We Are Sunshine

Ways to Crush Employee Morale

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Every manager wants to motivate employees to do their best, because when employees are happy they are productive and the business runs smoothly. Sales increase when employees are motivated to sell, areas are cleaner when they are motivated to present a clean environment and they are happy when they are rewarded for their hard work. But what happens when your motivation is actually killing employee morale?

Chris Mittelstaedt, founder and CEO of The FruitGuys and contributing writer to, tells the story of being a 16-year-old dishwasher who subsequently quit his job after a motivational competition set up by his manager went wrong. “I never forgot the lesson that hard work does not always earn the promotion,” says Chris. Because of this experience, he has decided he does not want to become a manager “who squashed an enthusiastic employee’s morale because he couldn’t see past his own needs,” and gives five ways he thinks a manager can kill employee morale without realizing it. Number one on his list being very obvious: Create competitions in which one employee will be promoted and the other won’t.

When employee morale is down, there can be serious repercussions. They can hold grudges against you and other employees, thus creating a toxic work environment and lowering productivity. Or you can lose good employees because they feel wronged, tricked or underappreciated. Chris shares his bad experience as a way to show other managers that even the best of intentions can have adverse consequences.

To read Chris’s dishwasher-done-wrong story on and for his top five morale killers, click here.