A blog about reputation, marketing and employee morale.

Get more bang for your buck by increasing employee morale

Posted by Janet Smith on May 21, 2008

Employers that don’t encourage employees to be innovative pretty much deserve what they get, which is employees who don’t really care about their jobs or the success of the companies they work for. In my last post I referred to an interview with Oscar-winning Pixar director Brad Bird, found at mckinsey.com. Brad was asked about the importance of morale at work.

Here’s what he says: “In my experience, the thing that has the most significant impact on a movie’s budget—but never shows up in a budget—is morale. If you have low morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about 25 cents of value. If you have high morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about $3 of value. Companies should pay much more attention to morale.

“Before I got the chance to make films myself, I worked on a number of badly run productions and learned how not to make a film. I saw directors systematically restricting people’s input and ignoring any effort to bring up problems. As a result, people didn’t feel invested in their work, and their productivity went down. As their productivity fell, the number of hours of overtime would increase, and the film became a money pit.”

It seems so obvious, doesn’t it?

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  1. Gloria Kottick

    I was thinking that it is also necessary to root out the bad apples in a company, whom no amount of praise would reach. These people can ruin morale as much as an insensitive boss. For example, I just read that employee theft exceeds $400 billion dollars annually. Perhaps very careful hiring should precede the employee appreciation plan. With those two prongs, a great organization should be the outcome.

  2. Drew Schiller

    I agree with you, Gloria, that careful hiring is important. The amount of employee theft you mention is enough to convince me of that!

    That said, you can’t ever hire perfectly. It has been my experience that if you focus all your energy on a happy, positive work environment, the bad apples take care of themselves by either leaving or getting themselves fired.

  3. Mike

    Several years ago I worked at a company where a member of the senior management team came to work and played computer solitaire all day. It became apparent that this person could afford to “play” because he had consultants doing his work. A dedicated, loyal and tireless employee, this affected me tremendously and significantly lowered my morale. It really began to take its toll on me on a daily basis so I took immediate steps to pursue other job opportunities. My boss and several other members of the senior management team were also aware of this and they did nothing about it. At the time, my boss said that it’s been going on for years.

    How does one deal with this situation? Is this common?

  4. Janet Smith

    I’d like to think that the extreme situation you described isn’t too common. Most people in senior management have a desire to contribute to the organization. But we’ve probably all had jobs where some people just don’t pull their weight, and it’s tolerated. If the folks at the top put up with it…even when they know it’s affecting the morale of their employees…it’s definitely time to look for another job. I’m glad you got out of there and hope you made it clear that you were leaving specifically because they didn’t deal with the slacker. Hope you are now working for someone who appreciates your dedication and hard work!