There are always warning signs that signal team morale is about to drop.
An employee misses deadline after deadline.
There's low engagement in meetings and brainstorming sessions.
Team members who are typically energized seem distant and quiet.
In any work environment, it's not uncommon to experience low morale from time to time. But when it's consistently low, it can become detrimental to your team's productivity. For remote teams, knowing when morale is critically low can be challenging.
It's harder to gauge tone over messaging.
You don't engage with every team member on a daily basis.
Weeks can pass before any dissatisfaction comes to light.
That's why it's critical to understand how low morale occurs in remote teams. When you get to the root of low morale, you can deploy the right tools and processes to overcome it. Best of all, by confronting the factors behind morale, your team can become more productive and creative than they've ever been.
6 Significant Factors Influencing Employee Morale
It's simple. When employees are happy and feel motivated, they do better work. The most successful remote teams understand this, so they prioritize the happiness and well-being of their employees. As a result, team members are more productive and passionate because they're doing work that they're proud of.
There are six factors that impact employee morale the most. Let's examine them one by one.
1. Remote Work/Life Balance
For distributed teams, work and life balance can be difficult to strike. In an office, workers arrive and depart around the same time each day. It's clear when you're working and when you're not. But with remote work, there's not always a clear separation between work and home life.
Work time blends into personal time. You bring your laptop to bed and leave it open while watching television with your family. You check notifications at all hours of the day.
While working from home is supposed to be a utopia of freedom from the office, it often has the inverse effect. It can start to feel like you don't have enough time away from your work.
Companies can prevent this by setting clear work hours and encouraging employees to take time off. Because when teams master their work/life balance, they have more energy and enthusiasm.
Basecamp, a company that has 50 companies located in 30+ cities, takes work-life balance up a notch. They offer paid vacation packages between $4,000-$5,000 for employees, making it feasible for them to take time off and relax.
2. Tools and Systems
When distributed teams have inefficient platforms and complicated processes, collaboration is more difficult. Employees spend more time searching for feedback and clearing up misunderstandings. Then, things fall through the cracks and employees get frustrated.
Additionally, according to market research firm IDC, companies lose 20% to 30% of revenue annually due to inefficiencies.
When you have communication tools and systems, work is easier and more collaborative.
Projects get done sooner and on budget. There is a higher quality of work. Teams get to spend more time on producing their best work and less time on manual, tedious tasks. It's good for everyone.
Leadership is one of the most critical contributors to morale. The right person in a leadership role will build up your team and make them feel excited about their work. It's more important than any technology or perks you have in place.
Image credit to EduBirdie.
"No amount of technological wizardry or personal autonomy negates the fact — which has long been true for office-bound workers as well — that job satisfaction is still closely tied to having an effective, emotionally intelligent boss." - Fast Company
Poor leaders lower employee morale. Period.
If you have someone in a leadership position that makes your team feel micromanaged or unappreciated, it works against morale. It erodes your team's ability to work and get things done.
4. The Nature of Work
The work that your team does on a day-to-day basis is the soul of your organization. And it's one of the most overlooked aspects of morale. When employees do work that doesn't fulfill them, or in a role they're not a fit for, it absolutely impacts morale. No one wants to be in a position where they can't grow and thrive.
In the long-term, it also has an impact on your bottom line. According to Gallup, highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability for companies. Businesses with passionate, energetic employees also experience 24% less turnover. Because when employees do work they feel good about, morale drastically improves.
5. Professional Development and Training Opportunities
Without the opportunity to grow, employees can start to feel stagnant. That's why prioritizing professional development is such a good investment for companies. You can equip employees with the resources they require to do their job well, invest in their future, and strengthen their skills.
Forbes contributor Shane Barker recommends a few tactics for facilitating better work. These include upskilling, recognizing outstanding work, and deploying better collaboration tools. You can improve team morale and the quality of work, since "employees will have better skills to deliver exceptional work," says Barker.
Simply put, when you invest in your team, not only are you helping them improve, you're showing them you care about their growth. You can equip your team with courses, workshops, conferences, and books and even compensate them for their time.
6. Workplace Culture
The culture of your workplace can have the most significant impact on employee morale. If you have a team that isn't supportive of each other and struggles to collaborate, morale is going to feel low.
According to Wade Foster, a contributor for the Zapier blog, the right culture won't magically appear. You've got to put in the work and do more than some team building activities. Your team needs to know what they're working toward, do work that they're proud of, and trust each other.
"In a remote team, there aren't any silly rules about having your butts in a seat during certain hours of the day," writes Foster.
"This means at the end of the week, you either have something to show for your week or not. This means you trust that your teammates are getting something done. But also your teammates trust you."
A workplace culture that makes team members feel included, appreciated, and heard can drastically impact team morale.
Maintaining Positive Employee Morale For Remote Teams
As a distributed team, your employees need the right mix of support, leadership, and work-life balance to maintain high morale. The right systems and technology will contribute to that.