How to Heal Low Morale: 6 Strategies to Reignite Workplace Positivity

You’ve heard of the Great Resignation, but what about the Great Gloom? According to BambooHR’s Employee Happiness Index, employee happiness has plummeted 10x faster in 2023 than in the previous three years.

Employees are the heartbeat of any organization. And while most employees simply accept that morale is getting worse, it’s leadership’s responsibility to make fundamental changes to make their people feel valued and boost satisfaction.

Otherwise, you risk your top performers heading for the exit—or sticking around and spreading negativity at work, harming your company’s overall success.

In this article, we’ll cover common signs of low morale and practical strategies to heal it. Your employees’ happiness is too important to leave to chance. With BambooHR® Employee Satisfaction, you can give your people a voice and solve problems before it’s too late.

What Is Morale?

Employee morale describes your team’s overall attitude about their work environment and roles. Morale is a temporary feeling often influenced by a company’s day-to-day conditions and work culture. For example, employees with high morale likely feel they have the right tools and support they need to thrive in their position. On the other hand, workers with low morale may feel disengaged from their work or socially excluded.

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Signs of Low Morale at Work

Low morale and disengagement can manifest in several ways. The most common signs to look out for include:


Absenteeism is habitual workplace absence for illegitimate reasons that are unplanned and unannounced. While it’s normal for every employee to miss work sometimes for health reasons or emergencies, absenteeism is particularly disruptive. Other employees are left to pick up the slack, which can strain working relationships, and the decrease in productivity can damage your employer brand.

What’s more, absenteeism is costly. Employees may miss work for many reasons—such as burnout, disengagement, and mental illness—and, according to Gallup, missed work due to poor employee mental health costs the economy $47.6 billion annually in lost productivity.

Unsatisfactory Performance

An underperforming employee is someone who fails to meet the company’s standards. Common behaviors of underperforming employees include missing reasonable deadlines, producing rushed, low-quality work, and overall disinterest. Correcting underperformance early on is crucial, as one employee’s low morale can affect the rest of the team.

Poor eNPS Scores

Employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS) measure employee satisfaction and loyalty. Since surveys administered through employee satisfaction software are anonymous, unhappy employees are more likely to give honest feedback about the improvements they’d like the company to make (e.g., perhaps employees want a more holistic benefits package).

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6 Strategies for Improving Employee Morale

Just as low morale can affect the rest of the company’s performance, improving employee morale can increase productivity at work. Fortunately, leadership can boost employee satisfaction in several ways (including no- and low-cost options). While every company has different needs and workplace cultures, the practical strategies below can serve as a starting point for improving low morale:

Be Transparent

Open communication can do wonders for lifting your employees’ spirits. After all, withholding information that employees need to do their best work may cause them to make false assumptions, which can breed frustration and job dissatisfaction.

Of course, sharing good news is easy, but it’s equally important to address challenging topics head-on. In a recent survey, BambooHR found that workers crave transparency regarding layoffs, with 56% wanting to know why roles were let go. Although it can be uncomfortable, modeling vulnerable and honest communication fosters a culture of trust.

Ask for Feedback

In conjunction with top-down communication, create a healthy feedback loop by encouraging employees to speak up. Consider adopting an open door policy for your staff to ask questions, share innovative ideas, and discuss concerns about work assignments, interpersonal conflicts, and more.

Remember to ask departing employees for feedback, too. You can ask a variety of questions during exit interviews, such as:

Lastly, don’t forget to walk the walk. Once you’ve gathered employee feedback, be sure to implement necessary changes, such as addressing concerns or improving processes, to earn their trust.

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Invest in Professional Development

Low morale can stem from a lack of career and development opportunities. If people feel like they’re not growing, they’ll likely feel dissatisfied and search for something more. In fact, 48% of employees would switch jobs if offered skills training opportunities.

Boost morale and retention by providing opportunities like workshops, education reimbursement, coaching programs, job rotation, and promotions for high-performing employees. Offering various options allows you to cater to different employee needs and career paths.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

Certain fringe benefits like health insurance and retirement plans have become table stakes, but offering additional perks such as gym memberships, free lunches, and flexible workplaces can help your people strike that seemingly elusive work-life balance.

Also, providing mental wellness benefits is mutually beneficial for you and your employees. According to the American Institute of Stress, about one million people miss work each day due to stress. Services such as therapy, mental health apps, and employee assistance programs can help your people navigate life’s challenges and, in turn, do their best work.

Appreciate Your People

Never underestimate the power of a kind word. According to a Gallup survey, employees who don’t feel recognized for their efforts are twice as likely to quit in the next year.

Give your top performers the credit and recognition they deserve to make them feel motivated, accomplished, and valued. In turn, you’ll benefit from their increased productivity and loyalty. There are many ways to recognize employees, and you may be surprised that a monetary reward isn’t their top preference. Most respondents to the Gallup survey want public recognition, and 28% say it’s most memorable from their direct manager.

Leverage Modern Software

It’s crucial to give your employees the tools and resources they need to do their jobs efficiently. Plus, doing so can also boost their job satisfaction since disorganized processes can cause frustration. For instance, if your company relies on email as its primary source of communication, employees may be overwhelmed by the influx of messages that can easily fall through the cracks. With instant messaging tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams, you can set up channels organized by team, project type, and other parameters to ensure important information gets seen.

As for your HR team, they need the right tools, too. After all, you can’t boost low eNPS scores if you don’t know what your employees’ pain points are. With the robust reporting features in BambooHR® Employee Satisfaction, you can take a data-driven approach to diagnose problems, take strategic action, and raise morale by making your people feel truly valued.

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