It's going to take more than the improving economy to boost the mood of the IT workforce, according to a Meta Group study that shows morale is at an all-time low in IT organizations. If not rectified soon, this problem could cause longer-range turnover, reduced productivity, and less overall shareholder values to the organization.As part of its 2004 IT Staffing and Compensation Guide, Meta asked more than 650 companies about their human capital management practices. More than 72% of respondents concede their IT groups have a morale problem."Working through this prolonged recession, which has seen budget cuts across the enterprise, numerous staff cutbacks, and general sector uncertainty, has definitely taken its toll on IT employee morale," says report author Maria Schafer, senior program director with Meta Group. "The combination of these factors creates a difficult situation for the IT organization: productivity is hurt by having fewer people, fewer investment dollars for projects, and a perception that companies do not focus on retention."Companies determine levels of IT employee satisfaction through several methods. The most popular is the employee satisfaction survey, followed by performance reviews, informal process, suggestion box and focus groups. In some cases, though, all it might require is minimal organization skills to notice the lack of smiling faces.What are companies doing to quell the morale problem? According to the Meta report, 45% of those companies surveyed are using employee recognition programs to boost morale. Another 40% have implemented skill development opportunities. Other actions taken to improve morale include career development opportunities, co-sponsored events, recognition events, an annual action plan, challenging work, professional development, and communication. Only 4% of respondents said they use spot bonuses as an incentive, while a fortunate 2% were able to ease workload burdens by hiring more staff.Schafer recommends organizations tackling the problem by taking a broader view of morale issues, and turn them into challenges that can bring about new behaviors and better business performance.The 2004 IT Staffing and Compensation Guide contains more than 900 pages analyzing the best practices in human capital management. Go to https:\/\/www.metagroup.com\/us\/commerce\/prodDetails.do?oid=44245 for an executive summary and other details, including information about how you can purchase the $6,000 study.