Are your employees unmotivated?
23 February 2017

Are your employees unmotivated?


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


Employee engagement Leadership and management Strategy culture and values


According to a 2015 study conducted by Eden Springs it found that almost half of UK workers are unmotivated at work.
A similar survey carried out by BUPA concluded that 46% of workers don’t put extra effort into their role simply because they don’t feel appreciated or rewarded.

There are many reasons why an individual, team or even an entire workforce may not feel motivated, whatever the cause it’s your job as a business leader or HR representative to improve the working environment and create a culture where employees are inspired and motivated to give 100%.

“The UK came 18th out of 20 countries in terms of employee satisfaction at work”

Why are your employees unmotivated?

unmotivatedRespect and professional courtesy play a crucial role in building a strong company culture which nurtures inspiration and motivation.

Motivating employees doesn’t require grand gestures from business leaders. Little daily courtesies such as a quick chat with your team to check everything is okay as well as showing empathy and consideration for an individual’s situation can go a long way.

A manager that can spot the signs of a disengaged and unmotivated employee can address the situation by speaking to that worker and helping them to address and resolve issues where possible.

Staff can feel unmotivated for a variety of reasons. These include:

  • No clear career path or lack of progression
  • Lack of transparency from management
  • Simply being bored
  • No confidence in company decisions or management
  • Poor working conditions
  • Over worked or unreasonable expectations from a team leader
  • Micromanagement
  • A feeling that they aren’t trusted by the business
  • Feeling unappreciated

43% of the UK workforce experience work related stress more than half of the time

The Guardian

How can a lack of motivation affect the employee and your brand?

It’s not just the individual concerned whose productivity is damaged by a lack of motivation. Employees in the immediate vicinity, or who communicate regularly with them, will also be adversely affected.

Negativity, even from just one individual, can create an unproductive and toxic atmosphere. The added distraction of someone that isn’t damaged brandinterested in their own role responsibilities can (and will) inevitably cause a drop in productivity throughout a team.

Increased absence can also be a tell-tale sign that an employee is lacking in motivation. There are obviously genuine reasons for a person to take time off from work however an increase in dentist appointments, leaving early to ‘pick someone up’ or arriving to the office late because of imaginary traffic should warrant extra attention.

These additional episodes of absence can also take a toll on customer relationships too. Missed appointments or deadlines as a result of increased absence can delay projects and ultimately affect your brand.

A strong company culture and employer brand demands mutual respect between business leaders and employees. Dealing with individuals that begin to show a lack of respect for their colleagues and employer is essential for the welfare of your business.

“69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated”


How can you spot an unmotivated employee?

One important element and skill of being a great leader is the ability to spot changes in employee’s behaviour and act accordingly.
Getting to know your subordinates will help to ensure that if there is a change in the demeanour or behaviour then it will become more obvious to you.
If you’re a stranger to your team, then how can you expect to identify a problem with an individual based on their characteristics?

Some of the tell-tale signs of demotivation are:

  • Spending more time away from their desk on breaks or at colleague’s workstations
  • Diminished focus on daily tasks
  • Absences increase
  • A distant and uninterested approach
  • Increased delay between arriving at the office and starting work
  • A general decline in mood and positive behaviour
  • Increased negative comments
  • A lax approach to punctuality

How can you encourage motivation?

Just talk to your employees

talk to employees‘Employee voice’ is a vital element of a successful working relationship and business success. Not listening to your employees will leave them feeling unappreciated, distant and unmotivated.
By ensuring that you are transparent with your employees and convey that you trust them you’ll encourage them to reciprocate.

Understanding the challenges individuals face will enable you to collaborate to help overcome them and improve their working environment and, ultimately, their motivation and job satisfaction.

Be genuine

No one likes to be patronised, if you want your employees to feel like you take an interest in their wellbeing then you need to be genuine. This will help to build a friendly and collaborative working environment.

Being honest with your employees encourages open discussion and feedback about ideas and decisions.

Explain goals and requirements clearly

rewardVague or incorrect instructions will frustrate employees and result in wasted time for both them and the business.

When an individual fully understands the requirements of a task or project then their confidence will increase, their time management will be more accurate and they’ll feel more motivated to complete that task well and on time.
Receiving poor instruction devalues what they’ve been assigned and reduces the likelihood that 100% effort will be applied.

Setting goals and milestones also enables an employee to measure their own success. Overachieving on certain goals such as completing a milestone ahead of a deadline or surpassing expectations is a great motivation.

“24% of employees worldwide are “actively disengaged””


Rewards and incentives

Offering incentives in any situation in life nurtures motivation.

Working towards a tangible reward provides purpose and a goal. Whether this is a reward which benefits an individual personally or they’re made aware of the business benefits which directly or indirectly affect them.

Making a game out of certain projects (gamifying) or tasks can be a great strategy too. This can either be of a competitive nature or on an individual basis.

Recognition can be used as a reward too. Promoting and publicising a job well done by an employee to the rest of the business can be the motivation they need to achieve great results.

Adopt a flexible approach to work

Modern day employers are expected to offer a flexible working environment. Adjusting hours to accommodate employee’s personal circumstances and accepting remote working as standard practice.

Adapting to your employee’s individual needs increases motivation as well as professional relationships and employee wellness.
Allowing flexible hours and telecommuting not only improves your employer branding but also enables a more diverse workforce and larger talent pool to recruit from.