Thursday, June 04, 2020

Fairness, Age Can Play Major Roles in Employee Morale

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After several years that saw pay freezes, layoffs and cuts to benefits, it's not surprising that employee morale has taken a serious hit.

While employers can't always control economic conditions and are sometimes forced to make these hard choices, they're not powerless when it comes to boosting workplace morale, even in tough times, experts say.

One of the keys to employee morale is creating an atmosphere of fairness in the workplace, said Ben Dattner, author of "The Blame Game."  In a recent interview with Human Resource Executive Online, Dattner noted that feelings of inequity often stem from differences in pay and benefits.

"Research shows, interestingly . . . that employees may be satisfied with less money if they feel that the decision-making was fair," Dattner said.

The perception of fairness and good morale starts with employees' relationships with their direct supervisors, a new study by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and Buck Consultants suggests. According to, the research found that 44 percent of respondents said their direct boss had a very positive effect on employee engagement at their company, while 41 percent said their supervisor had a strongly negative impact on engagement. 

Employers also need to take heed of the demographics of their workforce. A new Deloitte survey finds that baby boomers are more dissatisfied with their employers than employees in other generations, and that can hamper engagement efforts, according to another HROE report.

"Many of [the baby boomers] have seen their colleagues downsized or forced into early retirement," Susan Ruhl of OI Partners, a Tennessee-based consulting firm, told HROE. "They feel as if they've plateaued, career-wise, in a younger person's world, and they're not sure where to go next in their jobs."

HR can refuel morale by offering more training opportunities for all generations. For instance, Ruhl suggests having boomers serve as mentors to younger workers. Mentoring programs can break down age barriers and make boomers feel valued in their jobs, she said.

Whether through a mentoring program, better employee communications or more perks, employers that step up efforts to boost morale in today's economy will reap rewards later, according to Bob Carr of Buck Consultants.

"One of the key findings of [the IABC-Buck survey] is that enhancing the organization's culture and work environment has become the respondents' highest ranked goal for employee engagement," Carr told "Organizations are committing themselves more deeply to effectively engaging their employees, knowing that this is the key to meeting their productivity, retention and overarching business goals."


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