I've been in three studios in as many days, and the theme that echoes back to me as I stumble around the halls is: "Our morale is crappy". Which is understandable given the staff reductions and salary rollbacks, not to mention the general good times in which we now live.
The plunging morale issue isn't news to anybody paying attention, but a new report highlights part of the problem.
A report called "Talent Tightrope: Managing the Workplace through the Downturn", has found that employers are unaware of their employees’ stress levels.
Hudson executive general manager Marc Burrage says that 44 percent of the 2394 employees surveyed indicted that worker morale has plummeted.
“In contrast, only 26 percent of the 247 employers interviewed acknowledge that workplace morale has dropped.”
He adds that local companies have responded to the global recession by slashing workforce costs through restructures and staff cuts ...
Almost a third of employees are concerned about losing their jobs. This is a very different scenario to only one year ago. Nearly half [42 percent] said they feel their job is less secure than the same time last year ...
I think the general cluelessness of employers referenced in the report is reflected in the actions of various animation studios (They are, after all, employers too.)
I could think of a bunch of examples, but let me give you one: During the recent contract negotiations, a studio rep came to us during the contract-talk equivalent of the ninth inning and proposed getting rid of his company's sick days. I told him I thought the proposal was on the late side, and also a bad idea. I then told the employees, and an already bad morale situation got worse.
In fact, the employees went sort of ape shit.
The studio, after due consideration, decided getting rid of sick days was maybe not such a swift idea after all and withdrew the proposal.
But here's my point: I think the idea was put forward in the first place because the company's management didn't have a clear grasp of how ticked off employees already were.
(Management, in my experience, often gets caught up in an echo chamber of its own design where it hears what it wants to hear, and tunes out bad news that gets in the way of preconceived notions. Let's stipulate here that it's often difficult to burrow down to cold, hard reality; a lot of union members tell me what they think I want to hear. So I'm not always the recipient of clear, shining truth either.)
The lesson in this story, I think, is that it's a good idea for corporate administrators to communicate with A) each other and B) the employees whose benefits they feel compelled to take away. "Talking things out" beforehand isn't necessarily going to solve the problem and it probably won't make people perform jigs in the hallways, but it will go a considerable distance in avoiding bigger mistakes and cushioning some of the blows that now fall on the folks who have to work for a living.