Impact Learning Systems


Call Center Morale vs. Motivation: Why They're Key to Your Success Monica Postell

The symp­toms are painful: low per­for­mance, high turnover, passive-aggressive behav­iors, and gen­eral lack of focus on what’s impor­tant to your busi­ness. Is the source of the pain a prob­lem with employ­ees’ morale? Or is it a prob­lem with moti­va­tion? And, more impor­tantly, what can you do about it?

What's the dif­fer­ence between morale and motivation?

Morale has to do with feel­ings. In work­places where morale is high, employ­ees approach their work with energy, enthu­si­asm, and will­ing­ness. They want to come to work—or at least are enthu­si­as­tic about work once they get there.

Moti­va­tion, on the other hand, refers to employ­ees’ drive to get the job done. Highly moti­vated employ­ees tend to be high pro­duc­ers, but that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean their morale is high. In fact, employ­ees can be moti­vated by “neg­a­tive incen­tives” such as a fear of los­ing their job, an exces­sive desire for rewards, or an overly com­pet­i­tive need to out­per­form a col­league. Although these ten­den­cies often result in an employee get­ting a lot of work done—and can even result in highly cre­ative or inno­v­a­tive output—they dimin­ish the over­all health and morale of the team or the organization.

How do morale and moti­va­tion work together?

Morale and moti­va­tion work together in an ongo­ing cycle. When morale is high, employ­ees seem nat­u­rally more moti­vated to work hard and get pos­i­tive results. When morale is low—and employ­ees become less self-motivated—some well inten­tioned man­agers mis­tak­enly resort to unpleas­ant, heavy-handed tac­tics (such as nag­ging, threat­en­ing unpleas­ant con­se­quences, mak­ing more rules, micro­manag­ing, etc.), which in turn lower morale even further.

Under­stand­ing morale and moti­va­tion is vital to cre­at­ing a high-performance work­place. Not sur­pris­ingly, the best results come when both high morale and high moti­va­tion are present. When it comes to rais­ing morale, there are two impor­tant things to keep in mind:

  1. It’s not all fun and games.
  2. Occa­sion­ally, you need fun and games.

The chart below illus­trates this. The idea, of course, is to get your employ­ees into the Effi­ciency Zone and keep them there.

Here’s what we know:

  • The man­ager sets the tone for the entire team/department/center.
  • Morale is contagious.
  • Dif­fer­ent things moti­vate dif­fer­ent people.
  • Envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions affect morale.
  • Moti­va­tions change.
  • There’s no magic for­mula or 100 per­cent guar­an­teed approach to cre­at­ing high morale.
  • Main­tain­ing high morale is as much about car­ing as it is about caution.
  • When employ­ees’ needs are met, they tend to be will­ing to do what you ask—and more.
  • Increas­ing morale makes good busi­ness sense.

Our down­load­able guide to reduc­ing call cen­ter turnover includes tips on how to improve morale and moti­vate your staff so you have a high-performing workplace—one where employ­ees strive to help you reach your goals.


With a back­ground in per­for­mance improve­ment and instruc­tional design, Mon­ica Postell works with Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems in design­ing and deploy­ing train­ing and devel­op­ment pro­grams that fos­ter real cus­tomer loyalty.
Mon­ica Postell
View all posts by Mon­ica Postell
Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • Technorati
  • Enkata

    Every­one needs a break now and then from the daily rou­tine. Like you men­tioned, work isn't all fun and games but a lit­tle fun goes a long way. You want your employ­ees to enjoy com­ing to work, espe­cially in a call cen­ter, because their atti­tude is going to impact the way they inter­act with your cus­tomers and callers.

  • The Cus­tomer Sup­port Week­end Roundup #5 | Sup­port Ops

    […] […]

Alltop, all the top stories

We're an Alltop blog, and regularly contribute to The Customer Collective and CustomerThink.

Back to Top