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Many companies are oblivious to employee morale. This is the surest way to make good employees walk out of the door and compromise success. If you aren’t sure about what kills employee morale, you can get informed on time and avoid making some serious mistakes.

What are the biggest morale killers at work?

While many companies complain about their employees leaving, very few of them actually invest resources into diminishing the aspects that kill employee morale at work. They also fail to realise that employee morale impacts how companies run, productivity rates, and the ability to retain talent. Here are the biggest killers of employee morale that companies should avoid:

1. Overworking people

One great way to destroy employee morale is to overwork them. While it’s tempting for managers to find the best staff and rely on them for multiple tasks, this is just another trap that companies can fall into. Overworking good employees can make them feel like they are being punished for their performance, which is deeply counterproductive.

While good employees show eagerness to take on additional work and help the company grow, this can kill their morale. In the short term, this might not seem such a big problem compared to having quick results delivered. However, in the longer term, this can lead to employee burnout and poor mental health. For example, research from Stanford University shows that employee productivity declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours. Even worse, after 55 hours worked per week, productivity is so low that employees don’t get anything out of working more.

Talented employees will take on extra work that challenges and inspires them, but they won’t stay in a company if the workload suffocates them. Therefore, if managers are still wondering what kills employee morale, the first thing they can look at is employee workload.

2. Threats of firing

This is a very bad strategy that many employers use to keep employees in line or improve their performance. While some people might respond well to fear, this is just a sure way to kill employee morale at work and to invite good staff to walk out of the door.

Threatening employees with firing is nothing but a lazy and shortsighted way of motivating people. Those who feel disposable will make all efforts to leave such workplaces as soon as possible and find a workplace that values them.

3. Giving vague and incomplete instructions

Clarity is essential in the workplace. It ensures that everyone knows what to do and where to aim. When employees wander aimlessly trying to accomplish goals that they’re not even clear on, workplace morale will suffer.

One ‘great’ way to slowly but surely destroy employee morale is to provide vague instructions – or even worse – leave people unsure of what to do. However, it is immensely frustrating for employees to not know what to aim for and even be reprimanded for not meeting the right goals.

4. Micromanaging

There are few employee morale killers worse than micromanaging staff. When people feel like their every move is scrutinized, their stress levels skyrocket. Nobody wants to have their work second-guessed or analysed to the very last detail – as this would be a clear sign of mistrust.

Micromanaging destroys employee morale because it tells people that you can’t trust them or their abilities. This type of discouragement is sometimes enough to make someone dread the idea of going to work, even if they are passionate about their job.

5. Holding people back

It is very frustrating for employees to feel like they can’t put their ideas into action in the workplace. This is not very damaging to employee morale, but it also deters the chances of attracting future top talent.

Every once in a while, managers should ensure that they offer opportunities for employees to put their ideas into action and give them credit for doing that.

Holding potential back is nothing but a sure way that employee morale will be damaged. Instead of stifling chances for growth, companies free the way for their workforce to thrive and achieve their maximum potential.


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Summing it up

If you want to know the surest ways to destroy employee morale, look no further than these very simple actions. While an encouraging, open, and positive work environment can create the right conditions for someone to grow professionally, doing these 5 things will do exactly the opposite – destroy employee morale and eventually make people leave. If you are an organization that cares about its people (and implicitly its growth), try to avoid making these major mistakes:

  • Overworking people
  • Threatening to fire employees
  • Giving vague and incomplete instructions
  • Micromanaging staff
  • Holding people back

How to look after your employee’s mental health

Are you interested in improving workplace wellbeing? SupportRoom offers flexible mental health support for employees through online therapy, self-help tools, and wellbeing monitoring. Besides, it provides leaders with the opportunity to track what’s happening in the workplace and see where employees’ main stressors come from. This way, you can implement changes and mental health initiatives knowing exactly what’s behind the scenes.

You can find out more information about SupportRoom here. If you want to find out how we can bring mental support to your organisation, book a call here, and let’s get to know each other.

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