Charting the Industry: Making Good on Bad Employee Morale

The new IABC 2011 Employment Engagement Survey, highlighted last week at IABC’s World Conference in San Diego, takes a comprehensive look at the state of employees and employee relations. For the most part, it’s good news for internal PR pros, with the following findings:

• A comparison of surveys year-over-year indicates small but encouraging growth in the size of organizational communication departments.

• Nearly 60% of the participants reported that their communication departments were able to influence their organizations’ agendas, priorities or goals (47% agreed; 11% agreed strongly).

• More than 50% of respondents said their organizations added content-sharing tools to their intranets within the past five years.

But the study also covers the negative aspects of employee relations, querying respondents about factors that contribute to a decrease in employee engagement. Not too surprising, poor morale is the No. 1 factor (see chart for details).

Looking further into employee morale, PR News decided let internal relations experts weigh in on the major causes of bad morale, and how it can be changed. First, how do you spot malaise among employees?

Anna Maravelas, founder of Thera Rising, a workplace wellness consulting company, says to look for the following signs: excess gossip, an increase in petty conflict, mean-spirited rumors and, if measured, drops in productivity and employee satisfaction scores.

While failing to meet basic, universal needs such as recognition, accountability and fair compensation all play a part in low morale, invariably it also stems from a lack of leadership, says Matthew Kaplowitz, a New York-based licensed psychologist who specializes in management coaching and assessments. “Good leaders are naturally attuned to their employees and their needs, and inspire emotional and intellectual commitment to the organization,” says Kaplowitz.


What are the best remedies for poor morale? How about some praise? The social network Yammer recently added a new feature to its software called Praise, which allows colleagues to publicly appreciate one another for a job well done by posting a colorful badge and description of the work to the network.

“Recognition is a simple way to identify strong performers, which can lead to better employee engagement and morale,” says Dee Anna McPherson, VP of customer engagement at Yammer. PRN

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Anna Maravelas, [email protected]; Matthew Kaplowitz, [email protected]; Dee Anna McPherson, [email protected].