Everything you need to know about the improvement of employee morale. Employee morale is the enthusiasm and zeal and willingness on employees towards their job and organisation, individually or through group effort.

Thus measuring their morale will mean measuring of enthusiasm, zeal and willingness. All these are abstract and not physical qualities. Therefore their quantitative measurement is not possible.

Great enthusiasm, average enthusiasm, low enthusiasm or no enthusiasm may be the terms which may represent the extent of their existence.

Some of the measures undertaken to improve employee morale are:-


1. Grievances – their Emergence and Redressal 2. Direct Observation 3. Study of Statistics and Records 4. Providing Suggestion Boxes 5. Open Door Policy 6. Personal Counselling 7. Surveys and a Few Others.

Measures for Improving Employee Morale

How to Improve Employee Morale – 7 Measures: Grievances, Direct Observation, Study of Statistics and Records and a Few Others

Employee morale is the enthusiasm and zeal and willingness on employees towards their job and organisation, individually or through group effort. Thus measuring their morale will mean measuring of enthusiasm, zeal and willingness. All these are abstract and not physical qualities. Therefore their quantitative measurement is not possible. Great enthusiasm, average enthusiasm, low enthusiasm or no enthusiasm may be the terms which may represent the extent of their existence.

Now again there are no standards to which these can be compared because great, high, average and low are relative terms. If ‘one’ is taken as standard even ‘four’ will be high. On the other hand of ‘five’ is taken as standard ‘four’ will represent lower side. It is, therefore, very difficult to measure the morale, But the management must know the level of existing morale.

Secondly morale is not a stagnant element. It goes on changing. It is the need of management to maintain high level of morale in the employees as it is closely related to its progress. Thus it is very essential for the management to assess the level of morale in its employees.


Morale is combined, complex and cumulative effect of so many elements. If these elements move to negative side, morale, which is the effect will also be lowered. This low morale is indicated by rise in complaints, increase in grievances, increased absenteeism etc. Thus if these elements are continuously assessed such assessment will indicate the movement and existence of morale. Measuring the morale, therefore, becomes assessment of these factors.

It can be measured as follows:

Measure # 1. Grievances – their Emergence and Redressal:

Grievances against the job, supervisor and the organisation directly affects the morale of employees. Thus the speed of rising grievances and the pace of their redressal, enable the management to assess the morale. Less number of grievances and their speedy redressal represents high level of morale. But here also the mental set up of employees may not allow some employees to put forth their grievances.

Measure # 2. Direct Observation:

There are people who are shy at expressing themselves. They even do not speak out their sufferings. Naturally they accept whatsoever comes. But such an acceptance by them has a silent effect on their mental set up. This knowingly or unknowingly appears in their attitude and performance. Such situations lower down their morale. Only their behavioural attitude is the indication of their low morale e.g. an employee along with his junior one was being considered for promotion.


Luckily or unluckily the second was promoted. The first did not express his disappointment. But then his attitude towards performance and towards organisation was diversely affected as he was losing his morale. If the management wants to maintain high morale, it must take remedial measures to restore his morale. Here it is possible to understand him only through close observation by supervisors.

Second aspect of this is that the supervisors and executives are supposed to have intimate relationship with their subordinates. In such a situation these supervisors or executives can well sense the attitude of subordinates. They can nicely translate this and express their opinion about the attitude, feelings, satisfaction prevailing in their subordinates. The management should train their supervisor and executives in this direction.

The supervisors are well acquainted with regular behaviour and attitude of their subordinates. Whenever they sense a fall in these they can offer motivations to them and can try to stop the fall and can change the trend to rise. Thus observation is one of the ways to measure the morale.

Measure # 3. Study of Statistics and Records:

We know that high morale reduces the complaints, grievances, absenteeism, accidents, transfer requests and such other matters, which are the outcome of prevalence of low morale. Statistics and records of all such matters are nicely maintained. A periodical analysis of these is made. If such an analysis reveals rise in such matters it can be the indication of flowering morale in the employees.

Measure # 4. Providing Suggestion Boxes:

It is not always possible for the employees to express their grievances. Rather they feel shy in doing this and may feel that their expression may spoil their record, if this expression is not taken in its true spirit and sense. Many times the workers have their own ways of overcoming the difficulties in performance, but they may not be according to the procedures laid down by the supervisors.

In such situation, though the productivity is affected by these difficulties they avoid giving their suggestions as they are not sure about the attitude of the supervisors. They may feel that supervisors may take it otherwise. It is therefore, suggested that a suggestion box may be kept handy and the employees be informed that they can put their suggestions in writing in such box, even without mentioning their name and putting their signature.

If the number of suggestions is on increase the management can understand that there is some lacuna which in turn is affecting the overall morale of the employee. These suggestions may be discussed and paid sufficient heed to by them.

Measure # 5. Open Door Policy:

Open door policy means keeping the doors of top executives open for the employees to approach them and put forth their grievances. This is a democratic way of giving equal importance to all. This facility itself can add to boosting the morale. Under this policy top executives inform, through communications to their employees that they can see the people at top management and put forth their feelings, dissatisfaction, grievances before them.

The executives, in turn get complete information and viewpoints of workers, through discussion. This policy helps the management in assessment of employee morale.


This policy, though sounds very nice, is seldom gets operated not because of the top executives but because of inferiority complex in the employees. There is always a difference in intellectual level, mannerism, rank in the status of executives and general employees. Therefore the employees hesitate to directly approach the top bosses. Secondly direct approach to the top bosses ignores the middle level like supervisors, foremen etc. The employees always fear that their doing so may annoy this middle level.

Even then, if this policy is operated without any fear, it is one of the prominent methods of assessing employee morale.

Measure # 6. Personal Counselling:

Shyness and hesitation on the part of employees prevent them to open up regarding their dissatisfaction. If a third person who does not belong to the chain of command and who has authority to approach proper persons/bosses to redress their grievances, is appointed the employees may open up themselves before him. Such a person is counsellor. He basically is a trained psychologist. He does not belong to the chain of command even then is a staff member.

This counsellor, himself, approaches the worker and discusses with them their problems. He arrives at certain conclusions regarding the dissatisfaction in them. The more is the degree of dissatisfaction the lower is the degree of morale. He then enlists all the reasons and submits them to higher authorities.

Measure # 7. Surveys:


Surveys is collecting the information from almost all corners either through personal discussions or through questionnaires. If this method of survey is undertaken to collect reasons for dissatisfaction. It may reveal so many things affecting morale. Such a survey of attitude and opinion can discover conflicts and dissatisfaction and thus enables to assess morale.

A comprehensive questionnaire is prepared by experts by including suggestive as well as clear cut questions regarding the elements affecting satisfaction. Number of answers are given. These may be at least four. Such a printed questionnaire is handed over to each employee.

The employee, in turn, has to go through the questions and answer by simply ticking an answer which he thinks proper. These answers are further tabulated and processed to arrive at collection of information that has an effect on employee morale and thus assess the degree of morale.

This method is more time-consuming and keeps number of staff members engaged in this. It is much more expensive too. An answer given to a question today may depend upon prevailing circumstances and may not remain the same after some period because the circumstances then may be different.


Other Methods:

Apart from the above methods the management may resort to group meetings, scheduled interviews, collective bargaining, exit interviews etc. These methods may enable the management to know the points of dissatisfaction. The more the points of such dissatisfaction the lower is the degree of morale.

Finally morale is the knowing and /or unknowing effect of dissatisfaction on the behavioural attitude of employees. Thus finding out the points and elements which led to dissatisfaction is the proper way of assessing the morale. Performance and productivity may not bear the impact of only morale. But these things can be affected by so many other things. Thus only rise and fall in performance rating and productivity cannot be the criteria of assessing the morale.

How to Improve Employee Morale – 7 Important Factors: Removal of Grievance, Disposal of Grievance, The Constitution of the Grievance Committee and a Few Others

The role of morale was recognised quite early in military organisations where four elements of battle efficiency were recognised – the number of men, arms, regimentation and morale. Of ‘these four, Napolean is said to have attached maximum weightage to morale for winning a battle.

As a result of industrial revolution and growth of large scale industries/business organisations, the concept of morale has been received as a strong driving force. Even though highly intangible and difficult to quantify, morale is a powerful force in an organisation. Workers and groups with high morale are more productive than workers and groups with low morale.

Morale can be termed as a mental condition of an individual or groups that decides their attitudes and limits the degree to which they accept leadership or responsibility. Sometimes an individual may have poor personal morale and yet, as a member of a group, he may have a high morale.


Measuring morale occasionally, and continuously keeping up with the process of morale building, in other words, the process of integrating interests, are the important tasks of leadership. Good morale is ultimately the result of successful leadership.

Morale can be measured directly or indirectly. Direct measures include discussions, attitude surveys, interviews and observations. Indirect measures include analysis of grievance cases, personnel turnover, accidents, absenteeism, breakdowns, etc.

The results of surveys serve a very useful purpose. They bring to light the areas of weak spots, training needs, grievances, weak policies of the management and so on. The very fact that the management is seeking the opinion of employees, often improves the existing morale.

This determines the acceptance of leadership. An industrial society can be overthrown if there is destruction of the morale of its industrial population.

To keep the morale of employees at a satisfactory level, it is necessary that the top management should know the factors that stimulate or depress morale. A judicious use of these factors helps in keeping fluctuations in the level of morale under control.

1. Removal of Grievance:

No system, however meticulously designed for a group, can take care of all the needs and aspirations of its members. The problem becomes more complex with large organisations where the possibility of communication gap or failure widens.


Grievances and complaints of employees are indicative of employer-employee relations in an organisation. These are primary manifestations of workers’ dissatisfaction against working conditions, terms of employment, management failures, etc., which, if not attended to in time, may create explosive situations.

Absence of grievance in an organisation is not necessarily a healthy sign. It is more likely that repressive measures are working in the organisation as a result of which freedom of expression, showing dissatisfaction with the decision of superiors do not exist. It may also be an indicator of a suppressive environment which may be charged with emotions and may explode with far-reaching consequences.

A time-bound effective grievance redressal procedure provides a formalised channel for seeking redressal of such grievances, and obviating the need for resorting to agitational approach. A grievance procedure is therefore a formal system of steps through which a dissatisfied employee can take his complaints to various levels of the management for redressal.

There are three objectives behind setting up a grievance procedure.

These are:

(i) To settle the grievance of the employees in the shortest possible time;


(ii) At the lowest possible level of authority; and

(iii) The system should provide for various stages so that the aggrieved employee can seek redressal even from the highest authority.

For this, let us see as to how a grievance arises? It arises when an employee feels that some sort of injustice has been done to him or he has been treated differently.

It may be a case of:

a. Promotions and seniority

b. Amenities/working conditions


c. Disciplinary sections/fines/recoveries

d. Terms of employment

e. Compensation

f. Transfer

g. Leave

h. Victimisation/managerial failures

i. Payments and miscellaneous other matters

Except for those that are directly related to the formulation of management policies.

2. Disposal of Grievance:

An effective way of quick and rightful disposal of a grievance is the institution of a 2 or 3-tier grievance procedure.

The mechanism on which a 3-tier grievance procedure works in a large industrial undertaking is discussed below:


A plant is divided into suitable administrative zones. An aggrieved employee discusses his grievance with the labour officer of the zone. In case he is not satisfied with the explanation of the labour officer, he puts his grievance before the personnel officer of the department, in writing. The grievance application is submitted in a prescribed format called STAGE-I form.

The personnel officer examines the grievance on the basis of available facts/records and the prescribed rules of the company.

If the grievance is found tenable, action is initiated at his level to redress it within a week.


In case an employee either does not get a reply to his Stage-I grievance within 10 days or is not satisfied with the reply given to him, he puts in a Stage-II grievance to his head of department in the prescribed form.

The head of the department examines the case carefully with the assistance of his personnel officer. In case he finds it tenable, suitable action for its redressal is taken by him within the framework of the authority delegated to him.


If either no reply to his Stage-II grievance is received within 15 days or he is still not satisfied with the reply given to him, the employee can submit his grievance at Stage-Ill directly to the secretary of the grievance committee constituted by the management for this purpose.

The secretary of the committee calls for the relevant records and comments of the concerned departments and, after careful examination, puts up the case before the grievance committee.

The secretary can settle certain types of Stage-II grievances relating to the grant of contributory provident fund loan, correction of CPF account, non-payment of dues, etc., at his level. He immediately takes up the matter with the concerned authorities directly and tries to settle it without waiting for their clearance with the grievance committee.

In case the matter recorded in the grievance application is not clear, either the concerned employee is called by the secretary for further information or preliminary reports on such cases are called for from the concerned departments.

Grievances relating to promotions and major punishments can, however, be taken up within 30 days from the date of issue of the promotion orders directly at Stage-Ill level, without necessarily ex­hausting Stage-I and II levels.

The above measures obviously help in settling such cases expeditiously at the lower levels.

3. The Constitution of the Grievance Committee:

A. Operation Department:

1. Chairman – Works manager

2. Representative of the personal manager – Not below the rank of Asst. personnel manager

3. Representative of the financial adviser – Not below the rank of Dy. financial adviser

4. Two representatives of the recognized union.

5. Secretary, Grievance Committee – No. 2, i.e., Assistant Personnel Manager

B. Administrative Departments:

1. Chairman – Personnel Manager or Finance Adviser

2. Representative of either Personnel Manager or Financial Adviser (If the Personnel Manager presides, there will be no other representative from the personnel department; similarly, if the Financial Adviser presides, there will be no other representative from the finance department).

3. Two representatives of the recognised union.

4. Secretary, Grievance Committee

C. Construction Department:

1. Chairman – Project Manager or Chief Engineer (Construction)

2. Representative of the Personnel Manager – Not below the rank of Asst. Personnel Manager

3. Representative of the Financial Adviser – Not below the rank of Dy. Financial Adviser

4. Two representatives of the recognised union.

5. Secretary, Grievance Committee.

In the meeting of the Grievance Committee, all facts and relevant records are presented for examination by the members of the committee. Thereafter, the committee tries, as a whole, to decide the case unanimously. However, when no unanimous agreement is recorded, the dissenting views are recorded and a detailed note of dissent is obtained from the dissenting member or members.

Such cases of dissent are later submitted to the General Manager/Managing Director for his final decision, along with the original records and relevant facts. Dissent cases are generally few if the case is decided on merit and not on personalities.

After the finalisation of the minutes of the committee, the decision is communicated to the department concerned and also to the aggrieved employee by the Secretary of the committee.

5. Revision Petition:

If the worker still does not feel satisfied with the decision of the Grievance Committee, he can submit his revision petition to the General Manager within 10 days of the date of receipt of the decision. The revision petition is also examined by an independent officer. It is generally the Vigilance Officer or any other officer nominated by the General Manager.

Even the Personnel Manager looks into such cases personally and only then is the case submitted to the General Manager for his decision. His decision, which is final, is communicated to the applicant by an officer other than the Secretary of the Grievance Committee. The decision of the General Manager is required to be communicated to the aggrieved within 30 days of the receipt of his revision petition.

An employee may seek the assistance of a recognised union in presenting or discussing the case at any stage or even at the stage of revision petition/appeal.

Some of the salient features of the system are:

(i) Grievances pertaining to policy matters, such as grant of incentive bonus to non-entitled categories; revision/upgrading of scales or posts; applicability of different service rules; fixation/revision of line of promotion; cases pending before the courts; promotion cases from non­executive to executive cadre, etc., are not considered by the Grievance Committee.

(ii) Unanimous recommendations of the committee are normally implemented by the management if not arrived at. If a unanimous decision is not arrived at, the General Manager’s decision is final.

(iii) When a grievance is pending for decision before the Grievance Committee, the worker is not normally expected to resort to conciliation/adjudication.

(iv) Faithful compliance of such a procedure as laid above leads to industrial harmony.

6. Counselling:

Counselling also helps in improving discipline which is necessary to maintain orderliness. Problems like late coming, disobedience, wilful absenteeism, drunkenness while on duty can be rectified by-

(i) Private counselling/advising the employee to change his habits.

(ii) Verbal counsel by explaining the consequences of failure to heed the advice being rendered.

(iii) Counselling in writing and issuing warnings asking him to explain his conduct.

Lay-off, downgradation or discharge of employees should not be hurriedly exercised without building up a case even if it is within the competence area of the manager.

Sometimes an employee, because of reasons such as family difficulties, health, financial imbalance, social commitments, housing etc., may be tense and not able to concentrate on his work.

He may feel greatly relieved if there is some superior in whom he can confide or whose advice he can seek. The counsellor should be a person who is trained to listen, counsel and report the facts to the management without either embarrassing the employee or making a commitment to him. Sometimes little help or coordination enables him to get over the situation or his confused way of thinking. He may feel grateful and regain his failing interest in the work.

Such counsel may not always bring good results. Sometimes it may result in an adverse decision, depending on how the counsellor handles the situation.

An employee may be subjected to many outside and inside forces stimulating or vitiating his mental condition or working efforts.

Some typical negative forces are:

a. Mental condition arising out of failure to achieve some desired/coveted aim, loss of a family member, housing, etc.

b. Defeatist attitude arising out of his failure at work, love, home life (affecting his attitude towards work).

c. Physical condition causing temporary setbacks, or aging or some emotional instability.

d. Change of interest leading to wishful thinking, desire for change and so on.

Some of the corrective measures that may emerge from counselling are:

a. Self-realisation of the forces acting on the individual.

b. Change in work and habits.

c. Outlets for repressed desires.

In case the immediate supervisor has the calibre to handle such cases, he should do so himself, or the Personnel Manager or his assistants can play this role more effectively.

7. Suggestion System:

The suggestion system can pay back the company in many ways for the time and effort spent in its operation. Many companies have set up suggestion systems and give handsome rewards when the suggestions are accepted.

The plan is generally operated as under:

1. A senior officer is designated as the chairman of the suggestion system. A committee is set up by him to scrutinise the suggestions received. The committee, constituted after careful consideration, includes personnel from various disciplines.

2. A comprehensive suggestion system is drawn up, and approval of the management is obtained and published. It is given wide publicity. The system covers all aspects of the scheme.

3. Decisions are taken very promptly as delay lowers the effectiveness of the system. When suggestions are turned down or not accepted, the secretary of the suggestion scheme normally explains the reasons for it to the suggester and thanks him for his initiative.

4. Awards are given wide publicity. The recipient of an award may be photographed with the chairman of the committee. An annual bulletin on the suggestion scheme should be published in which such photographs can be included.

5. Suggestion boxes are set up at various points in the factory. They should be distinctly different from a letter box in appearance. They should be cleared once in a week. The day is generally fixed and printed on the suggestion box.

6. Some establishments keep the suggestion form anonymous. Awards are scrutinised by suggestion numbers. It is only after a decision has been taken that the person holding the token is asked to disclose his identity. In some cases, names and other details of the suggester are kept in a sealed envelope along with the suggestions form. It is opened only after a decision has been taken. This is done to keep the system free from the effects of personal bias.