Low Morale is Very Contagious

We have all experienced a workplace where low morale was prevalent. But the problem is employee morale is really which drives the production of any workforce. It is quite amazing at time just how little attention that the upper management of businesses and corporations pays to this important subject. Low morale ought to serve as a warning signs that those who value their employees.

Upper Managers Lack Self-Awareness

Such a situation provides a familiar scenario. We see workers escape to bathroom stalls where they cry, or observe them brooding through lifeless meetings, and lament about their managers with their whispers in the break room. The more aggravated these people start to feel, they become much less inspired do their work with pride, and their creativity and productivity levels decline sharply.

Quite frankly, it is mind boggling why businesses ignore these telltale signs when they really can’t afford to let these problems continue – hoping it will improve on its own. Rather than taking this horrible approach, they must realize that when they have low employee morale in the ranks, it should be treated for what it is – which is an emotional contagion—and it will circulate like virus would from person to person within their workforce.

Spiraling Negativity

Sigal Barsade, who comes from the Wharton School of Business and is a professor of management there, has researched the core and characteristics concerning this Bad Apple Syndrome. Her studies on this emotional contagion among workers indicates that even the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions of just one person can  actually spread in surprising number of damaging ways in the workplace.

Just think about all the offices who struggle with the notion of a poor work ethic. As he wrote about emotional and social learning in his insightful book Focus, psychologist Daniel Goleman has found that only one person who has a bad work ethic could introduce a social virus into a well-functioning organization and have a horrific effect.

The main issue here is how a team at work interacts and depends on each other. Someone with a negative work ethic will activate a certain natural move among the rest of the group to maintain balance. If my co-worker is not concerned about completing the project on time, they say to themselves, I will slack off too. And then all the teammates collectively, and many times subconsciously, begin throttling back their efforts altogether. And this negative behavior and attitude will then easily spread throughout all the members of the work, which results in a whole amalgam of problematic work habits across a work organization.

There are many instances of this Bad Apple Syndrome which has blossomed like a contagion. What is amazing is that if you are at work and the person sitting near you begins biting their nails from stress, chances are you will start to sense that stress too. And then someone next to you will sense the stress too, and so forth. Now imagine all the workers around you talking about how the boss treated them badly, and how they are feeling frustrated and humiliated. What happens is that others begin to pitch in with their negative experiences and all this leaves a nasty scar on their view of the employer – and that scar last a long time.