Low Morale at the Office? Here’s How to Get the Team Fired Up

Some months ago I spent some time catching up with my friend Chineye. The last time we met was during the National Youth Service (NYSC) year. Then she was an aspiring human resource manager who had just bagged degrees in human resource management from different universities in the UK. We spent a lot of time reminiscing over our youth service days and catching up on all the goings on in our lives since then.


Now after several years of experience, Chineye is a seasoned human resource consultant. As we talked for hours on end, the conversation steered to more formal topics as we began to discuss business related issues. Employee motivation was one of the things we happened to discuss that day.


She told me a story about a friend of her’s who was a competent project manager at a software development company. He was recruited a few months ago to his current company, and was already thinking of looking elsewhere. “I don’t get feedback from my manager,” he complained to her. With no sense of how he fit into the company’s overall goals or how he was performing, his motivation was down. “I feel more connected at this new company,” he confessed, “I’m engaged in the work, I connect better with my colleagues and get periodic feedback from my manager


There are different factors that can affect employee motivation as one size doesn’t fit all. Chineye and I were able to identify some tips and strategies for retaining employees which I will share below.


1. Give credit where it’s due


Appreciating your employees does not necessarily mean you have to pamper them every time. It means you should openly recognize their good work and commend them for it. It’s a psychological trick that makes them feel they are valued and respected. If Jide’s manager had shown some form of appreciation for his work, it’s possible he could have felt more comfortable with the job.


2. Show them you care


Every now and then employees are required to wear multiple hats and attend to responsibilities that are outside their core job description. This can be understandable if the hats are not too heavy and even when the hats become heavy, a reward can be attached to it.


Another way to show you care is listening. Listen to their ideas, suggestions and concerns. This creates a sense of trust and loyalty.

3. Train your employees


I was once worked at an organisation where employee morale seemed to dwindle a bit. Luckily enough, the situation was noticed early and something was done about it. A training opportunity came up and a few staff were selected to represent the company at the training. The training was held in another city and the representatives were excited about having to travel and lodge in a hotel for a few days.


They returned from the training glowing, pumped up and ready to hit the ground running. It was like they had been reborn. They quickly transferred the knowledge and enthusiasm from the training to other members of the team and the atmosphere around the office was a bit charged.

4. Spice things up occasionally


Team bonding activities and retreats can be a good way to keep employees motivated. It creates an environment where everyone can let their hair down and relax. Engaging in competitive activities also helps tighten the bond. Spicing things up introduces a refreshing experience to the team that helps them refocus and feel rejuvenated.


TIP: You don’t have to go all out when trying to spice things up. Sometimes little things like karaoke Friday at the office or games Friday at the office can do the trick.


5. Keep them busy


It’s easy to overlook junior members of the team because you are carried away with high priority tasks while your junior team dies of boredom. It’s important to keep every member of your team engaged. A junior employee can be assigned to help a senior employee with less sensitive responsibilities. This will be a good avenue for the junior employee to learn  new things while helping the senior employee focus on the critical issues.


Not every manager is good at motivating and the good ones are few and far between. This is partly because it isn’t something you can learn overnight. You can focus on doing some very basic things that make a big difference, such as listening, showing respect, and remembering that happiness matters, even at work.


Written by Genevieve Craig