A survey, responded to by 81 per cent of staff, showed 79.5 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed that moral was generally good.
It also revealed nearly a quarter of staff felt they had been bullied or harassed at work and 27.2 per cent agreed or strongly agreed they had been subjected to unfair or abusive behaviour.
Addressing a scrutiny meeting on Tuesday, chairman Councillor Mick Titherington, said: “The figures are horrendous. There’s no disguising it, it’s a devastating result, it’s dire.”
Council leader Coun Peter Mullineaux agreed the results were “very upsetting”.
He said: “For me, it’s up to every individual councillor and every individual employee to treat people fairly and with dignity, and providing we go along that route, we will see a major turnaround at this council.”
Coun Matthew Tomlinson said: “I don’t think that’s just going to happen, just because the leader said we have to treat people with respect. We need a plan.”
Coun Mullineaux declined to give details on plans he had in mind.
More than 51 per cent of staff also said they did not feel their work was valued by councillors, and 74 per cent were unsure or not optimistic about the council’s future.
Council chief executive Jean Hunter said staff sickness had doubled over the past year, but the results were “not a surprise and reflects where we are at at the moment.”
She said a raft of work was underway to make improvements, including new 360 degree appraisals, policy updates and managers talking to teams.