Employee morale is a leader's responsibility
Mita Srinivasan
10X People

Employee morale is a leader's responsibility

Ryan Jackson of Culture First Recruitment, in this exclusive piece to SME10x, shares why managers and leaders should set the right tone for their company. They should continuously remain self-aware and consciously re-align themselves with these core values.

It may come as a surprise that, as a business leader, it is you who sets the tone and culture of the business, and should come about through effective communication and behavioural standards for people to follow. By displaying undesirable or negative attributes, which in a basic sense means arriving late, shouting or raising your voice or simply being derogatory or rude, this will cascade down and set the tone of the culture within your company. Intrinsic to morale, it is imperative that you exemplify the standards of what you expect from others within that culture.

Unfortunately, many business leaders have developed an attitude of, “do as I say” and not “as I do”, implying that they are somehow above the law of the company and showing a lack of respect for workplace etiquette and rules and in doing so, conflicting messages are conveyed. There is a powerful saying which is “children learn more from what you are, than what you teach” which is applicable to anyone young or old in any environment and especially in the workplace. We must learn more from leaders as to who they are, as opposed to what they say. They should show high levels of consciousness to demonstrate the most appropriate behaviours for their teams to follow.

It’s vital therefore that managers and leaders remain self-aware and consciously re-align themselves with the core values of the company. If you find you are unsure of making certain decisions or of which direction to move in, lean on your values as the guide for making them. While this could result in short term business loss you will reap the benefits in the long run. It will clearly show to your employees how they should conduct themselves professionally, and that you lead in accordance with your values, which the culture is part of. This will convey the message that you don’t just pay lip-service to the standards you set, but how your values are solid, and it is what you are as a company and what it stands for.

In the United Arab Emirates, a prevalent challenge for businesses, particularly those in Dubai, is the low retention of employees, especially expatriates, which will correlate with the levels of morale within the organization. While financial incentives like higher salaries and tax exemptions attract expats, organizations must realise that monetary compensation alone may not suffice. Without additional incentives, of which there are potentially many, employees are prone to seeking better options elsewhere.

What’s vital is that the level of responsibility you uphold cannot be undermined or shaken. As a cultural ambassador for your team, as a great leader, if there are weak points in your business, including low morale for various reasons, while you could point the finger at individuals, ultimately, it always comes back to you. This is the mistake made by many, as rather than taking accountability for the role that they play, they’d rather deflect their responsibilities by apportioning blame elsewhere. This is weak and poor practise which should be changed.

Neglecting morale can result in disengaged employees, low productivity, and subpar team performance. Not only will this negativity permeate through the entire business, it will impact on customer experiences and tarnish reputation.

If you discover that errors are being made, in that employees are leaving as an example, take responsibility as well as the necessary steps to rectify the situation by first looking at yourself. Develop the right level of understanding and see that the buck starts with you. To improve morale you must look inwardly at your own levels of morale. With power, comes responsibility and you can’t have one without the other.

About the author

Ryan Jackson is an internationally recognised serial entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker and the founder of Culture First Recruitment, the first recruitment agency in Dubai to put cultural fit at the forefront of talent acquisition.