Why It’s Easier to Demotivate than Motivate Employees

Why It’s Easier to Demotivate than Motivate Employees

Every year, the Gallup organization poll’s American workers to find out how many of them are motivated and engaged. The numbers have not looked good in recent years. In 2018 though, there was some slight improvement. Gallup reveals that the rate of employee engagement climbed to 34%, reaching an all-time high since the survey began.

The numbers also show that the ‘actively disengaged’ group dropped to 13% in 2018, also a new record. It’s all good news. But is it good enough? Should we be satisfied that some 66% of America’s employees consider themselves disengaged?

BenefitMall, a payroll and benefits administration provider, says that disengagement plays a significant role in employee turnover. The less employees are engaged, the less they are motivated. And the less they are motivated, the more likely they are to look for greener pastures at some point.

What Causes Disengagement

Imagine a new employee just starting work on that first day. She has a smile on her face; she is bubbling with excitement; she cannot wait to get things done. Three years later she stands at the water cooler complaining about work with everyone else on her team. What happened? What caused her to be demotivated and disengaged?

The truth is that people do not leave companies. They leave their supervisors. They leave because their supervisors either don’t know how to motivate or are just unwilling to do so. That’s unfortunate because things don’t have to be this way.

It is easy to be demotivating as a boss. In fact, it doesn’t require any work. Just do what is natural to the human condition and demotivating employees just happens. On the other hand, it takes real effort to be a motivational kind of supervisor.

How to Change the Game

BenefitMall says that one of the keys to reducing turnover is to motivate employees and make sure they are engaged. There are a number of ways to do this. Below are a few suggestions, some of which might not apply to your workplace.

1. Show Workers You Trust Them

One of the things disengaged employees routinely complain about is not being trusted. They feel micromanaged throughout the day to the point where they are unable to make decisions or give input. The way to solve the problem is to show your employees that you do trust them. Give them the freedom to do their work in whatever way they know is best. Ask for their input and receive it when they offer.

2. Get Rid of the Ambiguity

Another thing that stifles engagement is ambiguity. In other words, workers who never know what is expected of them don’t know how to make the boss happy. With no direction they have no purpose for coming to work every day. The obvious solution here is to get rid of the ambiguity.

Management should set clear expectations along with equally clear measurements of success and failure. Workers need to know that they are meeting expectations. Otherwise, they never know whether or not they are getting the job done.

3. Recognize Achievement

Finally, we have become a culture so afraid of hurting feelings that we tend to avoid recognizing achievement. But such avoidance only leads to disengagement and a lack of motivation. On the other hand, recognition motivates workers to do better. So make the effort to recognize achievement.

We are getting better in terms of engaging and motivating employees. But we still have a long way to go. With nearly two-thirds of all employees reportedly unmotivated and disengaged, there is no time to sit still.