How to Motivate unmotivated Employees follows very closely to employee engagement which I have written about before. Engagement is about having a sense of purpose, ownership, and commitment to the company. Motivation, however, is the willpower and drive to act on those feelings.
Engaged employees will be highly motivated and generate the results managers look for. As motivation comes from engagement, this is where leaders and managers need to focus. Get the engagement correct, and the motivation will follow. However, it requires managing to ensure the employee does not burn out.
What causes employees to lose motivation?
A lack of motivation can be caused by many factors, including:
- Issues outside of work, such as family illness, bereavement, or financial worries.
- Lack of confidence in management decisions.
- Unrealistic targets.
- Toxic working environment.
- No visible career progression.
- Feeling under-appreciated or used.
Number one on this list is guaranteed to remove a person’s motivation and is dangerous to the employee and the immediate workforce. Managers and leaders need to be able to spot this and act upon it immediately.
How do you recognise demotivation?
Look out for any changes in behaviour or attitude. As a manager and leader, building a solid relationship with your employees is a must and, when done right, will help you spot subtle behavioural changes.
Some tell-tale signs that an employee has become demotivated include:
- Change in work ethic or procrastinating after arriving at the office.
- Change in personality towards the team, i.e. Mood swings, withdrawal
- Increased absence.
- Lack of concentration
- Toxic behaviours.
- Lack of interaction during team meetings
- Increasing reluctance to take on more responsibility than the ‘bare minimum.’
What is the impact of demotivation?
As well as the impact on an individual’s productivity, a demotivated employee can also affect the overall team, creating a hostile or even a toxic atmosphere. Additionally, with increased absenteeism or lateness at work and a lack of focus on daily tasks, other employees will become resentful as they feel they are carrying this person. Over time, this will lead to further demotivation or even conflict within the team, as team members start to feel resentful and angry.
How to increase employee motivation
Get to know your team.
Work on your relationships with individual employees and the overall team. Not only will this help you to spot demotivation earlier but having a close, supportive relationship with your team can help keep employees motivated by ensuring they feel valued, respected and listened to.
Be a servant leader.
Remember, employees leave their jobs due to problems with their managers. Managers impact a considerable amount of an employee’s overall job experience. They determine whom you work with, which projects you work on then if and when you get promoted. Through their action or inaction, managers can kill their team’s morale, motivation and productivity, so it’s essential to build their leadership skills. Don’t assume that leadership skills come innately and promote the concept of servant leadership. Most managers are now promoted on their fit for a company’s DE&I policy or requirement, thus generally zero leadership ability. Companies should provide intense management training and ongoing support and development for those promoted to management positions.
Get to know your team.
Since you can’t customise every single goal or project according to individual employees’ motivations, try to give them at least the freedom of meaningful choice. This, in turn, inspires willingness, according to motivation guru Edward Deci. For instance, allow them to choose how to approach a project or problem, and you can also ask for their input in setting targets and milestones.
Communicate targets and offer regular feedback.
Targets should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound). Ensuring that your team knows how their individual roles contribute to the bigger picture can help with motivation, as they’ll see how valued and essential their efforts are in meeting organisational objectives.
Make yourself accessible to your team and give constructive feedback. Allow for 360 feedback that is frequent, informal and honest. Having a range of input and goal-setting opportunities will help keep your team on track and clear about their progress. It also ensures that employees can discuss any issues or worries before they become overwhelming, affecting their happiness and motivation.
Publicly recognise outstanding work.
Who in your team goes the extra mile, consistently performs above expectations, or behaves in a way that reflects your company values? From those who make time to help new joiners settle in. To those who never miss a deadline. Let employees know how much you appreciate their effort. Try to recognise attitude and performance; an employee with a fantastic work ethic and a positive outlook can do just as much for team morale and motivation as someone consistently hitting their targets, so show them how much they are valued. A simple ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ can do the trick if you haven’t received a formal recognition scheme. It’s important to show recognition in a timely, consistent and meaningful way.
Whether it’s a project dragging on or tight resources, it’s easy for employees to get unmotivated and demoralised. They feel stuck in a rut or don’t have the right tools to do their job. Acknowledge challenges and work on solutions together as a team. Giving people the time to rant or get something off their chest is enough. You don’t have to fix everything, but being available to listen and empathise can work wonders.
Enhance the workspace.
Don’t overlook the impact of improving the workspace. Touches like adding furniture, plants, or artwork that will brighten up work areas can help create a place your employees will want to show up to every day and where they feel they can do their best work. When you have time, look at pictures of the Google and DPLUS offices.
Training and career progression.
Most employees will want the opportunity to progress in their roles, and if there is a lack of progression available or dead men’s shoes. They will lose motivation and will eventually look for a new job. Let employees know there’s a career path within the company career framework and encourage them to get involved in additional projects where possible. To take on more responsibility and gain new skills. Provide training, whether on-the-job or external and discuss any promotion opportunities they can work towards. Find out their career goals and how you can support their development; it shows you’re invested in them and value their contribution.
Introduce flexible working arrangements.
More and more employees value flexible working arrangements, which can include working from home or varying working hours, shift work, job sharing and compressed hours. Flexible working can bring an improved sense of work/life balance and improved morale and motivation. Allowing employees to work more flexibly can make them feel valued and trusted by their employer, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity. Flexible working is a popular and valued workplace benefit, bringing many business benefits.
Explore if this is an option for your team, you’ll need to consider equipment for remote staff, how to manage and monitor performance, and the impact on employees who don’t want to work flexibly.
Offer a fair compensation package.
Although factors such as company culture, career development, and job location all contribute to choosing where to work, fair compensation is among the most important. This includes a competitive salary in addition to benefits. Benefits play an important role in job satisfaction. Employees who feel appreciated at work through excellent benefits are likely to be happier and more motivated in their roles.