Are you struggling to reduce staff turnover, motivate your workforce and improve employee morale? Do your workers seem to be illness-prone and absent often, increasing pressures on productivity and output?

With financial worries rife amongst the lower-earning workforce and increased numbers of long-term sickness, it’s no surprise that employee morale is low across many industries. Workers are resorting to quiet quitting, seeking new opportunities, or just straight up walking out of jobs with no plan.

Considering the cost of replacing a staff member is estimated (on average) to be upwards of £30,000, retaining a happy workforce might be more important now than ever. It seems that high staff turnover is common for many employers, the question is, how did it get to this and what can you do about it?

The great resignation

The Great Resignation in 2021 saw a large number of employees quitting their jobs in search of better work-life balance, higher pay, or more meaningful work. According to a report by Statista by Q2 2022, in the UK a record 442,000 employees resigned from their jobs.

This may well have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic with employees having more time to rethink priorities. However, despite this shift across workplaces, more than three-quarters of UK workers are still unhappy in their career or job role in 2023.

Whilst resignations may have slowed down slightly since 2022, this doesn’t necessarily mean employees are content. One in 10 workers are too worried to leave their positions, lacking the qualifications and skills to pursue other avenues.

Some UK employers are doing their bit to reduce the effects of the Great Resignation by offering flexible working arrangements, higher salaries, and more relevant employee benefits. But is this really working?

Staff are humans too

Employees are not robots, they are humans who have feelings and emotions driven by basic needs such as food, shelter, and safety. If employees are chronically worried about job security, low take-home pay, or under intense pressure to earn more, it can cause them to feel anxious and stressed. Over time, this can lead to low morale and burnout.

Whilst low salaries are one element, there are other things to consider if you want to cultivate a happier, more productive workforce. Unrealistic workload, lack of support, poor communication, and limited growth opportunities to name a few, may also be affecting productivity and focus, and contributing to a toxic working environment.

As a business owner or senior manager, it may be easier than you think to act on improving your workplace culture. But it needs to come from the top. After all, it’s the manager’s responsibility to ensure that their employees are safe, healthy, and happy at work.

How to improve staff motivation and productivity

According to the Self-determination theory, the three main motivators of human behaviour are:

– Being autonomous over one’s choices and actions
– Feeling capable and competent
– Connection and interaction with others

With all these factors collectively, comes improved wellness, performance, and self-led motivation.

Research by SurveyMonkey shows that happier employees are more engaged. For example, someone who feels needed, valued, and appreciated is more likely to go the extra mile to achieve the company mission than someone who feels isolated and used.

Having a meaningful career and being acknowledged, gives employees a sense of purpose and positive prospects to work towards in life.

It’s time to take action

Here are some simple and actionable steps to reduce staff turnover and enhance staff motivation that you can implement right away:

Transparent communication

Communicate company goals and values clearly so your staff knows exactly what is expected of them and how their contribution to the business is most valuable. Communicate business updates and changes to keep everyone informed and in the loop.

Adequate break times

A 30-minute lunch break for some means a decision between inhaling a sandwich OR taking that important call to the doctor. With only 30 minutes, employees may feel rushed to grab a quick, unhealthy meal, or may not have time to get some fresh air. Consider providing the option to extend lunch breaks or provide a flexible alternative.

Reward good work not just “great work”

Good work doesn’t have to mean “going the extra mile”, working overtime, or taking on additional work. Good work is your employees doing the job they have been employed to do and doing it well. Don’t wait for an annual appraisal or an “above and beyond” effort to say thanks or give praise.

Make time and take feedback seriously

Sometimes people just need to be heard and acknowledged. It might not be what you want to hear but feedback (good or bad) from those on the frontline can be a valuable insight into improving morale and motivation. Trying to understand their perspective can go a long way in making positive change.

Encourage learning and development

Chances are your staff members want to learn and develop so they can be more confident and efficient and ultimately help you achieve your business goals. This doesn’t have to mean shelling out for management apprenticeships or expensive courses. There are many free online courses that can help upskill your workforce. Offering opportunities to enhance one’s strengths can work wonders for an individual’s sense of achievement and self-efficacy.

Put yourself in their shoes

A Jack of all trades may be helpful for meeting your business needs. However, in terms of morale, consider how this could impact an employee’s focus and motivation. Being expected to take on additional work with zero financial reward is frustrating at best. Whilst cross-training staff can be beneficial, if this poses a one-sided benefit to the employer, this could be increasing work-related stress and lowering employee engagement.


If you want to reduce staff turnover and improve productivity in your business, then consider how you can cultivate a positive work culture. Let your employees be heard, give them the opportunity to learn new skills, without expecting too much of them, and help them to have positive interactions with management and co-workers.

Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood
Founder at The Wellness Mentor | + posts

Natalie Wood is an Online Fitness Coach and Personal Trainer with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. Prior to starting her business, The Wellness Mentor, Natalie worked in a corporate setting for almost 15 years and therefore understands the challenges her clients face regarding establishing work/life balance.

Passionate about improving quality of life and sustainable lifestyle choices, Natalie now works with clients through group and 1-1 programs both in person and online. Natalie’s mission is to empower individuals to take action to improve their own fitness and health so they can reap the long-term benefits.