When considering the company workforce, employee morale is probably one of the most fragile elements. 

As workplace morale can take many years to build up and be very easily damaged, managers need to take care to preserve it instead of destroying it in one fell swoop.

Not only can poor management technique and a company inability to manage morale damaging and can result in staff leaving, but word can also quickly spread, both verbally and online, causing irreparable damage to your company.

Finding the root

The root of poor employee morale or a high staff turnover may not be blindingly apparent to many HR professionals. Particularly in larger businesses, they are simply unable to observe the everyday occurrences that happen across each of the teams or departments, and will, therefore, be unable to diagnose an issue without participation and input from the workforce themselves.

HR may struggle to get to the root of the problem and may need to implement measures to capture data from employees to find the cause. This could include interviewing employees, undertaking anonymous surveys and identifying patterns in poor performance, staff exits and other negative behaviours.

In order to discover the underlying cause of poor morale, we would recommend adopting root cause analysis.

Toxic managers

Research has uncovered that bad bosses are one of the key reasons for staff leaving. Although employment is actually at a high, poor management is almost always at the centre of increased staff turnover. Furthermore, the cost of replacing a single team member, on average, amounts to around £30,000, an inordinate cost to the business which could be minimised by adapted attitudes and ways of working.

The internet is littered with stories of bad managers acting out of turn, speaking to employees with no respect and even engaging in inappropriate discussion. One employee remarked about a manager who boasted to her team about their hard work earning her alone a bonus, whilst another told of manager in a pub who banned socialising of any type between the staff to the point of banning any contact in group chats even outside of working hours.

There are thousands of forums online with complaints just like these, relating to difficult or downright rude management who unnecessarily deflate their staff's morale, which in turn actually decreases productivity.


One of the core ways in which managers can support their staff and make them feel valued is through sharing their experiences and skills to boost the employee's capability and personal knowledge.

Managers do not need to schedule lengthy and formal training to successfully bond and motivate staff, instead, they should find a regular period of time to spend with their team, sharing thoughts, ideas and knowledge, ideally in a space that is comfortable and casual.

Personal support

Gone are the days of managers jobs stopping at the workload, they now need to be able to express empathy and undertake much more sensitive councilling of their employees. Although traditionally HR may have been the main port of call of any personal issues a staff member might have, more and more employees are putting faith in their managers to support them.

Many employees who are unhappy in work have had negative experiences whereby they have confided in a manager and have then proceeded to explain a personal situation affecting them to be told to keep working hard, with the manager failing to see the human behind the employee and only focussing on the output of the task at hand.

Workplace leadership training

Although managers aren’t the only thing driving employees to underperform or leave, they are one of the key gripes that many employees will experience at some point during their working life.

Much of the leadership training resources will teach managers to be leaders rather than rulers. Leaders have willing followers, who inspire and support their employees, they will often coach their employees, generate enthusiasm, get stuck into the task at hand and will reward good work. A leader will drive employees and expect them to follow blindly, their actions typically hinge on a dependence of asserting authority and inspiring fear of failure in their team.

Much of learning to be a good manager and leader will be understanding what motivates and inspires your team and utilising this to drive productivity and results. Effective managers should also strive to create an inspiring vision and work carefully with their team to collectively deliver and achieve that end goal.