Workplace Wellbeing

Employees Perform Better When Morale Is High. Here Are 5 Ways to Boost Team Morale in the Workplace.

By raising mental health awareness and prioritizing employee engagement, we can create a reimagined workplace that thrives on increased team morale.

Written by
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Kelsey Witmer
Senior Director, Employee Experience
Clinically reviewed by
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Two women in deep conversation at an office meeting

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    People, Culture, and HR leaders often focus on employee experience, engagement, and morale. 

    While strategies for experience and engagement typically revolve around connection, productivity, and motivation, morale is more personal. It’s our attitude—how happy and satisfied we feel. High morale boosts our resilience and recovery when facing stress and burnout, directly impacting our mental health at work.

    My personal experience with resilience and morale

    I want to share a personal story to highlight the importance of morale. As a mid-level manager in corporate HR, I was responsible for our onboarding processes, tackling inefficiencies that affected teamwork and new employees’ first weeks.

    We focused on our onboarding process in one of our monthly HR meetings dedicated to learning and improvement. My direct report, leading the discussion, faced resistance and defensiveness from senior leaders. When I stepped in to support her, I encountered the same reactions, and my manager, present on the call, did not intervene.

    This was the first time I felt unsupported by senior leaders, including my manager, who I believed should empower us to problem-solve without blame. Instead of frustration or anger, I felt deep sadness and shame. Less than two months later, I left for a new role at another company.

    This experience taught me two important lessons:

    1. The sadness from a negative work experience is deeper than mere frustration or overwhelm. It opened me to new opportunities, something I hadn’t considered before.
    2. If my manager had supported us, I would have felt more resilient and less sad and wouldn’t have looked for other job opportunities.

    Let’s go deeper into team morale, its relationship with mental health in the workplace, and what leaders can do to enhance it in our organizations.

    Workplace morale has been declining for 30 years

    More and more employees feel their work or workplace environment is harming their emotional well-being, mental health, and physical health.

    According to Psychology Today, statistics on work-related stress and emotional health have been worsening over the past 30 years. 

    A Deloitte and Workplace Intelligence survey found most employees report their well-being has either worsened or stayed the same. The survey also revealed that long work hours, heavy workloads, and stress are significant barriers to improving their well-being.

    How team morale impacts your organization

    Morale is the overall attitude or outlook employees have toward their work, their role, their employer—and how all this impacts their lives.

    A workplace with strong team morale has employees who feel valued, heard, and supported. They’re confident they can be vulnerable without fear of judgment or blame, more satisfied and engaged in their work, and more invested in their company’s success.

    A study on ResearchGate found that 30% of organizational commitment is determined by morale, emphasizing its crucial role in employee dedication and engagement.

    Additionally, an article on LineZero shows that high morale is linked to lower turnover rates. Enhanced employee morale fosters a more committed workforce, reducing the likelihood of employees disengaging or quietly quitting and negatively impacting the bottom line.

    The connection between morale and mental health awareness

    By raising awareness about mental health and prioritizing employee engagement, we can create a reimagined workplace that thrives on increased team morale.

    A healthier work environment benefits employers and employees, directly linking to an organization’s success and profitability. When employees feel their well-being is supported, they become more productive, engaged, loyal, and mentally and physically healthier.

    It can be challenging to reverse once poor morale spreads and permeates the workplace culture. That’s why HR, People leaders, and team managers who are trained to recognize the signs of poor morale and emotional well-being are invaluable.

    Creating an ecosystem that shapes team morale

    The Workforce Institute at UKG, a global think tank, surveyed 3,400 people across 10 countries to highlight the role of jobs, leadership, and managers (or People leaders) in supporting mental health at work and beyond.

    In today’s dynamic workplace, we profoundly influence our team members’ mental and emotional well-being. With this greater responsibility, leadership is tasked with cultivating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture—leading by example—where every employee feels valued and supported.

    Encouraging team leaders and HR colleagues to be open about their mental health challenges can be transformative, especially when fostering a new workplace culture that prioritizes mental health.

    How leaders can boost team morale in the workplace

    Stay curious

    Leading with curiosity helps us check our assumptions, foster empathy, and encourage open communication. Debrief painful career moments regularly and consistently check in with team members.

    Consider asking these questions in a one-on-one or team setting to gauge morale:

    • I noticed you seem a little stressed lately. What is your biggest challenge, and how can I support you?
    • How are you feeling? I’m here to listen if you want to discuss anything work-related.
    • What are you feeling most proud of right now?
    • What is something you are grateful for in your personal and professional life?
    • What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
    • What is your superpower? What is a unique strength you possess?

    Model healthy behavior

    Modeling healthy behavior promotes trust and psychological safety while fostering connection.

    Creating a sense of psychological safety within an inclusive workplace—where employees feel comfortable having difficult conversations with leaders—builds greater confidence that they’re being heard, valued, and not judged. This, in turn, improves morale.

    The more leaders initiate conversations about mental health, the less stigma employees will feel. According to Forbes, employees who feel their voice is heard are almost five times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

    Prioritize team connection

    The frequency with which employees collaborate and interact is crucial for boosting team morale. Intentional time spent together strengthens team dynamics and nurtures a true sense of community, connectivity, and belonging among employees. On the flip side, 33% of HR professionals say poor team collaboration decreases employee morale.

    Stronger relationships and friendships make work more enjoyable and productive. According to a Workplace Friendship & Happiness Survey by Wildgoose, 57% of employees say having a best friend at work makes their job more enjoyable, 22% feel more productive with friends, and 21% say friendship makes them more creative.

    Promote culture building and supportive programs

    It’s essential for HR leaders to implement company policies and practices to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Ensuring all employees feel valued and respected requires regular diversity training and educational initiatives to nurture a safe and inclusive work environment.

    A recent global survey by The Workforce Institute at UKG found that “with purpose and trust, 88% of employees look forward to work and are more likely to contribute to their company’s success.” The findings also highlight the pivotal role People leaders play in supporting team morale, and by extension, mental health in the workplace.

    Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are an excellent way for employees to engage and establish stronger relationships, fostering a more inclusive workplace environment.

    Emphasize employee recognition and appreciation

    Asking “How would you like to be recognized?” is a simple yet powerful way for People leaders to foster a culture of gratitude.

    Team morale improves when leadership regularly appreciates employees’ efforts and contributions. Recognizing employees can easily be incorporated into each team meeting with a quick shout out. Larger-scale gratitude practices can be showcased in company-wide digital communications or displayed publicly.

    Another important aspect is professional development. Allowing employees to grow and expand their skill set through company-sponsored training programs delivers a return on investment by enhancing loyalty, engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction.

    Team morale and mental health prove to be immeasurable for organizations

    The good news is that more organizations are prioritizing employee well-being and offering comprehensive mental health benefits that boost productivity, engagement, morale, and overall well-being.

    Investing in your employees’ morale and mental health delivers a validated return on investment, making a strong case for including a quality mental health solution in employee benefit packages.

    Spring Health is a leader in transformational workplace mental healthcare, using cutting-edge technology, data insights, and personalized organizational support through SpringWorks, part of our dual-pillar strategy for mental healthcare.

    Energize your organization for peak productivity with Energy Intelligence—discover the impact on recruiting, talent development, team building, and mental health.

    About the Author
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    Kelsey Witmer
    Senior Director, Employee Experience

    Kelsey Witmer is the Head of Employee Experience at Spring Health, where she specializes in employee engagement, change management, and fostering a vibrant organizational culture. With a passion for creating positive experiences at work, Kelsey leverages her expertise to drive impactful initiatives that enhance employee satisfaction and productivity. Outside of work, she enjoys exploring the NYC, practicing pilates, and traveling to new destinations.

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