What Demotivates Employee in Workplace

As an employer, you have a certain amount of responsibility for the motivation and well-being of your workforce. For a team to function to the best of its ability, all members must be fully engaged and fully committed.

It’s important to recognize that true engagement will mean different things to different people and to understand what really drives an individual’s motivation.

It’s crucial to really listen and respond to your employees’ needs to ensure high levels of engagement throughout your company. Spotting the warning signs of demotivation early and addressing them quickly can help encourage employee contentment and talent retention.

Main Factors that Demotivate Employee in Workplace


Micromanagers may have good intentions trying to get work done well but they drive us crazy. Micromanagement saps the life out of us, causing apathy at work and because a consistent pattern of micromanagement tells an employee you don’t trust his work or his judgment, it is a major factor in triggering disengagement.”

Those disengaged employees might stay at their company and muddle through, or decide to leave for more autonomy.

“People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.”

Feeling Under-Valued

If an employee feels that their efforts are not being recognized or appreciated, they’ll soon begin to lack energy and commitment in their role. It’s important to celebrate successes and give credit where credit’s due. Try to make sure that achievements are rewarded even if it’s just with a pat on the back.

Lack of Progress

As it turns out, money for nothing doesn’t feel so great. While it might seem that we work for our salary, studies like this one show we want to feel that our work matters.  

When a company can’t get its act together, or when any change or new idea a worker tries to implement has to go through endless layers of red tape, employees lose any motivation or passion that they might have had.  People like enough process to be effective, but not to create busy work.

Organizations should also be mindful of unnecessary rules that don’t actually benefit the company. (i.e. restrictive office hours, Internet usage, or vacation policies) When they start to feel controlling rather than efficient, employees bristle.


Conflict in the workplace is hugely detrimental. Healthy debate is often productive, but it’s important to keep an eye out for any workplace intimidation or bullying. Some employees may feel worried to come forward about issues relating to a fellow colleague – which is where an anonymous employee survey may help to reveal any problem areas.

Unrealistic workload

It’s important to keep a check on the expectations and demands that are being placed upon your employees. If someone feels overburdened by a large, impossible workload they can soon become disillusioned, stressed and lose motivation. Equally, if an employee has a workload that’s too light or not varied enough, they might quickly lose interest.

Job Insecurity

When we’re on a sinking ship, we start preparing for the jump. Employees who work for unstable companies or in jobs deemed expendable will only invest enough to keep getting their paycheck while they look elsewhere. The rest of their energy will be spent sharing rumors with co-workers, updating their resumes and planning their next move. 

As a leader, it’s extremely difficult to keep your best talent in place during uncertain times. The best you can do is to communicate frequently and give your team a sense of loyalty and trust. You can’t make people stay, but you can encourage transparency on both sides so you’re not surprised.

No Confidence in Company Leadership

We don’t have to love our leaders to be happy, but we can’t believe they’re incompetent. Once we lose faith in where our company is heading, then our loyalties fray and we cease to wholeheartedly follow. We can even get subversive.

George Anders cites a recent study that confirms the importance of excellent workplace leadership, saying, “bosses who inspire confidence, who show faith in their employees, and who communicate an inspiring vision…are rewarded with a workforce that is ready to get things done.” 

Not Recognizing Good Work

Imagine spending weeks working on a project or working through the weekend to make a client happy and then see no signs that your boss noticed or cared. When that happens, employees often conclude that since great work isn’t recognized, there’s no point in putting in extra effort or doing more than the bare minimum instant demotivation.

Ruling by Fear

Managers who rule through rigid control, negativity and a climate of anxiety and fear generally operate like that because they don’t trust that they can get things done any other way. But it ends up backfiring because fearful employees won’t take risks or bring up new ideas for fear of being attacked and won’t be honest about problems.

Moreover, very few great people with options want to work for a fear-based manager, so over time, these managers have trouble attracting strong workers.

Lack of Recourse for Poor Performance

When we go to work, we like to be rewarded and recognized for our contributions. If this isn’t happening, or worse, people doing mediocre work are getting the same treatment as strong performers, it’s natural to just turn off and do your job on autopilot. Companies that don’t deal with performance issues bring down the average for everyone.

Poor Communication

Not only does clear communications throughout the organization make for an efficient workplace, but it has a major impact on employee morale and confidence.     

Unpleasant Co-workers

The importance of working with people we like can’t be overstated. Friendships make up for a lot of ills, and the reverse is also true. A well-paying, career-enhancing job with a group of back-stabbers is a recipe for stress and misery.

Professor Christine M. Riordan reports, “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”

You don’t have to have best friends at work, but you do need to be able to relax around your colleagues and enjoy their company.

Vague Expectations

One of a manager’s most important jobs is to get employees aligned around clear goals and expectations. When that doesn’t happen, employees don’t have a clear understanding of what success in their jobs would look like – and it’s hard to excel when you’re not even sure what you should be excelling in.


Gen Y workers are known for seeking jobs that are personally satisfying and inspiring to them, but they’re not alone. As this statistics-packed Huffington Post article reveals, 55% of Gen X and Gen Y workers believe that finding a job that’s personally fulfilling is worth sacrifices in salary.

A recent LinkedIn poll also shows this increasing desire for fulfillment among various age groups and geographies. The research found that those over 65 were the most excited about their work, showing that we all want to be inspired no matter where we are in our careers. 


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1 Comment

  • roy

    May 19, 2020 - 12:48 pm

    Great ideas,

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