How not to Build Company Morale

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This is what good morale looks like.The more I focus on external communications – what could be termed marketing communications or content marketing – the more I find myself focusing on internal communications. I believe that the internal affects the external. What is good for the internal is good for the external. What is bad is bad.

It’s those thoughts that have led to a concern with company culture, morale, and vision. Culture, morale, and vision may not typically be the auspices of a writer or editor, but I would disagree. The internal affects the external, and it doesn’t matter if the company consists of one person or five hundred.

When I think of companies with good morale, I think of places with clear direction and open communication, places like Vocus and Arment Dietrich. I’m sure the companies have their problems as all companies do, but I can tell that the employees like to work there. The companies themselves are invested in making the workplace a fun place. They applaud the successes of their employees. They make expectations clear. They champion causes that concern their employees. They understand that company morale is a day-in, day-out, minute-by-minute thing. It is not the result of one hit wonders.

For instance, some companies think that monthly meetings make for company morale. Monthly meetings may help with company morale but only if they are constructive and use open communication; that is, no code words or sideways glances between members of the upper management. Other companies think that t-shirts and polo shirts make for company morale. They don’t. They can help with company morale, but only if some morale already exists. Other companies try to build morale through company picnics and dinners. Such things are nice and can help with morale, but again, some morale already has to exist. If employees complain about having to go to a company function or worry about losing some of their weekly pay because of a function, then that function does not serve company morale. It undercuts it.

If those things don’t necessarily create company morale, what does? Open communication does. Vision, organization, and clear expectations build it. Company morale is found in celebrating each employee and giving employees the opportunity to use and hone their skills. It’s sustained by giving employees the information and resources they need to do their jobs. Company morale is not found in semi-regular meetings, t-shirts, or occasional company functions. Company morale must be an all-pervasive thing, not an afterthought. When it is, employees feel secure, and they champion their companies. They communicate with people outside the company. They market the company and its products or services without even knowing that’s what they’re doing.

Photo: Bernard Pollack (CC BY 2.0)

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Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media and the founder of Write Right. She's a copywriter, editor, poet, and artist. You can find Erin on .

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14 comments
rdopping
rdopping

Amen, sister!

I work in a company of 600 people across 4 offices and previously one of the same size. Where I am now the company has an awesome company wide culture and the previous one had an awesome local culture but there were many communication issues which, over time, made me dislike my role and position in the firm. Bye, bye.

You couldn't be more right. The best way to maintain a positive culture (and morale) is to communicate with your employees. That and lead by example. That's it. Simple but not easy to do. Basically all employees right from the ownership on down has to be on the same page and the only way to make that happen is to stay informed.

Great thoughts and like I said, bang on!

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

The places I've been that have had the best morale were those where your responsibility was clear, and the owners did everything they could to help you be successful. 

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg

In the places that I've worked where there was high company morale, it usually came from managers who genuinely liked their jobs and the people they had hired.

Latest blog post: Touched: Ch 9

geoffliving
geoffliving

I have worked with a lot of companies as a consultancy, and Vocus does have a fun culture. I enjoy the time I get to spend there.

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@rdopping You touch on a great point: lead by example. Yes. If the upper management isn't providing a good example or is undercutting efforts, nothing good will come of it. Employees only will become embittered or increasingly cynical.

Latest blog post: How to Stay the Course

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@barrettrossie Yes! Clearly defined roles and expectations. Not that those things can't be altered or adapted, but they need to have some scope to them at the outset. 

My favorite bosses are the ones who push me to that next level. They know I can do it; I just need the opportunity to prove it to myself.

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@geoffliving It must be a fun place if you and Jason get to rap. :)

I guess I'm obsessed with company culture for a couple of reasons. One has to do with the hope that if Write Right does grow into something larger than a one-person show that I would be a good leader and employer. Another reason is that I've seen how difficult it is to implement a marketing strategy - any strategies, for that matter - when a place is falling to pieces internally.

magriebler
magriebler

@Erin F.  You are so right: t-shirts and rah-rah meetings do not a culture make. Clarity about roles, expectations and outcomes help employees feel secure and motivated. I wish more organizations understood that. It's nice to see that you do!

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

@magriebler You mean, the idea of a "boss" buying the team lunch and a t-shirt, telling them how much he loves them, then treating them like children when the get back to the office doesn't appeal to you? 

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