5 Obstacles Creating Lackluster Employee Motivation

by / ⠀Career Advice / August 4, 2013
tired girl at computer lacking employee motivation

Employee motivation is vital for the continuing success and development of any business. However, motivators do not only include good salaries and benefits, employers must dig deeper and understand ‘hidden’ employee values to understand what motivates them. Motivating employees can develop efficiency, promote positive relationships and create a stable working environment. For the majority of employees, three main goals motivate them; achievements, respect and having productive relationships with other employees. Employers, though, need to be aware of 5 obstacles that can potentially demotivate employees:

Lack of communication

The problem: The majority of employees are motivated when they start a new job, but demotivation can quickly set in after a few months. One of the reasons for this is lack of communication from management. The idea of “need to know” will only leave employees feeling frustrated and have a negative impact on productivity.

The solution: Proper communication from a manager begins with a clear organisational purpose (a reason for turning up each day of the week) and should be maintained by continual reinforcement and flow of information between employer and employee. If, for example, your company is about to undergo a restructure, it is important that employees are aware of the situation and how it is developing. If you are not much of a communicator, then you must change and improve this skill, while also taking the time to receive feedback from employees on the flow of information in your company.

No development or new responsibilities

The problem: If employees are going to remain motivated in their role, then they need to be learning new skills and being challenged on a regular basis. We are all aware of how repeating the same processes and not facing new challenges can negatively affect our attitudes, and this is no different in the work environment. Your employees understand that learning is the best way to remain employable, so to ignore this will only stall your employees and your business.

The solution: Let employees know about the opportunities that are in place to help them train and develop. New projects and more responsibility can help to improve motivation, while regular workshops can help to disseminate information and improve skills among your employees.

Inadequate recognition

The problem: A compliment about work performance can make a big difference to an employee’s level of motivation; at the same time, lack of recognition can leave workers wondering why they even bother. Recognition is a fundamental human need that reinforces positive actions and leads to their repetition, while a lack of recognition will have a negative impact on employee wellbeing and performance.

The solution: Both large and small contributions should be recognised by an employer. Also, rather than criticising employees about mistakes, provide them with constructive feedback that challenges them to improve. Workers do not only want recognition, but to learn where they can improve. Both positive and negative recognition should be based on facts, and favouritism is a definite no-no for employee wellbeing. It could be that you simply say well done or that you take your employees out for a drink, but recognition is ultimately important and unique to your organisation.

The wrong kind of employee motivation

The problem: Yes, motivation is important for all employees in a business if they are going to remain productive in their work. However, have you considered that not all employees will appreciate the same type of motivation? The workforce includes people from many different backgrounds, beliefs and values, but many managers remain unaware of such diversity and try to motivate employees in a manner that ultimately demotivates them.

The solution: Employers need to take the time to understand what it is that motivates employees, not only as a group, but as individuals. For some, money and benefits can make a big difference, while others appreciate praise, and then others still want to have a good work/life balance. It is a manager’s role to assess, understand and meet different motivational needs. One way in which this can be done is by meeting with employees and discussing what would help them in their role and what is negatively affecting their productivity.

Lack of leadership

The problem: If you add the above demotivators to poor management style, which does not demonstrate consistent leadership or maintain clear goals, then this can leave your workforce feeling hindered and looking elsewhere. Leadership is about more than just being the person at the top, and more to do with being aware of challenges in the work environment and how to remedy them.

The solution: Leadership begins with goals that combine that of your business and your employees, which ultimately requires good communication and planning. Furthermore, leading by example and going the extra yard yourself is vital if you expect your employees to be performing at a high standard. Good leadership also means applying a fair system of incentives, rewards and benefits, which encourages employees to work hard.

How to offer employees motivation

To finish, we are going to leave you with 5 key points to guard against demotivating your employees:

  • Inform employees when they do something good, and provide constructive feedback when they do something wrong.
  • Make sure that employees have clear goals to work towards.
  • Be consistent and fair in any disciplinary procedures.
  • Provide opportunities for training and development.
  • Be the positive example that employees should follow.

This article is provided by EDP which provides consultancy services to businesses that includes wellbeing, health & safety and corporate responsibility, to ensure a happier, more sustainable workforce.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.