Development and Retention

Seven causes of demotivation at work

You want your workforce to stay enthusiastic and motivated but you have to take some responsibility in making this happen. Focusing on how different people are motivated and engaged will enable you to keep levels high, benefiting not just the individuals but the wider team and the business as a whole.

If you feel that an employee or a team is lacking in motivation, you need to understand the underlying reasons. Spotting warning signs early and taking action to rectify any issues will prevent talent loss and a reduction in productivity and performance.

Listen to what your employees need and want from you and your business and respond in the most effective way possible. It’s also worth assessing whether the following common causes of discontent could be having a negative effect on your business right now.

1. No career vision

An employee who has no idea where their career is going can begin to drift along in a less than motivated state. In contrast, one who has long-term goals to reach and short-term targets to hit should be spurred on to reach that next marker in their career.

2. A lack of security

It’s hard to feel motivated if you’re not sure how long you will be needed in your current role or where you will be in a year or two’s time. The most productive, motivated staff members, in contrast, will be those who feel that they have a long-term future with your company and can see opportunities on the horizon.

Your job is to use objective setting and regular coaching in order to boost the sense of security for employees – something which will almost certainly benefit your business in return.

3. Not feeling valued or appreciated

An under-valued employee is unlikely to remain motivated for very long, making it essential to recognise the efforts that your staff are making. There may be times when you want to hand out rewards to recognise achievements but very often a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ will suffice.

4. A lack of development opportunities

On-going development and training is proven to both boost and maintain morale. A role or an organisation that feels stagnant will not inspire motivation, whilst regular opportunities to grow and improve professionally almost certainly will.

Engage your workforce further by asking them where they think development opportunities or training would be most beneficial.

5. A lack of good leadership

Poor leadership is a recipe for negativity. It may engender a negative atmosphere in the workplace or a lack of direction, both of which have adverse effects on morale and productivity.

Good leaders are flexible and inclusive. They are able to communicate clearly and provide focus and clarity to their team, whilst boosting confidence and rewarding hard work. If you have an individual or a team working for you that is displaying classic signs of demotivation, it can be worthwhile looking up as well as down the chain of command in seeking the underlying cause.

6. Conflict stress

There are many benefits to be had from healthy debate within the workplace but none to be gained from bullying or intimidation. This is why you must strive to create an environment where conflict is managed effectively and bullying is never tolerated.

It can be useful to carry out an employee survey to identify any problems, giving staff the opportunity to express any concerns anonymously without having to worry about the impact of complaining about a colleague.

7. Over-work

An unrealistic workload can mark the start of a fast-track to demotivation, stress and increased attrition rates. Unless you keep a close eye on what is being demanded of and expected from your employees it can be easy for them to become over-burdened and under-achieve.

In contrast, an employee without enough to do or lacking challenge can soon become demotivated, simply because they are bored.

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