Workplace Mood Often in the Dumps

November 17, 2009 ( a sign that the recession has taken its toll on the workplace atmosphere at many companies, a new survey finds 23% of employers say their workers have low morale, and 40% of employees say it is hard to stay motivated.

A CareerBuilder news release about the poll of HR managers and employees said 24% of employees surveyed said they have no sense of loyalty to their current company.

The survey found a number of potential drivers of the low morale, according to the news release. Two-in-five employees surveyed said their stress level at work is high, and 47% said their workload has increased in the last six months. One-in-five are dissatisfied with their work/life balance.

But not all the problems were rooted in the economic climate. Thirty-eight percent of workers said they felt there was departmental favoritism at work, while 28% don’t think their department is important to senior leadership. Sales (15%), human resources (11%), and accounting/finance (6%) topped the list of departments workers believe are primarily given preferential treatment at work.

When asked what type of preferential treatment workers thought the favored department received, they said that they:

  • Tend to have higher salaries – 51%
  • Receive more recognition by senior leaders – 47%
  • Have more flexibility in their work arrangements – 43%
  • Receive more funding/resources – 27%
  • Tend to have greater career advancement opportunities – 26%
  • Tend to have more training and leadership development opportunities – 19%
  • Are able to follow a more casual dress code – 15%
  • Are awarded with trips while other departments are not – 15%

“Low morale levels are an unfortunate side effect of this recession,” said Jason Ferrara, vice president of corporate marketing for CareerBuilder, in the news release. “As a result, employers are taking measures to help address negative workplace sentiment and motivate their employees. Whether it’s through stepping up communication, offering more employee recognition programs or providing flexible work opportunities, organizations are doing what they can to proactively manage low morale.”

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of among 2,924 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government; with at least significant involvement in hiring decisions); and among 4,285 U.S. workers (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government); ages 18 and over, between August 20 and September 9, 2009.