Is Your Employee Morale Lagging?

Watch for These Signs of Low Morale

You strive for a fair and equitable workplace to help attract and retain employees, drive productivity, and comply with federal, state, and local laws. When employee morale begins to suffer, the signs aren’t always obvious. Here are a few to watch out for:

Increase in Turnover

Employees who feel they are treated unfairly are more likely to quit and seek employment elsewhere. Monitor turnover and conduct exit interviews to find out why employees are leaving. Use this information to identify changes you can make to improve your work environment and limit future turnover.

Vague Exit Interviews

Some people may be reluctant to share the true reasons for their departure since they fear it will affect their eligibility for rehire, or that it will result in a negative reference to a prospective employer. To encourage employees to be forthcoming, reassure them that their honest feedback will help with workplace improvements and that their exit interview report will remain anonymous. During the exit interview, pose open-ended and multi-choice questions, such as: “What prompted you to resign?” and “How often did your supervisor demonstrate fairness: almost always, sometimes, never?” Allow the individual to speak freely and ask follow-up questions as needed.

Lack of Employee Referrals

If your people aren’t happy working for you, they are unlikely to refer people they know to come work for you. To find out where you stand, use surveys to ask employees how likely they are to recommend your company as a great place to work and ask them to provide the reasons why. Additionally, consider whether your employer brand is in line with your policies and practices and what you promote.

Pay Disparities

Even if you cannot pay employees as much as other employers can, make sure they’re paid fairly when compared with other employees in your medical practice. Additionally, ensure that your pay practices don’t discriminate on the basis of any protected characteristic, such as sex or race. In some cases, discrimination might be unintentional. For example, if an employer uses a candidate’s pay history to decide how much to offer him/her, it could perpetuate pay discrimination from a previous employer. Note: Some jurisdictions prohibit employers from asking about pay history prior to making a job offer. Work with your legal counsel to audit your pay practices regularly to make sure any disparities in pay are justified and lawful.

Sudden Employee Absenteeism or Lower Productivity

Don’t assume that all absenteeism and productivity issues are a result of workers trying to skip work, slack off, or abuse the system. Track attendance and productivity closely and if there are issues, meet with the employee in private, be clear about your concerns and expectations, and give the employee an opportunity to explain before deciding whether disciplinary action is appropriate.

Performance Reviews too Good (or Bad) to be True

If supervisors give every person high marks or every employee low ratings, this can leave employees feeling that performance isn’t rewarded as it should be. Performance reviews should generally recognize good work, as well as provide constructive feedback. Make sure your reviews accurately reflect employees’ performance and that supervisors are evaluating employees fairly and on legitimate, job-related factors. Train supervisors (or yourself as the practice owner) on how to set appropriate performance goals and provide effective feedback.

Final Thoughts

Give employees ample opportunities to provide feedback about your practice, the work environment, and supervisors, without fear of retaliation. Additionally, provide multiple avenues for employees to file complaints about alleged violations of practice policy. When you or your workers identify a potential issue, launch a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation and take corrective action when appropriate.

Additional Resources on Employee Management

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