Lack of Honest Communication Top Morale-Buster at Work, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA -- Employees and their managers agree on one thing: A lack of open, honest communication takes a heavy toll on morale.  Fifty-two percent of executives and 30 percent of workers gave this response when surveyed recently about factors that negatively affect the workplace mood.  Failing to recognize employee achievements was the second most common answer among both groups.  

The surveys were developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals.  The polls were conducted by an independent research firm among two groups: 150 executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies and 571 men and women, all 18 years of age or older and employed.

Survey respondents were asked, “Which one of the following has the most negative impact on employee morale?”  Their responses:      

    Executives   Employees
Lack of open, honest communication   52%   30%
Failure to recognize employee achievements   21%   27%
Micromanaging employees   17%   16%
Excessive workloads for extended periods   7%   23%
None of the above   1%   2%
Don't know/no answer   2%   2%
    100%   100%

Survey respondents also were asked, “In your opinion, what is the best remedy for low morale?”  Their responses: 

    Executives   Employees
Unexpected rewards, such as gift certificates or tickets to a sporting event   38%   34%
Holding team-building events or meetings   17%   13%
Providing monetary rewards for exceptional performance   13%   33%
Communication   11%   0%
Recognition programs   7%   0%
Providing additional days off   4%   16%
None of the above   9%   3%
Don't know/no answer   1%   1%
    100%   100%

“Consistently sharing good -- and bad -- news with staff members builds an atmosphere of trust and can forestall potential miscommunication on business issues,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam.  “People often fear the worst when they have limited information.”

Informal rewards also influence the mood in the office, Domeyer added.  “Unsung heroes become another firm’s rising stars if their good work is repeatedly overlooked,” she said.  “Rewards do not have to be monetary as long as they demonstrate to teams and individuals that their contributions are valued.”  

But money doesn’t hurt, according to employees surveyed.  Cash compensation and extra time off ranked second and third, respectively, among workers.  Monetary rewards were the third most popular remedy for low morale among executives polled, after team-building events.

OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at

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