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Auditor: Morale improving at WSI

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – A state auditor says morale is improving in the state's workers compensation agency.

But Gordy Smith says there's still work to do.

The auditor's office presented its follow-up to Workforce Safety and Insurance's performance audit to the Legislature's Audit and Fiscal Review Committee. The earlier report showed significant morale problems.

Smith says as part of the follow-up, WSI employees were asked some key questions about morale.

"In response to the statement, 'Employee morale is significantly improved in the last 2 1/2 years,' 38 percent selected 'strongly disagree' or 'disagree,'" Smith told the committee. "To the statement, 'Communication between management and other employees in the organization has significantly improved in the last 2 1/2 years,' 32 percent selected 'strongly disagree' or 'disagree.'"

Some committee members thought that line of questioning was irrelevant.

"I coulfd go into just about any agency and ask who agrees and who disagrees, and it depends on what day it is," said Rep. Bette Grande (R-Fargo).

But Smith said an outside consultant also identified morale problems in WSI.

"Things have improved," said Smith. "But we still think there's a ways to go."

WSI interim CEO Bruce Furness says he agrees with that assessment. He says he's working on the morale issue.