8 Reasons You Have Unmotivated Employees & How To Inspire Them


Why You Have High Employee Turnover

According to a Gallup research poll, only 30% of the U.S. workforce is engaged in its work. The vast majority of U.S. workers (70%) are not reaching their full potential. A study of 64 organizations revealed that highly engaged employees achieve two times the annual income of organizations whose employees are mostly disengaged. Analyzing how and why your employees are motivated will increase your productivity & profits. Employees with different levels of education and diverse cultural backgrounds possess unique motivations.

Many companies try to incentivize employees, but these only work when the individual places a high value on the allurement. Inspirations must be important and obtainable or they will waste your time and money.

Intrinsic Motivation
Intrinsically motivated people want to fulfill basic needs such as food, shelter, financial comfort, feelings of pride, joy, increased self-esteem, and personal satisfaction. They want to prove to themselves that they have self worth and are the people they aspire to be. As Forbes remarks, rewards that are strictly monetary will stifle the creativity of a project and an employee’s unique approach. In fact, HR trends indicate that higher financial rewards lead to lower performance. Studies have shown that paying an employee too much can have adverse effects on their work performance.

Extrinsic Motivation
Extrinsically motivated individuals want to please others in order to receive positive responses, praise, acceptance and recognition. They like a tangible outcome as a result of their performance such as a certificate, a public announcement, a scholarship, grades, and level systems. Telling extrinsically motivated people that they have to do something because you said so is ineffective and a waste of time. You must motivate on a cerebral level and drive employees towards THEIR desired outcome.


1. No Incentives

Factory workers etc., often benefit from the carrot and the stick method of reward. In situations where daily or weekly quotas were met, a minimum error rate was achieved, a time schedule was abided, provide a flex hour pass, day pass, lunch pass, or personal appointment pass. Employee compliance will increase if you implement a level system (Examples:  20 flex passes turned back in equals a free pizza dinner, bagel & donut breakfast, 40 flex passes turned back in equals a free baseball game day, 200 flex passes equals two days as a supervisor, a new responsibility assigned…).

2. No Stability
Offer a stable, secure future. Establish employee criteria that guarantees 6 months, one year, and three years employment. Your commitment and belief in them will increase their interconnectivity and motivation for you. Most employees work for a person they respect  and feel respected by and not for their company.

3. Boring Work

Break the monotony.Create 2-3 skill rotations (Example: each hour employees with skill A could move to skill B, skill B workers could move to skill C). Diversifying your employees’ day will engage them more, develop their skill base, and increase their loyalty to you. This extra training and effort will reward you with increased production levels, compliance, attendance, fewer workers’ compensation claims, and better attitudes.

4. Not A Happy Place
Reward productivity by empowering employees. Let your workers choose a reward within your budget.  Choice equals empowerment. Empowerment equals job satisfaction. Rewards could include: hat day, music, dinner, bagel breakfast, gambling night, baseball game… Provide fun games that promote employee interaction. For example:  match a baby picture with the employee, hide an object -where’s Waldo… Create a game / lounge room so your employees can have fun connecting with each other. We spend more time at work than we do with our own families.  Creating a positive work culture will yield increased profitability  for you. HR trends indicate that the more you deepen your employees’ alliances to each other, the less likely they will skip out on work or leave.


5. Stagnant Creativity

White collar professionals want autonomy, a sense of purpose that what they are doing matters to the world, and mastery of a skill important to them.  Contrive a program in which your staff generates one creative objective every other month that improves their work mission or connects their work with the outside world. At the end of the month have your employees do a 5 minute presentation on how they accomplished this skill and identify why it matters to the big picture. Use a white board to show off the objectives of the month. Offer your employees with 10 creative submissions a new responsibility that leads them to their next career goal. Identify 5-10 tasks that may be overwhelming specific positions and offer these tasks to employees’ wanting to build their skill set.  When employees increase their skill sets, they remain interested in their jobs. Employees with multiple skill sets offers diversity and interest to their career.  Their diverse skill set also provides more  flexibility to you so that when life issues arise (pregnancy, health, family demands), these employees can take over and fill in various positions.

6. No Trust

Inspire through trust. Modern HR management realizes if you treat your employees with respect they will be motivated to achieve more. Include employees in senior management meetings and help individuals recognize their career potential. Let  employees know that you listen to them, value their input, and see them as an integral part of your business. To convert extrinsically motivated employees to intrinsically motivated employees make it clear  that your success is dependent on every single person. This will create a respectful culture and no one will want to leave.

7. Lack Of Company Mission
Employees need clear direction. You must convey your organization’s objective as a whole and communicate how each employee’s job assignment contributes to the business’s aim internally and externally. When employees understand and feel their presence is helpful to your organization and to the world, loyalty and job satisfaction will  increase. Establish a public purpose such as serving the homeless or creating a greener world and give your employees the opportunity to volunteer their skills and efforts. Build in trimester employee volunteer days. Integrate 2-3 employees from each department to work together on a volunteer day. Breaking away from the normal routine and colleague group will increase employees’ friendships and recharge their focus and creativity.

8. No Opportunity
Career advancement opportunity may be the most important motivator.Ongoing skill development and education opportunities will validate your staff’s employment status is worthwhile. Your supervisors should stay informed about vacant positions and the required skills, so they can facilitate the teams’ advancement. Supervisors are mentors and must know their employees’ career goals and be able to advise them on how to attain their target. For example, supervisors should keep abreast of internal means of advancement and try to facilitate employees’ desires to grow within the company. Open the career conversation and you will be rewarded with devoted employees. If your employee is loved, give them the skills to be set free.  If they love your organization, they will not leave, or they will return soon with even more to offer.  Richard Branson advises that companies train people well enough so they can leave, but treat them well enough so that they don’t want to.

Strategize and reform your department or organization by following these 4 steps.
1. Identify the most likely reason your employees are unmotivated.
2. Choose your favorite solution or two solutions.
3. Select and empower an employee to be the director of this transformation.
Keep repeating the process (steps 1-3) after each change is successfully implemented and the change is an integral part of your company or departmental culture.

For more human resource management ideas for your company read Putzier’s,”Get Weird! 101 Innovative Ways to Make Your Company a Great Place to Work.”


By: Kristen Goodell, M.Ed, Co-Owner
Kristen converts inefficient safety & compliance management systems and siloed technology into a dynamic workflow with end to end client support. Through our implementation process we reveal areas of hidden risk and produce new best practices for your compliance management team.

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