Wanted: Morale boosters and busters

Send us your best and worst examples of morale-changing maneuvers perpetrated by managers.

According to a new study from Meta Group, morale among IT workers has dipped to an all-time low, despite the rising demand for certain skills. In a discussion, most TechRepublic members said they're experiencing low morale in their companies. While some said it was due to a lack of respect for their work, others blamed shrinking budgets and a lack of opportunity for career growth either within or outside their companies.

We'd like to showcase the best ways managers can reverse morale's downward spiral. We'd also like to illustrate the wrong ways to influence staff attitudes. If you've got an entry for our Morale Boosters Hall of Fame or our Morale Busters Hall of Shame, send it to us via e-mail.

Is low morale due to internal or external factors?

Member James Schroer said morale in his company has basically "bottomed out" due to a combination of internal and external factors.

"Is it internal factors? Sure we have people here that don't do jack and management won't do anything about it so the rest of us have to carry their weight," he wrote. "And we are a small firm so basically one of the techs can pull the plug and shut down the whole company and yet they don't treat the techs with any respect or praise."

As for external factors, Schroer said the job market offered no hope since the only positions available meant taking a pay cut or getting out of the IT field. "I've been in the IT field for a short six years and I'm burnt out already," he said.

Small ways to improve morale

Still, the smallest gestures can make a huge impact on the way IT workers feel about their work. Member David Planchon said that he believed morale could be lifted if "management teams not only recognized the difficulty of the times but actually allowed people to relieve stress in the office." He cited such perks as more "jean and t-shirt days," free lunches, and after-work parties as a few ways management could perk up workers' attitudes. He also said better communication and fewer "secrets," would improve the situation.

"I worked at Ford Motor Company for a while between the Jack Nasser and Bill Ford transition," he wrote. "One thing the execs started doing to re-create a bond between the workers and the VIPs was to have execs write a little story every week about how they got there, who they were, what they liked. Amazingly enough when those letters hit our Inboxes things in the office seemed to cool down a bit for a while. It would distract us from the insanity surrounding us."

Send us your best and worst examples

Help us create our Morale Boosters Hall of Fame and Morale Busters Hall of Shame to showcase the best and worst ways managers have affected staff spirits. If you or your manager has significantly boosted morale through a simple upgrade, relaxation of rules, or addition of a perk, tell us about it. Likewise, if you or your manager has goofed and lowered the morale of your staff, tell us via e-mail. Feel free to use pseudonyms to protect the guilty or innocent. We'll publish the best and worst for all to see.

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