Morale, also known as esprit de corps when discussing the morale of a group, is an intangible term used to describe the capacity of people to maintain belief in an institution or a goal.
Right from the start of every military career, esprit de corps is taught to young recruits as an essential part of being in the military. It is the “Glue” that keeps a unit together, ready for what ever challenge may arise.
Being posted to a warship, I know how true this really is, for example ,when a ship has a high morale, things are good; the food is great, everybody is rested and feeling energized.. smiles.. jokes and high fives all around, nothing can stop us!
On the flip side, when the morale is low it can be like a jail with no escape! People are upset, frustrated, and even emotionally damaged. You just don’t want to be there anymore, but you don’t really have a choice because you can’t just get off a ship in the middle of the ocean.
The military is very aware of this “morale” issue and it’s positive or negative impact on a unit. Most commanders have a keen sense of their unit’s morale and take appropriate steps to keep it high.
“One With The Strength Of Many“
When we think of hazards at work, we generally think of physical hazards like: pinch points, nip points, trip hazards and guarding issues.
Psychosocial hazards are just as real as physical hazards at work, and in some cases if not recognized and controlled they can have a very negative impact on your bottom line.
Many studies have been done on psychosocial hazards, and the impact on the workplace. Dr. Martin Shain and Health Canada have put out a recent study called Best Advice on Risk Management in the Workplace. It simply states that workers with a high demand for production and little or no control, and or, high effort/low reward are at risk of being frustrated, angry, and stressed, which can contribute to aggressive behavior, sabotage, poor physical and mental health and a general lack for safety. These negative feelings can be multiplied two to three times if the employee perceives the employer as being unfair.
We can come up with many situations that exemplify this research; such as the example of a good marriage. When you ask two people who have been married for a long time “what helped them stay together” ; they always say the same thing… “it is a relationship of give and take”, which means the effort/reward system is good. On the other hand, ask a divorced couple to high light the reasons why they got divorced and the answer is mostly…”I gave so much and got nothing in return”, Which means the effort/reward system has failed and so has their relationship.
Oddly enough, the marriage scenario is most like our workplaces, with the relationship between employer/employee, in that they both have basic needs that have to be met to feel good about the working relationship.
Recognizing that psychosocial hazards exist is the first step in a process set up to control them, and controlling them can put you in Canada’s top 100 employers list where the effort/reward system is working; and it is the main reason why they are considered Top Employers!
I often watch TED talks and found this one very interesting, not because the speaker has the same name as me, but the passion he has for teaching and the way he gives control of the class to his students with amazing results each year!
I just watched a documentary about the Freedom Riders of 1961.
I was awe-struck with the story of the hundreds of people who decided one day to peacefully fight for civil rights. All they did was take a bus, both white and blacks together in no seating segregation. Their trip started in Washington D.C. and they planned to ride through the deep south into Alabama and Mississippi.
They were called agitators, and defined by law enforcement as trouble makers.Things got heated as they entered Alabama with mobs of angry people surrounding the bus and fire bombing it then beating everyone who ran off.
It’s a fascinating story about people standing up for whats right, something we, in this day, have long forgotten how to do…
I spent most of my growing up time living with my Grandparents in Northern Ontario. My Grandfather owned a construction company that he labored at tirelessly. My Uncle Bob Was his Lead Foreman. I have many fond memories of these two great people in my life.
My Grandfather (Doug) knew everyone in that small town. He was fair with his workers, paid them all well, gave them time off when they needed it, even paid for benefits! He was a hard worker and never asked an anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. I can still remember riding with him in his truck as a young boy, waving at nearly everyone that passed by with a smile. He was indeed a great man.
My Uncle Bob was also well-known and a respected master welder possessing almost every welding ticket you can get. He was also a great foreman having everyone’s respect. I remember him being a great teacher and mentor to me. One of his strange but true sayings was…just because you have a license, don’t mean you can drive.
Both my Uncle and Grandfather have passed on many years too early, but they did leave me with an understanding of what true leadership is.
Without Vision There Is No Leadership
Could Mc Donald’s pay every employee a bonus of $300 at Christmas?
Mc Donald’s is worth roughly 430 billion,. They have an advertising budget of 1 billion with 4 billion in free cash each and every year. It would cost 500 million to achieve this bonus for almost 2 million employees worldwide. With 4 billion in free cash and an advertising budget of 1 billion…I think it’s possible.
Think of how happy all the employees would be; Christmas presents can be bought for their kids, catch up on some bills or even buy something really nice they couldn’t afford with-out this extra money. All the major news networks would have this story front and center, it would be a public relations dream come true. Most important, it would give Mc Donald’s Corp. an employee base that feels truly appreciated for their work; that’s priceless!
We can learn many things about stress management and how stress management can benefit workplaces. For example, dairy farmers are drastically changing the way in which cows are raised. Dairy farmers have found that creating a relaxing, non-stressful environment for the cows turns into better profits. Cows no longer are cooped up in small stalls, or separated from their young; instead they roam freely in pastures. Come milking time, the cows go in a modern, high-tech barn that is designed for maximum comfort. The floors are made of stainless steel, that’s so that the robotic squeegee can scrape all waste matter away to prevent disease. The cows also have access to large “car-wash type” brushes that automatically spin when a cow is present, this is to help the cow get at those irritating itches. Milking the cow is accomplished by a laser guided machine that finds each nipple, all without any person touching the cow. Once hooked up, the machine monitors the milk for any temperature changes or disease. To further reduce stress the cow is always with their young, even when it’s time for milking.
Dairy farmers say that a happy cow gives more milk, and that the milk is better quality. They are witnessing positive results from their investment in stress management.
How can we apply stress management to everyday workers? We need to first realize that stressed workers are less productive, more prone to accidents, have more sick days, and cost the company many thousands of dollars on the bottom line.
The solution to these problems can come through a good stress management program were employees feel good about coming to work and doing the best job they can. Creating this friendly, non-confrontational atmosphere can be attained through: commitment, desire, and proper leadership. The monetary cost of stress management can be minimal when you understand your psychosocial hazards that exist in your workplace, and you control them.
Over the past twenty years of health and safety management, there has been much study on the term Psychosocial hazard, and, if it really exists in our workplaces. The Ministry of Labor, W.S.I.B., Health and Safety Professionals, and Union Leaders all recognize that psychosocial hazards are real, and that they can be controlled just as much as physical hazards. Studies have shown that for every dollar spent on controlling psychosocial hazards, you can save between 3 – 6 dollars on your bottom line!