Employee Morale and Absenteeism

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Low morale and absenteeism may be linked together with job working conditions and may lead to losses. According to Confidence Center(2009), a company of 100 employees may lose nearly $75, 000 per year as a result absenteeism and tardiness. In addition, employee absenteeism has been linked to low morale (Jillian, 2005) and that companies may lose from an estimated $60,000 annually for small employers and over a million dollars for large companies according to 2004 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey (Jillian, 2005). Employee morale is important because it is linked to production and work output since it is linked to the loss of working/man hours. Organizations should be aimed at evaluating or monitoring the employee morale and put necessary measures such as programs that will boost morale. Organizations should be aimed at improving the working conditions. Companies need to watch out where the employees may be obligated to remain under employment because of financial commitments and yet the morale is low (Jillian, 2005).

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Causes of low employee morale

Low employee morale can be caused by the working conditions being unfavorable. Stress and other personal problems. Low pay or incentives, compensation e.t.c.. Improper management and leadership

Poor employer response to the needs and concern of the employee. Lack of employee participation programs such as in decision-making channels.

Evaluation of morale

This can help to know the areas where the employee morale is being affected and it may be advantageous because low morale can be fixed by focusing on that specific area.

Impacts of low morale and absenteeism

Low morale may manifest itself through employee absenteeism among other trends in the work place. Low morale lead to reduced hours of work which means that the output is lower than at peak. Low morale translate to losses in terms of production cost because the labor is not utilized to the maximum. Where low morale leads to absenteeism, replacing the employee may take time and/or disrupt operations elsewhere. In addition, training of another new employee may be hard, expensive and taking time.

Activities that are achieved through teamwork and team spirit may suffer loss due to reduction of morale of team players as fellow members affect others. Usually, what discourages a certain employee may be passed on, leading to massive effects.

Solving problems related to low morale and absenteeism

Knowledge of the level of motivation for the employees is important because it can help the company deal with the present trend before things are worse.

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Areas of assessment include the following;

  • Employee relationships:– the way the employees relate to one another in their job duties
  • Employee spirit:– the enthusiasm and positive energy generated at the workplace
  • Fulfillment:– job meaningfulness to the employee
  • Personal and professional Growth:– making the employees grow professionally and career wise
  • Appreciation and recognition:– the appreciation given to the employees
  • Company communication:– how the employees are kept informed

An employee morale program can be initiated in order to help employees retain their morale as they carry on with their daily processes. The advantage of an employee program is that it will help in tracking the employee morale and necessary actions can be taken before it leads to absenteeism or worse.

Actions to improve employee morale and reducing absenteeism improving communication within the organization

Communication within the organization range from occasional positive feedback to the employees for a job well done, letting the employees freely voice their concerns and complains through available channels (Jillian, 2005). This means that employees will not respond to these complains in reducing their interest to work if they trust that they will be dealt with. Communication channels include holding occasional discussion meetings with employees, putting suggestion boxes and even carrying out surveys about issues such as the working conditions.

Employers must however be keen to respond to issues raised in the surveys, meetings and suggestion boxes so as to win the trust of employees to solving their problems.

Communication is important because morale of individual employees may be affected by different factors or have various causes.

Improving the working conditions

Working conditions are by far the most important cause of job satisfaction or dissatisfaction and employee morale. Working conditions include the basic things like the status of the physical facilities to the way employees are dealt with in case of better results or poor performance. Working conditions should encourage the employee to work hard without fear, risk of health, risk of being easily expelled or any other danger. Employees will perform better if they have job security, working environment that do not pose danger of health, among other things.

Involving the employees

This is one of the actions that can help boost employee participation in the operations of the company and in turn causing them to have increased interest in the operations. The company leadership should make sure that the employees give contribution to the operations through new ideas on improvement, suggestions, and comments on operations, and value their contribution. The challenge to such approach is that it may lead to spending of more time before making a particular decision because ideas from many people may have to be consulted to make sure they are made to feel involved.

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Employee incentive and reward program

Everyone feel good if they are appreciated for a job well-done and their efforts recognized. A reward program will positively enhance the output of the employee in the targeted area as the employee aim to achieve the target. A reward program may be attached to the level of output or quality of service through defined means. However, the employers must be keen to ensure that the targets set are real and attainable so as the employees will not be discouraged from attaining them. A reward program can be accompanied by small things that compliment the major ones such as certificates, weekend getaways, and small gifts and appreciation by word of mouth (BusinessKnowledgeSource.com).

In establishing what kind of the reward program to start, an employee may want to make consideration between cash or non-cash incentive programs. There is an argument that cash-based recognition programs may have the least impacts (World Incentives, ). In deed, cash rewards are less effective as compared to non-cash rewards because of the way the brain processes information. The right hemisphere of the brain is concerned with the visualization of the non-cash rewards according to research, and the result of these images or mental pictures visualized in the mind may be triggering emotional responses which can be quite powerful, according to the aforementioned author. On the other hand, cash rewards are not as powerful because they are processed by the left hemisphere which lacks the ability to create images. Unlike the non-reward recognition, cash recognition trigger emotional responses as to whether the amount of money given is sufficient, “relative to the time or effort required to earn it” (World Incentives). The reason why cash-based recognition rewards may lack as much influence is that the behavior of the employee (or any individual) is not driven by rational thoughts (whose generation is encouraged by cash rewards), but by emotional responses driven by the non-cash rewards or recognition.

In fact, tangible rewards scored 38.6% as compared to cash rewards, according to the aforementioned author, when all were relative to “no incentives”.

It is therefore a recommendation here that the company should capitalize on the non-cash rewards more than cash rewards.

Research pointed to the idea that many would remember travel offers the longest (with 57% of the respondent agreeing to this), with merchandise being remembered next as the second (with 52% agreeing) and 58% agreed that cash offers would be remembered for the shortest duration. A further issue that would arise to guide the employer to offer recognition rewards in the program is whether the employees can acquire this for themselves or not. The aforementioned research point to the fact that employees would prefer merchandise because these are things they would not afford by themselves.

It is also important that the program include reward at a particular time say every end of financial year based on the performance of the employee, for example the level of production.

Encourage professional growth and development

Professional qualification of employees make them gather self-confidence while executing their operations. In addition, those with professional skills are more likely to perform their responsibilities ethically and professionally. The employer should invest in professional qualifications through providing adequate job training programs to strengthen the employee skills. Additional training and coaching should be provided for example in new technology. Professional development can include having the employees to undertake projects or particular tasks which might be challenging so as to develop interest to explore and become better. This step may require additional investment on the employees and may be interpreted as additional cost to the company, but it would also mean a long lasting investment to improved quality of service and higher efficiency as employees move to near-professionals.

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Encourage good leadership

A team will be as better as its leaders. Therefore, the company must ensure that there are good leaders to emulate. Investing in building leaders who will not only command the employees but also offer good example as dedicated workers may not be easy. Good leaders must be sensitive to the needs of the employees, value employees’ contribution, be able to manage employees and respond to the needs of the employees. Leaders should understand and be familiar with the employees in order to establish the appropriate causes of low morale and absenteeism among them as they may be variant.

This would help coming up with appropriate channels to deal with these problems. This explains the importance of leaders who remain closer to them and have keen interest in knowing them. This option however may be disadvantageous as leaders may be forced to give in to particular needs of the employees neglecting the most important matters that improve output and quality.


Confidence Center. Discover the secrets of boosting employee morale…on shoestring budget. Web.

Jillian, D. (2005). Absenteeism linked to employee morale.

Tips for improving employee morale. BusinessKnowledgeSource. Web.

World Incentives. Employee Recognition. Web.

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