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  • Writer's pictureDr. Vera Alves

Have Good but Demotivated Employees? It's Time to Re-Engage your Workforce! Part 1

Updated: Apr 16, 2022


Imagine a united, mission-oriented, and highly motivated workforce prepared to take on the industry challenges and boost the company's revenue through the roof! This is the team all managers would like to lead. A motivated workforce is a massive competitive advantage. However, developing such a work culture isn't straightforward. One element is key to building such an engaged team: motivation. What is employee motivation, and how can leaders change a demotivated workforce? In part one of this two-part series, we will reflect on the role of motivation in employee engagement and the reasons why many employees lose motivation at work.

What is 'motivation?' Why does it matter?

Motivation refers to "the willingness to get the job done by starting rather than procrastinating, persisting in the face of distractions, and investing enough mental effort to succeed." It accounts for as much as 40% of the success of team Projects, according to a very interesting HBR article.[1] Employee motivation is generally the level of energy, enthusiasm, innovation, and commitment the employee holds during an average working day. A well-motivated employee is a massive asset to an organization. Additionally, enthusiasm, drive, ability to accomplish tasks quickly and take action can be contagious! Employee motivation is critical at every level in an organization, but how can leaders promote a more motivated workforce?

Impact of disengagement at work

According to Gallup, almost 85 percent of employees worldwide are actively disengaged at work. [2] In the U.S., 36% of employees are engaged in their work, so there is much room for improvement.[3] Lack of motivation frequently results in disengagement, which increases absenteeism and turnover rates, and decreases collaboration, productivity, and profitability levels, among many other negative impacts on firm performance.[2]


Why do employees lose motivation at work?

Most employees are excited and motivated to work and perform when they first join a company. When and why do they lose motivation at work? Here are a few reasons worth considering:

Lack of career development opportunities: Employees need to feel that they are developing their skills, gaining industry exposure, and getting enough opportunities to progress in their careers. In other words, managers should provide them the opportunity to challenge, expand, and improve their skills and knowledge. When good employees are not allowed to grow, chances are they will feel that they don't matter and will probably look for other work opportunities. And even if they stay, they will probably mentally check out.[4]

  • Job insecurity: Most employees need a feeling of stability at work. Unstable companies or managers are strong predictors of demotivation and often lead employees to lose motivation and seek other job opportunities.

  • Poor leadership: Employees working under an incompetent or lousy boss easily lose motivation. According to Gallup, managers are responsible for 70% of the variance in team engagement.[5] Poor company leadership fails to inspire or motivate the employees to get things done. Managers should have ongoing coaching conversations with the employees. They should have frequent, meaningful conversations with the team, provide them with the right tools and direction, and prevent micromanagement.

  • Psychological Safety: Employees need to feel physically and psychologically safe at the workplace. After all, they spend eight hours a day on average at work. An improper work environment coupled with conflicts, intimidation, or bullying often results in employee disengagement. Employees who feel safe become more open-minded, motivated, resilient, creative, confident, and persistent.[6]

  • Unrealistic expectations: An impossible workload results in stress and disengagement. Similarly, a very light workload will also result in a loss of interest. Having challenging and, at the same time, realistic expectations regarding workload and deliverables is fundamental to keeping teams motivated and engaged.

What other reasons for lack of motivation would you add? What can managers do to re-engage employees? Leave your comments below or send us an email at info@leaderessentialsgroup.comwith your thoughts and suggestions.


We hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you want to learn more, our 4-module Leadership Development Master Class for practitioners contains all the materials you'll need to strengthen your leadership skills to help you cultivate emotional connections with your employees or clients. Email us at info@leaderessentialsgroup.com to schedule a meeting to learn more about how we can partner with you to turn your leadership goals into reality! Check us out at www.leaderessentialsgroup.com to learn more!


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Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. She possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a very strong and charismatic leadership style.

_________________________________________________________________________ [1] Clark, R. E., & Saxberg, B. (2019). Reasons Good Employees Lose Their Motivation. Harvard Business Review. [2] Gallup (How to Improve Employee Engagement in the Workplace - Gallup [3] Harter, J. (2021). U.S. Employee Engagement Holds Steady in First Half of 2021. Gallup. Retrieved from U.S. Employee Engagement Holds Steady in First Half of 2021 (gallup.com) [4] Johnson, W. (2018). How to lose your best employees. Harvard Business Review. [5] Clifton, J., & Harter, J. K. (2019). It's the Manager: Gallup finds the quality of managers and team leaders is the single biggest factor in your organization's long-term success. Washington, DC, USA: Gallup Press. [6] Delizonna, L. (2017). High-performing teams need psychological safety. Here’s how to create it. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s How to Create It (hbr.org) 03/05/2021.

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