How can employers create a motivating workplace? We take a look at some of the factors that can cause demotivation, with tips to build a happy and motivated team.
What causes employees to lose motivation?
A lack of motivation can be caused by many factors, including:
- Lack of confidence in management decisions
- Unmanageable workload
- Unsuitable working environment
- Lack of career progression
- Feeling under-appreciated
- Issues outside of work such as family illness, bereavement or financial worries
How do you recognise demotivation?
Look out for any changes in behaviour or attitude – as a manager, building a strong relationship with your employees will help you to spot when something isn’t quite right.
Some tell-tale signs that an employee has become demotivated include:
- Lack of punctuality – arriving late to work, or an increased time to start work after arriving at the office
- Change in mood towards colleagues
- Increased absence from work
- Lack of focus, and a distantness from colleagues
- Inappropriate or negative comments
- Lack of input into 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 negative atmosphere. Additionally, with increased absenteeism or lateness at work and a lack of focus on daily tasks, other employees can become stressed when trying to pick up the slack. Over time, this can lead to further demotivation in the team, as colleagues feel overworked and under-appreciated.
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, having a close, supportive relationship with your team can help keep employees motivated by ensuring they feel valued, respected and listened to.
- Be a transparent, respectful, and supportive manager.
Surveys show that up to half of employees leave their jobs due to their problems with their managers. Managers impact a huge amount of an employee’s overall job experience – they help determine who you work with, which projects you work on, if and when you get promoted. Through their action or inaction, managers have the power to damage the morale, motivation and productivity of their team, so it’s important to build their leadership skills. Don’t assume that leadership skills come innately – companies should provide management training for those promoted to management positions, and ongoing support and development.
- Get to know your team.
Since you can't customise every single goal or project according to individual employees’ motivations, try to at least give them the freedom of meaningful choice - this, in turn, inspires willingness, according to motivation guru Edward Deci. For instance, allow them to choose the way to approach a project or problem, and you can also ask their input in setting goals. A recent Gallup poll found that employees whose managers included them in goal-setting were over three times more engaged than those who aren't given a say.
- Communicate goals, and offer regular feedback.
Goals should be time-bound, measurable, and realistic. 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 important their efforts are in meeting organisational objectives.
Make yourself accessible to your team, and give constructive feedback: allow for two-way feedback that is frequent, informal and honest. From one-to-ones to team meetings, performance appraisals and personal development planning, having a range of opportunities for feedback and goal-setting will help to keep your team on track and clear about their progress. It also ensures that employees have the chance to discuss any issues or worries before they become overwhelming, affecting their happiness and motivation in their role.
- Recognise great 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 that make time to help new joiners settle in, to those that never miss a deadline, make time to let employees know how much you appreciate their effort. Try to recognise attitude as well as 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 got a formal recognition scheme in place – it’s just important to show recognition in a timely, consistent and meaningful way.
- Acknowledge challenges.
Whether it’s a project dragging on or resources are tight, it’s easy for employees to get demoralized when they feel stuck in a rut or that they 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 have a rant or get something off their chest is enough - you don’t have to fix everything, just 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.
- Offer career progression.
Most employees will want the opportunity to progress in their roles, and if there is a lack of progression available, they’re likely to lose motivation and will eventually look for a new job. Let employees know that there’s a career path for them within the company, and encourage them to get involved in additional projects where possible, to take on more responsibility and gain new skills. Try to 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 the option to work from home or to vary working hours, as well as shift work, job sharing and compressed hours. Flexible working can bring an improved sense of work/life balance and improved morale and motivation. Allowing employee to work more flexibly can make them feel valued and trusted by their employer, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity at work. Flexible working is a popular and valued workplace benefit, which brings a range of business benefits too.
Explore whether flexible working practices are feasible for your business – you’ll need to consider things like equipment for remote staff, how to manage and monitor performance, and the impact on employees that 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 such as healthcare, parental leave, and paid holidays. Benefits play an important role in job satisfaction - a study by the Bersin Group found that productivity at companies with good benefits and incentive packages in place was 14% higher than those without. If employees feel appreciated at work through great benefits on offer, they’re likely to be happier and more motivated in their role.
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