Morale

Understanding the Nature of Morale

Morale, among other things, is the amount of confidence, enthusiasm, and determination, a person or group have at a particular time (Oxford Advance Learners Dictionary, Special price edition, 1998, p.7555).

Almost in the same fashion, American Century Dictionary explains morale as a psychological concept that gives rise to confidence, determination of a person or group.

Morale was originally ascribed to a military term to equate with French army word spirit (spirit) de corps, for a definite concept: it means devotion to and pride in one’s group. Essentially, morale is the capacity of a group's members to maintain belief in an institution or goal, particularly in the face of opposition or hardship.

Workers Morale, Attitude and Job Satisfaction in Relation to Motivation

While motivationOpens in new window is described as the enthusiasm and persistence in a person to pursue a certain course of action, morale is concerned with why people choose a particular course of action in preference to others, and why they continue with a chosen action, often over a long period, and in the face of difficulties and problems.

Morale is not frequently found in literature but the term is a widely applied concept. More often what is found in the literature is a description of the state of attitudes rather than the word. The term has however been used in different ways in various studies. In some cases it has been used to mean employee’s attitude toward the organization as a whole and in others it is use to simply refer to an individual feeling in the organization.

One University of Michigan Study equated morale with job satisfaction. Some of the known definitions are:

  1. Degree to which the needs of an individual are satiated and the extent to which he/she derives satisfaction from his/her work (Scott & Mitchell).
  2. Morale is, therefore, the individual and collective spirit and confidence of employees in themselves an in their organization.

In addition to fostering job satisfaction for the individual, morale gives rise to group cohesion as well as group solidarity. At work place, it’s incumbent on the part of managers to appreciate the role of motivation and morale and these are constant, ongoing sources of encouragements.

Good communication will support both, but getting the realities of morale wrong with lack of perception, organizations will end up with low morale and poor performance. On the other hand, getting it right will lead to rewards and benefits for everyone. A system where the organization is transparent and shares information to its members can boost the workers morale, attitude to work, motivation and productivity.

An Example of Morale and Motivation in Play

How motivation and morale together go to create a sense of identity, the case of TISCO can be a good example. The employees of Tata Iron and Steel Co. at Jamshedpur traditionally had come to believe that the organization was their own organization. This feeling itself was a great motivating factor boosting their morale and feeling of oneness with the organization.

Once, after a number of large steel plants came up in the public sector in India and were running successfully, quite a few political leaders raised the demand for nationalization of TISCO. The biggest shout came from the workers of TISCO. They objected unanimously against nationalization claiming this was their own organization, they were happy and they didn’t favor taking over by the government. This was their own organization and no outside interference was called for. When we try to analyze their belief of “our company” we find one startling truth. All the 70,000 workers of TISCO together did not own even 1% of the shares of the company.

Attitude is essentially a state of mind and this is nothing other than morale itself. It is the attitude of the employees towards their organization and their jobs. Motivation stimulates the interest in development of morale of the employees. Higher the levels of motivation and morale among the employees, higher will be the levels of confidence and performance of the employees in the organization.

According to Fishbein (1967), attitude can best be conceptualized if it is subdivided into three related parts, namely:

  1. Beliefs about the job;
  2. The attitude itself; and
  3. The behavioral intentions that result from the attitude.

It is relatively easy to see how beliefs about one’s work (e.g. the work is risky, uninterestingly, dirty, etc.) can lead to a negative attitude e.g., job dissatisfaction which in turn can lead to the behavior intentions to leave or to reduce effort, productivity on the job.

Such behavioral intentions are then translated into actual behavior, assuming the individual is able to carry out his or her intentions. Steers and Porters (1979) have given a very explanatory diagram of the process as shown in Table below.

Belief about jobJob attitudeBehavioral intentionsActual Behavior
Job is dullJob dissatisfactionIntention to LeaveAbsenteeism
Job is dirtyLow Job InvolvementsIntention to reduce effortLow Turn Over
Job provides little
autonomy responsibility, etc.
Poor Performance