Accountability means someone is held responsible for an action, goal, or assignment. Within the workplace, someone who is accountable might take the lead on a project or become a direct contact with a client or vendor. Accountability can be a good thing when employees feel empowered to make their own decisions and come up with creative solutions to problems. 

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) highlights several benefits of accountability for employee morale. These include improved performance, greater engagement, increased feelings of competency, and increased commitment to the work. In short, accountability can make employees feel good about what they do and who they work for. 

However, accountability doesn’t happen on its own. Learn how this trait can be developed and the various ways it supports morale within your organization. 

The Importance of Accountability in Enhancing Workplace Morale

Accountability is often used negatively in the workplace. When there is an error or issue with production, someone needs to take accountability for the problem that everyone else worked to fix. From a psychological standpoint, people even get confused between shame and accountability. However, you can use accountability positively and develop it as a growth trait within your organization.

Accountability highlights how employees can make decisions for themselves and ensure the best possible outcome occurs. An accountable employee will break down a larger project into smaller tasks instead of waiting until the last minute to race against a deadline. This is a positive use of accountability.  

Accountable employees don’t need people to micromanage them and often get frustrated when their supervisors do just that. When leaders know their team members are accountable, they can trust that the work will get done and it will meet their quality expectations. This boosts morale for everyone. Employees feel respected for their skills and dedication while managers can feel confident in their teams. 

Good accountability can send positive ripple effects through your organization. Empowered workers are less likely to leave, and are more likely to encourage others to join them on the team. A healthy work culture can do wonders for attracting and retraining employees

Building Trust Through Transparency

Accountability isn’t a standalone trait. It works with other core values to create a healthy organization. For example, transparency occurs when companies are open and honest with their team members. They present information clearly instead of gatekeeping news or letting office gossip spread. 

There are multiple connections between transparency and accountability. When a manager is clear that a client is unhappy, team members can suggest solutions. If sales are lower than expected, team members can voice concerns without fear of retribution. With this information, your staff can be part of the solution and brainstorm opportunities to overcome obstacles. 

Accountability as a Motivational Tool

Accountability connects employees to their work, and to the company that hired them. Because feeling a sense of accountability boosts morale, you can use it to motivate employees. An employee who successfully leads a project can be rewarded with greater autonomy and responsibility because they have proven their capabilities. Not only will this help them grow in the short run, but it can set that employee up for promotions and advancement in the future. 

One way to use accountability as a motivational tool is to set clear expectations. Be explicit about parameters like timeline, budget, and project requirements so your team members can meet them. Your staff can take this information and develop a project plan around it, increasing their chances of success.   

The Impact of Accountability on Employee Engagement and Performance

Employees who are accountable in the workplace are usually more engaged. They know their managers and peers trust in their abilities and they want to prove themselves to preserve that trust. To see the value of accountability, look at what happens when it is missing. Micromanaging and blame-spreading create a toxic environment where employees feel like they cannot work independently or come up with their own ideas. They end up working in fear and doing the bare minimum.   

Healthy management starts with the right tools. Look for software systems that promote employee engagement while enabling you to keep track of various projects and tasks. 

Enhancing Team Collaboration With Accountability

Accountability can also boost teamwork and collaboration. When employees know they won’t receive undue blame for problems, they can brainstorm new ideas and pitch them to their peers. Groups can collaborate toward a common goal and work to solve problems together.  

Leaders need to encourage accountable behavior within teams. In the short run, work as a mediator overseeing project groups to make sure they are building healthy environments. Even when you take a step back, let your staff know that your door is open for help if any issues arise.  

Accountability and Employee Growth

Accountability encourages personal and professional growth because team members are eager to try new things and learn new skills to drive results. As you develop a more accountable workplace, create opportunities for this growth to happen. Provide constructive feedback for your team to improve and recommend training opportunities for your staff. You can empower your employees to do their jobs better. 

Strategies for Promoting Accountability in the Workplace

If your organization needs accountability support, building this trait can seem like an impossible task. Fortunately, as a leader, you can foster a culture of accountability and highlight this value across your organization. Make accountability part of every meeting and feature it in a positive light. When being accountable is desirable in your department, more team members will embrace this concept.  

Setting Clear Goals and Expectations

Accountability starts with expectations. Your employees can’t meet your goals if you don’t clearly explain them and review what is expected of your team. Practice setting SMART goals and sharing them with your team.

When your employees meet your goals, review the criteria you gave them and highlight how their work met your needs. This way expectations are set beforehand, reviewed during the project, and reiterated once the work is complete. 

Recognizing and Rewarding Accountable Behavior

One of the best ways to highlight accountability within your organization is to recognize and reward it. This can be as simple as mentioning the great work one of your team members did on a project during your weekly meeting or giving them a shout-out on the company’s Slack channel. 

Look for reward systems that effectively encourage accountable behavior, like extra time off or company-covered lunches. When your staff sees what can happen when they practice accountability, they will be eager to showcase this trait. 

Leveraging Technology to Support Accountability

The software tools you use can aid in supporting accountability. For example, route management tools can not only help people get where they need to go on time, but they can also highlight how your team members are good drivers, allowing you to reward their behavior. 

Field service software and other project management tools can improve your communication and workflows, empowering team members to make better decisions. You can give your team the tools to be accountable and then let them decide to take this trait on. 

Everyone within your organization can practice accountability, from CEOs to your newest interns. Make being accountable a core value and watch how your staff thrives by embracing this concept.


Brett is a Content Specialist at WorkWave with over a decade of professional writing experience. When he's not glued to his keyboard, he enjoys playing music, reading, playing video games, and just about anything that takes him outdoors.