HR Management & Compliance

The High Cost of Low Morale . . . and What to Do About It

Author and talent management expert Carol A. Hacker writes about her book “The High Cost of Low Morale . . . and What to Do About It.” She offers tips from her book for reducing employee turnover.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the average cost of one turnover is 30 percent of the first year’s projected annualized salary. Although sometimes viewed as inevitable, turnover is a controllable expense. Because making money is important, it’s essential to examine anything that interferes with profitability. In my book, The High Cost of Low Morale…and what to do about it, I offer insight into how businesses of all sizes are improving morale, reducing turnover, and becoming more profitable. Regardless of your organization’s size, the principles are the same for reducing morale problems. Here are some thoughts from the book:

The High Cost of Low Morale . . . and What to Do About It by Carol Hacker

1. Get Employees to Make Long-Term Commitments. In a survey I conducted with 500 highly productive employees, I asked why they left their previous employers. Here are their answers in order of frequency:

  • “I had insufficient opportunity for advancement.”
  • “My manager didn’t keep me informed about what was going on. I often heard the news from customers and other sources.”
  • “I didn’t feel comfortable expressing my feelings, especially when I had a new idea or different way of doing something.”
  • “I thought the pay was unfair.”
  • “I received little or no praise.”
  • “My manager used unfair promotion practices.”

2. New Employees Should Go Through Orientation. The more important, accepted, and secure new people feel, the better the likelihood they will stay for the long haul.

3. Improve the Level of Morale. Morale is tied to profits. That alone makes it important. It also involves efficiency, quality, cooperation, productivity, and financial competitiveness.

4. Look Closely at Uncooperative Employees. Every organization has troublemakers. How they’re managed directly affects how they respond. Disruption of any kind affects business operations.

5. Be a Coach, Not a Cop. Sometimes we become cops when we focus more on discipline and punishment than on helping people reach their potential. Even though difficult people are the minority, they get more than their share of attention. Ignoring trouble isn’t the way to lead a team. Be a coach.

6. Modify the Nature of the Work. To many, repetitive work is boring. Add new elements to a job and make it more interesting. Assign employees to teams where they will complement other team members. Allow them time to adjust to their roles and build on their strengths. When appropriate, ask for their help in training new employees.

In conclusion, can you afford to view employees as disposable assets? The investment of your time and effort to plan and implement ways to improve employee morale can have long-range positive results for both the human and financial factors in your organization.

Carol Hacker is an HR consultant and seminar leader who ranks among the experts in the field of recruiting and retention issues. For more than two decades, she’s been a significant voice in frontline and corporate human resource management to small businesses as well as Fortune 100 companies. Carol can be reached at (770) 410-0517 or

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