One of the most common dilemmas organisations struggle with is keeping employees motivated to perform at their best. Even in workplaces with modern values, it’s not rare to hear about high-performing employees losing their passion before eventually leaving their teams.
As an employer, you may think an unenthusiastic team member is an isolated case, however, demotivation is highly contagious. This lack of enthusiasm can spread to others until a sense of heaviness hangs over the office environment and affects overall harmony and productivity.
At its core, demotivation can stem from issues within work culture or the employees themselves. To help you address the problem at its roots, here are some of the most common causes of employee demotivation and what you should do about them:
A “Heavy” Work Environment
A heavy office environment can make it difficult for employees to work even if they have the right skills, friendly colleagues, and a manageable workload. When we say “unsuitable work environments,” we’re not just talking about dimly lit rooms and cramped desks. An unbearable office atmosphere can also result from a toxic work culture, which drives employees away from their jobs.
To truly improve your office environment, you should proactively take the necessary steps to address potential problems in your workplace culture. The effects of work culture on team morale can bring positive results such as a strong camaraderie and a heightened sense of trust. With this, you may want to invest in employee engagement activities or enlist the help of a culture coach for a more structured approach to resolving the problem.
Lack of Appreciation from the Organisation
Studies have shown that 79 per cent of workers quit their jobs due to a lack of appreciation. After all, it’s hard to keep working in a place where you know your efforts will only go unnoticed. Recognising team members for their performance and attitude boosts their engagement and encourages them to achieve higher productivity.
Employees also feel undervalued when they don’t see their importance in the company hierarchy. If the inherent value of their job is important to them, perhaps you can discuss how their tasks play into the broader context of a team or organisation.
Boredom and Career Stagnancy
Employees who are bored with their jobs are withdrawn and unwilling to participate in activities that require team collaboration. These employees are most likely uninterested in their everyday tasks and spend each day fulfilling the bare minimum requirement of logging in and out. Apathy results from the belief that each working day involves the same set of repetitive tasks that will not contribute to their professional growth.
To resolve this, you can incentivise top performers and provide regular feedback that will help all team members progress in their careers. Moreover, you can encourage team members to take on additional responsibilities or undergo training or upskilling programs that will benefit them beyond their stay in the company. Take the time to talk to your employees about their career goals, how the organisation can support these goals, and possible opportunities for promotion.
Workers saddled with unmanageable tasks are highly vulnerable to burnout. They are also prone to producing low-quality output, which is counterproductive to your company’s goals. If your employees have too much on their plate, they can quickly lose steam and feel less motivated to keep going.
The solution to unmanageable workloads varies from workplace to workplace, but the best way to go about it is to resolve it as a team. If resources are tight or project deadlines are unnegotiable, the organisation’s leaders must acknowledge these workload challenges and work out a compromise with the team.
Lack of Trust in Management
A widely held belief that employees are discouraged from doing their best if those at the helm are unsympathetic, inflexible, and controlling. To prevent your employees from losing motivation and quitting, instil respect, support, and transparency in your leadership team. You may want to provide extra resources such as management training to help your leaders maximise their capacity to drive the team forward.
Even if you see your employees for five days a week, you never really have a clear picture of what’s going on in their lives. An underperforming employee may seem inefficient or lazy at first glance, but other factors may prevent them from performing well, no matter how much they want to do their best.
To effectively motivate employees even if their situations are beyond your control, you must remember to practice empathy. Employees going through a bereavement, illness (physical and mental), or any other life-defining issues might need extra support from the hand that feeds them. You can opt to implement flexible work arrangements or allow employees to take some days off to address pressing issues in their personal lives. Sometimes, a bit of support is what your employees need to be in the right headspace and get back to their tasks with renewed vigour.
Motivating One Means Motivating All
As with all relationships, arrangements between an employer and employee are both give and take. Employees provide the necessary work that drives the company, while employers offer the support employees need in return. Employers should go beyond viewing unmotivated employees as “bad apples” and consider them valued team members who may need a little push. By nurturing these employees, you’re actively sustaining a passionate, driven, and self-directed team working towards personal and professional growth.