Poor levels of motivation in the workplace lead to all sorts of issues. Productivity falls, you lose your best people, and you can’t create a great company culture. To confront the issue, you need to know the factors that lead to poor motivation.

Does your organisation struggle with maintaining motivation in the workplace?

If so, you’re not alone. Few people go above and beyond in their efforts at work. In fact, a CEB Global Talent Monitor highlights the scale of the problem. It found that only 19% of Australian employees make “high discretionary efforts” at work. This means that they do more than what’s asked of them. The other 81% range from making some discretionary effort to making none at all.

A lack of motivation destroys productivity and leads to a toxic culture in the workplace. A Manager must learn how to be a motivational leader in order to succeed.

But you can’t jump straight into the issue. Before you can solve a problem, you must understand its causes. This article examines eight of the factors that affect your people’s motivation in the workplace.

Motivation in the Workplace – Factor #1 – Your Company Culture

Every manager wants to create a great company culture. But it’s easier said than done. For all of the effort that you put in, it can be hard to spot the signs of a dysfunctional company.

Such signs are numerous and often fly under the radar. For example, some of your people may take an overly-aggressive approach to their work. This can lead to others feeling bullied or cajoled into doing tasks. They may also feel like nobody cares about their contributions. Both problems affect motivation levels.

Other issues include the lack of a clear vision. If your people don’t understand what they’re working towards, they lose focus. This lack of clarity also leads to motivational dips.

You’re also not out of the water if your people do understand your vision. If they don’t believe in what your organisation stands for, you’ll also see motivation dip. A clear vision does not always mean a vision that your people connect with.

Here’s the point. Your people want to have a culture that feels innovative and enjoyable. They want their work to have a purpose and they want to operate under a vision that they believe in. If you can’t provide that, you’ll always struggle with motivation in the workplace.

Motivation in the Workplace – Factor #2 – Incentives

Many managers make the mistake of thinking that money is the only incentive that somebody needs. If somebody’s getting paid, they should give their all for the job.

But that’s not the case. In fact, money is not the key motivator for 78% of your people. Most have something else that drives them, such as their love for their work or the need for recognition.

Basing incentives solely around money leads to motivational issues in the workplace. Your people want to feel appreciated by their manager for the work they do. They want to feel like they contribute to something important. Moreover, those contributions deserve recognition.

Non-monetary incentives take multiple forms. A simple “thank-you” is often enough to motivate somebody. Public recognition also works well. However, there are less obvious incentives that you can use to boost motivation. These include things like flexible working hours and the ability to work from home. Both show that you care about your people’s lives outside of work.

motivation in the workplace

Motivation in the Workplace – Factor #3 – Your Leadership Style

75% of people point to their managers as being the most stressful part of their jobs.

Stress has a major impact on motivation in the workplace. A stressed employee can’t focus on the tasks they need to complete. This leads to delays that affect others. It’s a ripple effect that results in lost time and money.

Your leadership style may be the cause of poor motivation.

There isn’t a catch-all leadership style that works in every situation. Some workplaces thrive with an authoritative manager who calls all of the shots. Others work best with a more inclusive manager who welcomes more input from their teams.

The key is that you know which leadership style works best for your team and your goals.

The wrong leadership style leads to your people not respecting you. They’ll question every decision that you make and may actively disagree with you. When people don’t believe in their managers, their motivation dips considerably.

Motivation in the Workplace – Factor #4 – Your Processes

Every organisation relies on processes to operate. You’ll have processes in place for the way that you assign work, create incentives, and distribute resources. Your organisation also has processes for disciplinary concerns and for responding to issues.

Each of these processes has the potential to derail a high-performing team’s motivation levels.

It all comes down to fairness. The moment your people think a process isn’t fair is the moment that they disengage from that process.

Take the processes that you use to assign work. One employee may feel that they’re taking on more work than they should. Another may feel as though they’re not entrusted with enough responsibility. Both sides struggle with motivation because they feel that the process isn’t fair.

Disciplinary processes offer another good example of a double-edged process sword. On one hand, being too strict leads to people feeling afraid to make even the smallest mistake. On the other, a poor disciplinary process leads to company culture problems. Toxic behaviour goes unpunished, which affects the rest of the team.

Poor processes have a far-reaching effect that you may not recognise until productivity falls.

Motivation in the Workplace – Factor #5 – Internal Relationships

It’s not just the relationship that you have with your people that you need to worry about. Your people’s relationships with one another also affect motivation.

Simply put, if your people don’t like each other, you can’t create a high-performing team.

Conflicts occur constantly in teams. People may disagree about the best way to move forward on a project. Or, some of your people may not gel with the culture that your organisation creates.

Resolving such issues is the key to creating strong relationships. When it comes to ideas, ensure that everybody has a voice when you’re planning a project. Use brainstorming sessions to bring people together and create a direction that the team agrees on.

When it comes to the bonds between teammates, focus on sharing time together outside of work. A group meal gives your people the chance to take their work hats off and learn about each other. This may help to create the sorts of bonds that improve motivation in the workplace.

Here’s the point. A disconnected team is a demotivated team. If your people don’t care about each other, you can’t expect them to pull together for the sake of a project.

motivation in the workplace

Motivation in the Workplace – Factor #6 – Personal Lives

There are some motivational factors that are outside of your control. If an employee has issues with their personal life, there’s only so much that you can do to help.

Unfortunately, such issues often play a huge role in employee motivation. Major personal issues, such as the end of a relationship or a traumatic incident, drain motivation quickly. Naturally, your employee’s mind will be on things other than their work.

In some cases, you may have the personal relationship needed to discuss such issues with your people. But many people don’t feel comfortable discussing their problems in a work environment.

This means taking indirect measures often works best. For example, offering flexible working hours allows your people to deal with whatever’s happening at home. They can leave the office as needed with the understanding that they can complete their work later.

A little compassion goes a long way toward helping your people deal with the personal issues that affect motivation. You show that you care and give them the time needed to focus on the problem.

Motivation in the Workplace – Factor #7 – Development Opportunities

Stagnation is the enemy in every aspect of business. A stagnant company can’t compete with those that innovate. They lose their clients and eventually close down.

But stagnation affects more than the services that your organisation provides. It also affects your people. Those in stagnant work environments don’t feel motivated to give their all at work. They just clock in, do what they have to do, and clock out. They have no sense of professional progression, so they feel no need to work harder.

This makes the developmental opportunities that you offer a key motivator. Employing effective employee development methods helps you to get more out of your people. It also shows them that you want them to get better. You’re giving them the tools that they need to progress professionally. More often than not, they’ll feel motivated to reward you with better results.

Don’t operate an organisation that offers no opportunities for your people. This leads to stagnation, which drastically affects motivation levels.

Motivation in the Workplace – Factor #8 – Employee Goals

This final factor links with several of the previous factors.

Each of your employees has goals that they aim to achieve under the banner of your organisation. These goals differ depending on the person. Some may want to move up the ranks in the organisation. Others may have specific goals relating to departments that they’re a part of.

Yet others may struggle to outline their goals. These are the people who are most at risk of declines in motivation. Without a goal to shoot for, their work becomes disorganised. Such people may also feel like they’re not contributing or moving forward.

This means that managers have a two-fold job when it comes to employee goals. Firstly, they must help employees to determine their goals. This usually involves one-to-one meetings and in-depth discussions. After that, they need to outline ways for the employee to reach those goals.

A lack of goals leads to your people disengaging from the organisation.

Improving Motivation in the Workplace

As you can see, improving motivation is not a simple task. There are all sorts of factors that may affect your people’s motivation levels. Failing to address these factors leads to the creation of a bad culture that doesn’t get results.

Great Managers can help you to confront each of these factors.

In the Great Managers Academy, you’ll learn how to do the following:

  • Help employees set and reach their goals.
  • Create rewarding employee development programs.
  • Leverage both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators effectively.
  • Confront the issues that lead to declining motivation levels.

Remember that a Great Manager can DOUBLE the capacity of their people.

Register for our next free webinar to learn more about how you can use these motivational factors to get better results.