What demotivates employees?


Behind every unsuccessful organization is an equally demotivated workforce. The success of every organization depends on a dedicated workforce. Organizations spend a lot of time and resources in an effort to motivate their employees, and yet in majority of cases, there are no positive results. Perhaps it is time these resources were directed towards the removal of dissatisfiers in the workplace and also at creating an enabling environment for employees to fulfil their personal goals.

Unfulfilled goals can be likened to an air lock in a water pipe, which prevents water from flowing. The same case applies to human beings unfulfilled goals which lock the energies of enthusiasm, initiative, creativity and innovation; preventing them from flowing.

Much of employees’ dissatisfaction stems from the fact that there may be inherent dissatisfiers in the job. In an effort to route them out, management should take measures to create a good organisational climate, environment and culture that foster job satisfaction of employees.

In order to address this problem effectively, management needs to examine the following areas:-

Job enrinchment

Studies have shown that employees are de-motivated by jobs that lack interest and challenge. Repeated performance of a task over time may begin to bore. As such, the enthusiasm begins to fade. This is one of the reasons behind the concept of job enrichment where management embarks on redesigning the jobs to make them more interesting. For example, employees may be re-assigned tasks that are usually done by those at positions of higher or lower responsibilities. This broadens the employees’ experience, making the job not only interesting but also challenging.

Management style

The management style of the organization can also be a de-motivating factor. Where the dominant style is autocratic, employees become demoralised by the manager’s ‘do it my way’ approach. Participating leadership on the other hand motivates employees. Here, the management delegates authority to employees thus allowing them to reign free, make decisions and take responsibility for their actions. This develops in them a feeling of ownership of the decision which in itself is a motivator. The feeling is quite fulfilling as it is an intrinsic reward.

Punitive company policies

Poor company policies could also lead to the dissatisfaction of employees in the workplace. Managers should be certain that the human resources (HR) policies and procedures are non-punitive and that they are administered fairly. Take for example reward policies. These should lay emphasis on compensating employees fairly. The employees who perceive their pay as inequitable are bound to feel demoralised. Equal opportunities for employment, promotion and diversity policies among others, if fairly and well formulated, will increase employees’ level of motivation.


Without any challenging goals to be achieved, employees lose their motivation. The need for achievement is a strong driving force in employees’ behaviour. Easily achievable goals or targets do not generate enthusiasm or increased effort by the worker.

The sense of achievement is an intrinsic reward that is quite fulfilling and nobody can give it to us, except ourselves. However, management can create avenues that can be used to help employees fulfil this need.

It is therefore desirable for managers to set challenging goals or targets for their employees. These should be achieved with very minimal interference from manager. If the manager interferes a lot in the performance of the task, the effect is that the employees takes no pride in the results, and therefore does not experience any sense of achievement.


Why thank people for doing the job they are paid to do?

The nature of human beings is such that they desire recognition for their achievements. Unfortunately, for a job well done, it is usually the manager who takes all the credit. This demotivates employees who may have contributed a lot to the achievement. It is likely to make them complacent, and reluctant to put more effort in future tasks. Managers should recognise the good performance and productivity of employees, and credit them for their efforts. In the name same way that one is quick to criticise a job poorly done, one should also be quick to give compliments for a job well done. All it might take is a pat on the back, verbal thank you or a big gesture such as achievement or recognition awards, a promotion, bonuses, a pay rise…the list is endless.

Career growth and development

What’s the point in trying?

This is the farthest I can reach.

A good number of employees will tell you that they are demoralised by lack of a career path. Many may feel like they have reached the ‘dead end’ of their career within their organisation. There is therefore need to design career paths where training and development policies are formulated to ensure the provision of training and educational opportunities. These will in turn advance employees’ career and personal development.


Do I really belong here?

Poor interpersonal relations at work can kill the morale of the worker. Employees seek good interpersonal relations between themselves and supervisors. The organisation should establish an environment that promotes the feeling of camaraderie at work. The manager can organise employees into teams where appropriate, to work on certain tasks. Teams are in themselves motivators for they instil into their members a feeling of belongingness. It’s also important to identify those employees with a strong drive for affiliations and assign them positions that will fulfil this need in areas such as customer care, marketing, sales, social work and human resources.


Employees perform better in environments that foster job security. Some employees do not offer employment contracts and this creates uncertainty among the employees. The right practice is to offer employees security of tenure, if they are to be expected to exert efforts in their performance.



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