ADDRESSING A PROBLEM OF EMPLOYEE MORALE
BY: Everett Ward
Wrightsville Beach Fire Department
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
An applied research project submitted to the National Fire Academy
as part of the Executive Fire Officer Program
- 69 -
- 70 -
After two hurricane disasters a morale problem existed among the employees of the
Town of Wrightsville Beach. The problem extended across departmental lines and included the
fire department. It was determined that stress symptoms extended beyond those associated with
the two disasters and were dormant in the workforce prior to and after the disaster events.
The purpose of this research was to identify stress factors within the employee ranks,
review select concepts of leadership and associated subjects, and make recommendations to
alleviate the impact of stress factors in the workforce. An action research methodology was
Research questions that were answered were: 1. What is wrong? 2. What does literature
offer to address the problem? 3. What action can be taken? 4. What is the expected outcome?
Procedures included employee stress assessments and evaluations. An action plan to improve
the workplace environment for the town body was derived following the initiation of a key
mission statement. The fire department created its own action plan including a series of
employee group sessions identifying specific factors of communication, trust, respect, and
teamwork. An in-house correspondence study on leadership was initiated. Surveys were taken
to measure success rates. Literature was reviewed that was central to the identified issues.
Expected outcomes relative to the survey, observations, and action plans were evaluated and
recorded. The result of the research indicated that efforts both town-wide and in the fire
department were effecting a positive change to improve the workplace environment.
Recommendations call for continuation of the action plans and further evaluation. Leadership