10 Issues That Affect Employee Morale

Posted on June 13, 2017 by Michelle Locke

June is employee morale month. Today, we wanted to tackle some common issues that affect employee morale.

When it comes to employee morale within your restaurant, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s causing morale to remain low. Issues can be extremely personal: it could be a specific procedure in your restaurant that just isn’t working, leading to mistakes and a cyclical feeling of mistake-punishment-mistake. It could simply be because of communication issues, a lack of training, or more. Good employee can feel like chasing a unicorn, but don’t let that stop you from perfecting your restaurant’s culture & creating a great place for people to work. It is possible; it just takes hard work.

Here are 10 issues that affect morale and a few notes on addressing them.

1. Poor leadership: Unclear expectations & poor communication

We’ve written about management practices before, as well as communication skills. But poor leadership, difficult management styles, and a lack of communication (and therefore, unclear expectations) can lead to poor employee morale.

2. No opportunities for advancement.

If employees don’t see areas where they can be promoted or work their way up within the restaurant, they won’t be motivated to work very hard. If a restaurant rarely hire managers from within or avoid promoting employees to full time, they’re creating an environment where low employee morale can thrive.

3. Personal Issues

As we recently posted, depression among the restaurant issue is becoming increasingly common and profoundly affects work performance. You can read more here. Other personal issues might include difficulty finding childcare, scheduling difficulties with school or other jobs, and more.

4. Job Security Fears

If employees get fired for simple, tiny mistakes, or because of a single customer complaint that is never investigated to be true, other employees will feel insecure in their jobs. Employees need to see that hiring and firing practices are fair.

5. A perceived lack of fair compensation

If payment practices are not clear—if employees aren’t trained on their tips properly or they don’t see opportunities for advancement in pay—employees will feel as if practices aren’t fair. (This is why your training should include payment explanations, comprehensive overview of tip practices, and employee rights when it comes to pay!)

6. Lack of respect or support

How’s your management? As we’ve written before, poor management practices that leave employees feeling as if they are merely tools, and not contributing members of a team, will leave them lacking in support—and they won’t enjoy their jobs.

7. “Moving the goalpost”

When managers constantly change the goal employees are working towards, and never giving them credit when they hit one goal, employees will feel like they can never succeed.

8. Not being recognized for hard work

If an employee feels like they did a great job with a difficult situation, but don’t get positive feedback from their manager, they won’t feel recognized; this doesn’t give them much motivation to continue being a rockstar in your restaurant.

9. Unreasonable workloads

How’s this for a situation? A server is expected to serve the busiest section on their own, without a food runner, upsell to each guest, follow the steps of service exactly, and complete a list of sidework by the end of their shift? Is that possible? Not really.

10. High turnover

If employees see their co workers constantly changing, they’re going to start to wonder if maybe they should be looking elsewhere too. Plus, the constant stream of new hires that they have to help train, keep an eye on, and assist can be exhausting.