Losing Productivity from Low Morale

To lower cost you can look at factors such as transportation, cost of goods, and facility expense, but a hidden cost lurking in your operating budget is reduced productivity caused by low employee morale.  Since the cost of labor is a big expense item for a distribution center, the impact of low productivity is significant. 

Keep reading to learn what signs to look for so you can identify low employee morale and take steps to improve it. You don’t have to fall victim to lost productivity!

Identifying Low Morale

To combat low employee morale, you must first identify it. Change in Attitude and Scarce Rewards are two of the signs noted in this quick read from staffing agency Robert Half on “5 Signs of Low Employee Morale in the Workplace and How to Counteract It.”

Changes in attitude will manifest themselves in a many ways, one of which is absenteeism. With time tracking systems you can partner with HR to research the repeat offenders and have targeted conversations to understand why people aren’t showing up to work. Seek to understand what’s causing the employee to not show up, it could be something as simple as being flexible in start time to accommodate a public transit schedule because that’s how the person gets to/from work. You won’t know until you ask.

In a distribution operation where it’s imperative to ship orders on time, recognizing and rewarding employees can become an afterthought. By the time the shift is over, everybody is tired and heading for the door and leaders (who are equally tired) aren’t thinking about giving high-fives for a job well done. If you’re not seeing rewards generously distributed for good work (especially after a long day), it’s an indicator you’ve got opportunity to improve morale.

3 Tips to Boost Morale

Supply chain leaders have several tools to increase engagement and improve morale. Begin by following these tips:

  1. Let employees know they’re appreciated. Every day.

    Have your leaders commit to talking with one employee each day to connect on a personal level and show appreciation. Leaders should use the employee’s name when addressing them. In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie states that “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” When leaders use names, they engage on a personal level and show respect, both of which will improve morale. To keep your leaders accountable, have them come to daily meetings and share which employees they talked to and what they learned.

  2. Reward high performers and invest in low performers.

    Rewarding your high performers will motivate them to keep working hard and will also motivate lower performers to improve their skills by setting an example for what good performance looks like. The reward you give could range from a sought-after parking spot to a cash bonus.

     It is equally important to spend time training low performing employees. When leaders take the time to train and demonstrate correct methods of a job, employees will know leaders care about their success and do not want them to fail. Be diligent in following up with low performing employees to make sure they improve and are ultimately a good fit for the company.

  3. Involve employees in continuous improvement.

    Your employees are the ones handling the units, operating the equipment, and facing obstacles in their job every day. Ask them what roadblocks they face each day that prevent them from being successful. Create a bulletin board where employee suggestions are posted. Assign each idea to a leader who is responsible for removing the roadblock and communicating the results on the board. Involving your employees in continuous improvement will not only help you solve hidden problems but will also empower your employees and show them you trust their judgement.

    We’ve created a guide to help get your employees involved with continuous improvement.

Mike Mullican