated at work in the last year.

This survey was taken across all industries and companies. I suspect that the data would be worse for those in the retail sector. The pay is lower than many other industries, the hours are longer, the work is exacting, and the shifts often involve nights and weekends.

The reasons that they state for this are not surprising – 47% say that their work load has increased in the past six months with 40% reporting that they have a high stress level at work and 20% not happy with their work/life balance.

As you are facing a challenging time, it makes sense that your store, like many (dare I say “most”?) other businesses are trying to do more with less. This translates to more work and stress for you – and for your staff. While part of the result is increased job security for your staff, it also lowers their morale.

Bad morale can easily and obviously lead to bad customer service. With you facing challenges serving cash-strapped customers in a recession, giving bad service is one of the worse things that you can have. (You don’t want to give customers a reason to shop elsewhere – especially now!)

In a better economic climate, employees who don’t like their jobs are better able to find new ones and move on. With fewer businesses hiring, they are more likely to stay – and be a drag on the rest of your staff and on your customers.

The onus that ends up on you, as the store owner or manager, is either to create a climate that will produce a more motivated employee or to let that employee go. This is a part of being “the boss” that no one likes, especially in tough times. To take its polite wrapping off, firing people is probably the least enjoyable part of your job. In a practical sense, if an employee poisons your relationships with enough customers, can you afford to keep him or her on staff?

There are some findings in this survey that you can do something about, however. 38% of employees felt that there was departmental favoritism at work, leading to bad morale and 28% felt that their department was not important to senior leadership. Are you favoring one department, or some staff members, over others? Have you conveyed – verbally or tangibly – your appreciation for your employees recently? (How recently?)

Your employees are your lifeline to your customers – and your continued success. It is hard work to get a good staff and well worth the effort to keep them as valued members of your team.

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