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Stuart Hearn looks at the difference between workplace morale and employee engagement


uman Resource executives the world over are well aware of the value and necessity

of employee engagement. Over the years, we have received a wealth of knowledge in this area in the form of articles and studies, most of which discuss the benefits that can be enjoyed from an engaged workforce, factors that drive engagement and information on how to foster engagement within an organisation. ‘Engagement’ has become a popular buzzword within the human resource community, and although the importance of engagement itself cannot be overlooked or debated, its overuse means that it is all too often

❝ What is workplace morale?

If you have worked in any kind of an office space before, or managed your own team, you will no doubt be familiar with the term ‘morale’. Gen- erally speaking, this term refers to the satisfaction, contentment, and overall attitude of an organisation’s employees. It has traditionally been linked to increased productivity1

as contented

workers are known to be more positive and likely to want to perform well. Companies that fail to prioritise

morale, by taking their employees for granted and fostering a negative work environment, witness increased employee turnover2

Conversely, workplaces that have a reputation of prioritising morale have an easier time when it comes to recruiting promising talent.

Morale has traditionally been linked to increased productivity

confused, or used interchangeably, with the concept of ‘morale’. In order for an organisation to truly understand the importance of engage- ment, as well as how to best promote it within a company, it is integral to first understand the intricate differences between these two terms. What is all too often ignored is that while a happy and satisfied worker certainly plays a significant role, employee engagement is actually much more complex.

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Methods to improve workplace morale

Tere are a number of ways to improve morale. Many of these focus on flexibility, such as the introduction of flexi-time, providing work-from- home options, or permitting time off for important family functions. Organisations have also had success when it comes to actively encouraging employee interactions, such as casual ‘water cooler’ discussions and out-of-office socialising.3 One method of encouraging morale

is the introduction of ‘creative time’. Google and other companies have

and low profitability.

really made the most of this concept. It involves allowing employees to take time out of their work day in order to pursue creative outlets related to the company. Tis means they can explore projects that excite them, and this enthusiasm stays with them when they get back to their day-to-day work. Given the number of hours we

spend at work each week, these measures of increasing morale are undoubtedly important. Employees who view work purely as an obligation are unlikely to thrive. However, though these measures will certainly work when attempting to boost morale, the same measures will not necessarily work in your efforts to increase employee engagement.

What is employee engagement?

It might be helpful to think of morale as a subset, or one of the main building blocks, of engagement. Tough you won’t have a genuinely engaged employee unless they are content and thriving in a company that prioritises workplace morale, it is true that increased morale in itself will not result in an engaged employee. A truly engaged employee, far from

simply being simply content with their work, is absorbed by it and eager to perform well. Tey are enthusiastic and determined to be productive as they get a sense of accomplishment and pride from going above and beyond expectations. On top of this, they are invested in the success and


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