How to Deal with Demotivated Employees in Your Team | EmployeeConnect
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What Happens When Employee Motivation Is Low

How to Deal with Demotivated Employees in Your Team

According to Gallup‘s research, only 13% of employees would be motivated by their job worldwide. And with 63% of employees being “not engaged”, how can such low levels or no employee motivation be explained? Low salaries, gruelling work days, poor work environment or consequences of not motivating employees, are as many culprits for the disengagement of employees around the globe.

Under the current economic climate and existing budget constraints, today’s organisations are conscious that they cannot rely solely on remuneration packages to improve motivation and engagement. They seek better ways to comprehend the levers of motivation to solve this priority issue.

Employee motivation is contagious , and it is a major component of organisational success. In order to comprehend this multifaceted concept, we offer you to understand its ins and outs with this article.

What Is Work Demotivation?

Demotivation happens when employees have lost their inspiration or will to take action. This lack of interest and enthusiasm  for work can have disastrous consequences for an organisation. Demotivation should be differentiated from momentary lack of drive, which is usually caused by personal issues.

Demotivate employees or demotivated team can experience a lack of motivation temporarily or, in the worst cases, permanently. This is when managers have a great role to play. It’s important to tackle the issue before it becomes too deep and has the time to impact negatively other team members. The longer the problem is overlooked, the harder it’s going to be to re-inject motivation in an employee, if even possible.

What is low motivation? Managers should be on the lookout for the following warning signs that often translate a low moral:

  • Lower level of involvement or commitment
  • Unusual delays or unexplained and repeated sick leave
  • Impression that the employee is intentionally sabotaging projects or acting as a roadblock
  • Repeated mistakes or signs of thoughtlessness
  • Negative behaviours and attitudes
  • Lower productivity and performance
  • Disregards warnings and comments


What Can Be Learnt From Motivation Theory Today?

It exists a plethora of theories on motivation. Often supported by interesting and colourful experiments, they help us better understand the levers that play a role in influencing motivation. Amongst them, we can note:

  •  McClelland‘s Theory of Needs, which proposes that motivation is based on the intrinsic desire we have to overachieve and accomplish things.
  • The highly popular Maslow’s Pyramid, which is based on the satisfaction of needs classified in a certain hierarchy (i.e. physiological needs, needs of security, social interaction, self-esteem and self-actualisation)
  • Locke‘s Theory, based on the notion of objective
  • Skinner‘s Theory, which could be nicknamed the theory of “the stick & the carrot” or more scientifically of positive and negative feedback.

Among this pool of research and insights, Frederick Herzberg‘s motivation theory is probably the simplest to put in practice since it associates motivation to two major factors supposed to work independently: satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Neutralising factors of dissatisfaction doesn’t suffice to boost motivation in an organisation. It’s important to also work on improving the factors that bring satisfaction to employees such as the ability to achieve.

A lot of practical research has also taken place beyond this theoretical framework. It’s now commonly admitted that rewards and incentives boost performance and motivation. Among the most common factors of low level of motivation, the following causes stand out:

  1. Insufficient Pay
  2. Hurdles in the Employee-Manager Relationship
  3. Lack of Appreciation and Recognition
  4. Poor Work-Life Balance
  5. No Career Development Prospect


How Does Low Employee Motivation Impact Business?

The consequences of demotivation in workplace are as numerous as the number of its causes. And of course, organisations are the first to pay the price of employees’ disengagement. It’s important to keep in mind that a lack of motivation can be contagious. Sometimes, all you need is one demotivated employee to lead the pack and affect the rest of the team.

In fact, when you are demotivated at work, you are often stressed, aggressive, and reluctant to engage in any type of communication. Demotivation is a real obstacle to building efficient work relationships that are productive and constructive. Moreover, it can initiate a dangerous vicious circle that impacts negatively overall business performance and work quality.

Low levels of employee motivation have seven main consequences:

  1. Endangers economic stability
  2. Lower business performance
  3. Lower individual productivity
  4. Dissatisfied clientele
  5. Poor work quality
  6. Poor work atmosphere
  7. Demotivated teams


How to Re-Boost a Demotivated Employee?

Business management books are filled with recommendations and advices on the subject. In order for them to work in practice, it’s important for you, as the manager, to be motivated in the first place. While being motivated yourself is great, it’s far from being the solution to re-engage employees.

Bringing motivation to your team is a long-term job  which must be integrated in your management style. Adopting an inclusive and participative management style favours employee motivation. On the other hand, an authoritarian or coercive style would be the least adapted.

Employees who are affiliated to business decisions feel happier in their work. Emotions and feelings are leveraged to create a powerful bond that motivates employees who are in turn more committed to their role.

To give their best, employees should be able to evolve in an environment that promotes their wellbeing. Their should simply feel good to come to work and enjoy positive work relationships. That’s why it’s important for managers to solve conflicts early as soon as they arise in their team.

A management style that encourages competition can only be healthy to the extent that it doesn’t create tensions and hard feelings between team members. Hence why it’s crucial to organise frequent team building to federate employees.

A good work environment will also be dependent on an organisation’s internal communication, whether it is formal or informal. Everything is a matter of quantity and shouldn’t put the spotlight on teams while leaving individuals to the side. All should be recognised and appreciated according to their level of contribution in the organisation.

The managerial revolution that is required to engage and motivate might not be easy to implement, but it’s sure to deliver positive outcomes for organisations. HR departments should ensure that the work conditions that are provided to their employees don’t constitute an obstacle to employee engagement. On the other hand, a great workplace should be stimulating and motivating. A transparent communication , a culture oriented towards innovation and more agile business practices that encourage collaboration are key to bring achieve success and maintain a positive motivation levels.

Oriane Perrin

Customer Success & Growth Manager