Morale, what is it?

So when I started I drew a triangle of the 3 topics I wanted to cover; PTSD was blog one, and this week I’m moving onto Morale.

Starting with a definition of Morale:

 “morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose”

(Leighton, 1949).

In a more simplified context then; morale is the motivation to pursue an objective, the will to carry on and the drive to succeed… But in that case what differentiates it from basic motivation?

“An American general defined morale as “when a soldier thinks his army is the best in the world, his regiment the best in the army, his company the best in the regiment, his squad the best in the company, and that he himself is the best blankety-blank soldier man in the outfit.”

(Knickerbocker, 1941)

And there we go, Morale is the positive emotion related to the motivation. Morale captivates not only the motivation to carry on but the emotion that makes you think you can carry on.

In the workplace effects such as individual achievement and have been shown to increase individual morale (Baylor & Ritche, 2002) and having realistic expectations of the workers prevent them losing this drive (Evans, 1997). Equality between workers also aids in individual morale and motivation (Leete, 2000) while at home simple effects such as low numbers of children can affect basic life morale (Hoffman & Youngblade, 1998).

Looking into morale as a concept therefore makes it appear to be the emotional side of motivation; someone can be motivated to do something they are not happy about, but in this case they will be experiencing low morale with negative emotion, however if they are willing and wanting to perform the action they will have a high morale and better motivation (Sennewald, 2011).

 This high morale is argued to be what causes workaholics (Stoeber, Davis & Townly, 2013) as they have high levels of work motivation, and the work motivation results in less exhaustion related to the job (Björklund, Jensen & Lohela-Karlsson, 2013). Not just this but in education it’s been shown that by having better student-teacher relations positive emotions are more common (Anitei & Chraif, 2013) and these emotions should be taken into account when trying to support student motivation to work (Turner, Meyer & Schweinle, 2003).

In conclusion although most of the time when we hear of Morale we think of soldiers or the home-front in wars gone by, it’s an ever present factor but is commonly referred to as ‘work motivation’ or similar when it is discussed in a modern non-military context. The morale is the motivation to work, combined with the positive emotion felt at believing the work can be done, we see it in students, teachers and the health care system.

When you’re doing work for example, when you feel like you’re going to do badly it makes you want to do the work less, but you’re still motivated to do it via extrinsic factors; your grade. But if you believe you can do it and enjoy it, you have better intrinsic motivation and thus better morale as there are positive emotions driving you to complete the work.

– – – – – References – – – – – 

Aniţei, M., & Chraif, M. (2013). A Correlative Study between Perceived Stressors and Positive and Negative Emotions at Young Romanian Students–A Pilot Study. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences76, 39-43.

Baylor, A. L., & Ritchie, D. (2002). What factors facilitate teacher skill, teacher morale, and perceived student learning in technology-using classrooms?.Computers & Education39(4), 395-414.

Björklund, C., Jensen, I., Lohela-Karlsson, M. (2013). Is a change in work motivation related to a change in mental well-being? Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 83(3), 571-580.

Evans, L. (1997). Understanding teacher morale and job satisfaction. Teaching and Teacher Education13(8), 831-845.

Hoffman, L. W., & Youngblade, L. M. (1998). Maternal employment, morale and parenting style: Social class comparisons. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology19(3), 389-413.

Knickerbocker, H. R. (1941). Is tomorrow Hitler’s?: 200 questions on the battle of mankind. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock.

Leighton, A. H. (1949). Human relations in a changing world: Observations on the use of the social sciences.

Leete, L. (2000). Wage equity and employee motivation in nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization43(4), 423-446.

Sennewald, C. (2011) Motivation and Morale. Effective Security Management, (5). 99-108.

Stoeber, J., Davis, C. D., & Townley, J. (2013). Perfectionism and workaholism in employees: The role of work motivation. Personality and Individual Differences.

Turner, J. C., Meyer, D. K., & Schweinle, A. (2003). The importance of emotion in theories of motivation: Empirical, methodological, and theoretical considerations from a goal theory perspective. International Journal of Educational Research39(4), 375-393.

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