Something To Talk About

Oct 22, 2013, 08:15 ET from Accountemps

Survey: Human Resources Managers Cite Lack of Communication as Main Source of Low Employee Morale

TORONTO, Oct. 22, 2013 /CNW/ - Poor communication may do the greatest harm to workplace morale, suggests a new Accountemps survey. One-quarter (25 per cent) of human resources (HR) managers interviewed said a breakdown in communication is at the heart of most morale problems; almost one in five (18 per cent) survey respondents pointed to failure in recognizing employee achievements as the biggest factor and an equal number said micromanagement. Communication was also cited by 37 per cent of HR managers as the most effective way to counter low employee morale.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with more than 300 HR managers at Canadian companies with 20 or more employees.

HR managers were asked, "Which one of the following has the most negative impact on employee morale?" Their responses:

Lack of open, honest communication 25%
Micromanaging employees 18%
Failure to recognize employee achievements 18%
Fear of job loss  17%
Excessive workloads for extended periods 16%
None of these  4%
Don't know 2%

HR managers also were asked, "What is the best remedy for low morale?" Their responses:

Communication 37%
Monetary rewards for exceptional performance 16%
Recognition programs 22%
Unexpected rewards, such as gift certificates  
or sporting events tickets  9%
Team building events or meetings 9%
Additional days off  2%
None of the above  2%
Don't know 2%

*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

"Ineffective or incomplete communication between managers and employees could spell the difference between a team that is engaged and one that is suffering from low morale," said Greg Scileppi, president of Robert Half, International Staffing Operations. "Fostering an environment of two-way communication can help boost morale by making staff feel engaged. Managers can start by keeping their teams informed of company goals, challenges and business performance while encouraging staff to ask questions and provide feedback."

Scileppi added, "A disengaged workforce can have a significant and negative impact on business performance. Fortunately, issues with low morale can often be resolved relatively easily and in a cost-effective way with improved communications."

Accountemps highlights five characteristics of -- and remedies for -- low-morale:

  1. An active grapevine. When communication is scarce, gossip and misinformation flourish. Even if you have bad news to share or don't have all the answers, honesty is still the best policy. The more team members can rely on accurate information, the less grist they'll have for the rumour mill.
  2. Lack of initiative. Unmotivated employees just go through the motions rather than taking an active seat at the table. Foster an ownership environment in which employees are challenged to take initiative and solve problems in creative ways.
  3. Scarce rewards. Step up efforts to recognize employees' efforts with praise, low-cost awards and spot bonuses. Make rewards personal and give them as soon after an achievement as possible.
  4. Changes in attitude. If employees are unhappy, it will show. Look for red flags -- increased negativity, higher rates of absenteeism, or reduced cooperation or commitment. Checking in with workers on a regular basis will help you gauge morale and address budding problems.
  5. Poor performance. Morale problems can quickly affect a team's quality of work. Signs of trouble include missed deadlines, an increase in mistakes or a decline in service levels. Consider bringing in temporary professionals to ease your team's workload.

About Accountemps

Accountemps is the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 345 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at


SOURCE Accountemps