Attitude is Everything: Motivating Demotivated Employees

2 min read

“Show employees you care. Seek to be genuinely curious about others’ perspectives and what matters to them. Make it known their opinions matter to you” -Dr. Cheri Rainey

Motivation is rather complex and elusive, isn’t it? In fact, you really cannot “motivate” another person. However, regardless of position or field of work, lagging motivation can seriously inhibit overall productivity and can negatively affect your career and team’s success. Unmotivated employees who routinely “just show up” typically may have a negative mindset, feel outcasted at work, or lack the spark to flourish productively and tend to be more inclined to leave their positions. In fact, in a survey of 2,000 employees, almost half (43%) said they are looking for a new job, and corporate culture was the main reason.

Conversely, motivated employees who come to work with a positive attitude are eager to learn/ contribute, and produce accurate and better work. Referencing Harrison Assessment’s twenty five plus years of research proves that employees who enjoy at least 75% or more of their job are almost three times (300%) more likely to succeed than employees who enjoy less than 75% of their job. The impact of demotivated employees can be huge (vacant positions, increased salary cost, more workload for others, lower morale for teams, etc.), while costs of creating motivational environments and systems can be relatively small. As leaders, creating an environment for your employees to choose to be engaged and motivated is crucial. The absence of that environment proves very costly to your organization.

Employees want to love their job and workplace—to feel like what they do matters – that they contribute significantly to the team and organizational success. Thus, it is critical to uncover what might be demotivating and discouraging employees at work. Demotivation can be caused by a slew of things—boredom, feeling overworked, lack of career progression, compensation fairness, etc. Even issues outside work may impact the employee’s productivity and satisfaction. You may sense an employee is demotivated if their mood begins to change, they are reluctant to take on more work/responsibility, or if there is increased absence from the workplace.

Once you recognize a “checked out” employee, tactfully and respectfully schedule a conversation to problem solve and co-create a plan of action, together. Utilizing a science-backed behavioral evaluation, like the Harrison Assessment, as a platform for said discussion, can help employers/leaders pinpoint each employee’s workplace engagement expectations.

Knowing each employee’s preferences makes a one-on-one discussion rich and productive, solving motivation issues effectively and efficiently, all while showing you care about your people and their needs, as well as quality organizational performance levels.

After co-creating clarity of next steps for yourself as the leader and for your employee, encourage employees to set goals, hone in on their strengths, and maintain a routine. These three things alone will increase productivity and clarity of purpose. Check in often to ensure the employee is on track, their expectations are being met–or exceeded–morale is high, and the workload is fair.

LEADERSHIP TAKEAWAY: Remember, a happy, engaged workplace doesn’t have to cost the organization financially. Factors related to job satisfaction are measurable and predictable. Smart managers know how to use that knowledge to design and implement motivational environments that attract and retain top talent. 

Would you like to be a better leader? Contact us about leadership training that can advance your business.

Dr. Cheri Rainey is the CEO/Founder of Rainey Leadership Learning, partnering with leaders to support the entire employee life cycle.