Most workplaces are not all bubble-gum and ice cream -- but they don't have to be a total drag either. When you're in charge of a group of employees, you may be laser-focused on hard numbers like revenue and output. While those things do matter, you don't want it to be at the expense of things like treating employees well and making sure they're feeling good. Ignoring the "softer" side of team management can lead to problems with morale and camaraderie.
Employees want a fair shake. They want to know that when they do good work, it will be rewarded with promotions, raises, or just a simple pat on the back. But when managers favor one employee's good behavior over another -- or worse, promote their lazy friends -- it's sure to degrade the morale of the workplace and hurt any sense of camaraderie that may have existed.
You've been taught not to gossip since first grade -- but some employees still engage in it. It's even worse when managers engage in it, for instance by starting rumors about other employees' performance or letting only select employees in on company secrets. If you want to kill camaraderie and morale in the office, start engaging in "us-versus-them" behaviors and gossip about other people.
Lack of Clarity
When employees know what is expected of them and what they need to do to keep moving up the ladder, they tend to rise to the challenge. When they have a clear picture of where company leaders want the company to go, they'll follow. Not letting employees know the company's goals and how they can meet them can damage morale -- and it may cost the company money. Expecting employees to fumble along and "figure it out" on their own will mean they're spending a lot of valuable energy on the discovery process. If they don't get it right the first time, they may lose confidence. Both of these problems can greatly cut down on productivity.
A little bit of employee competition is natural and can be good for your bottom line, but too much of it is going to kill the friendly team spirit that should exist among co-workers. When employees are pitted against each other for sales figures or production numbers, they may tend to spend more time focusing on what other employees are doing instead of focusing on their own work. Too much competition can lead to quality issues as well. For instance, the production staff that gets more "points" for higher output, may do so at the expense of a well-made product. To create a sense of camaraderie in the workplace, encourage teamwork and group decision-making and do away with policies that pit employees against each other. One way to do this is to measure group goals. For example, award the entire team when their sales figures rise, as opposed to rewarding the highest performer among them.
When an employer is committed to her employees, she's likely to get gainful returns. However, when workers are underpaid, work in unsafe conditions, work long hours without a "thank you" or compensation, or don't receive the medical benefits they need to keep themselves and their families healthy, it's sure to damage morale. And when worker morale is low, workers tend to pass on the employer's lack of care and respect to their co-workers, hurting the whole team.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.