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10 Ways to Motivate the Unmotivated Employee

The worst thing that can happen to an organization is to have unmotivated employees. It can impact an organization’s customer base, service, and profitability. That is why companies infuse a lot of resources to ensure that they keep their associate-base engaged and motivated. Find out more on this note via this piece.

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The worst thing that can happen to an organization is to have unmotivated employees. It can impact an organization’s customer base, service, and profitability. That is why companies infuse a lot of resources to ensure that they keep their associate-base engaged and motivated. Unfortunately, it is easy for employees to get dissatisfied and demotivated at work. Even the motivated can lose their enthusiasm over time. Ensuring an organization has a motivated workforce represents one of the critical roles of the Human Resources (HR) department in any organization. That is why the compensation and benefits unit must work tirelessly to ensure that employees’ reward is commensurate with performance. The HR team can create a positive impact by fostering an atmosphere of engagement in the organization, appreciating and praising its employee base, inspiring the leadership, transparency and honest information sharing, responsive to associate needs, recognition and incentivizing associates, etc.

Various factors can cause an employee’s enthusiasm for work to wane. These factors could be boredom, micromanagement, lack of confidence in management decisions, feeling under-appreciated, lack of career progression, poor psychological safety, overwork, lack of work, impartial decisions of leadership, etc. These factors can make an employee distant and unproductive. This attitude could also affect their performance assessment, overall team performance, and the general atmosphere of the organization. Beyond these factors, an organization’s relationship with its customers could also take a severe hit. Indolent and unhappy employees usually do their job of attending to customers with a low sense of urgency. These employees have bad attitudes and deliver poor customer service. When customers have an unsatisfactory experience, they will most likely not return to that organization for further business transactions. Many times, they end up taking their business elsewhere. Every organization wants its customers to have a good experience and return for more business. When customers take their business elsewhere, it erodes the confidence that they have in your organization. Therefore, unmotivated employees must be addressed and not taken for granted before its adverse effect spills over into other crucial arms of the organization that could impact return on investment (ROI).

Poor Customer Service

As an employer who wants maximum productivity, you must prioritize the needs of your employees and cater to them. Happy and motivated employees will go the extra mile when working, and you will see this in the effort they put into the work they are doing. The goal of every employer is to ensure that its employee base is effective and efficient while reducing variations during work. These employees usually have buy-in into the goal and vision statement of their organization. Companies that exhibit foresight pay attention to their employee always. Because of this caring attention, these organizations can recognize the telltale signs of a demotivated employee or group of employees. Seeing this demotivation and unhappiness red flags can help the organizational leaders create the right strategy to address the situation. This becomes very crucial, especially if the organization has more than one unmotivated employee. The company then moves to adopt an approach as a measure to help re-energize and boost their passion and enthusiasm towards achieving the all-encompassing goals of the organization.

10 Ways to Motivate the Unmotivated Employee

In the next paragraphs that follow, we will be reviewing ten possible tips that organizations can use to reinvigorate the unmotivated employee. Of course, these tips are not exhaustive; there may be other tips not included here. However, for now, let it suffice the reader to review the ones below.

First, give them an enabling environment and provide them with enough tools for the trade. Just a change of scenery to a more uplifting or calming vibe could do the trick for some people. Find out if your workers are satisfied with the décor and their current office spaces. Sometimes you may have to repaint the workplace with soothing or vibrant colors, get brand new furniture, or decorate the office with some new gadgets (e.g., a new coffee machine, new water dispenser, new relaxation gadgets, etc.). If the workplace does not have a break room or kitchenette, that may be a worthy investment that could lift the employees’ spirits. If the facility does not have some snack vending machines in its cafeteria, that could also be a worthy investment. Re-design your organization’s workplace. Make it fun. The leadership can always poll and find out from the associates what they would need to make their work a little less stressful and more enjoyable. Sometimes, it could even be that the employees don’t have enough tools for the trade. It can get very frustrating when employees don’t have all the adequate tools to perform their jobs. To stay motivated, they need to have all the tools of the profession in other for them to stay effective and efficient. Ask for their input concerning the change they would like to see in their workplace ambiance and the tools they may lack. Reinvent the workspace with them. Provide the tools they need to work. Make it a fun experience.

Second, two words—positive reinforcement. Don’t forget to remind your workers that they are doing a good job. Praise them for their achievements. Many organizations lack this quality. Many leadership in many organizations are always quick to highlight everything that the associates are doing wrong. It is one reprimand after the other. Don’t get me wrong; every organization needs to pursue excellence. No organization wants to be mediocre. Every organization wants to excel in service to their customers. Every organization wants to be profitable and will move to eschew all variances that impede their progress towards their goals and objectives. However, there is a time for cautioning associates, and there should also be a time for praising associates for a job well done. Appreciate your employees when they do a good job. Voltaire once said that “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” As much as we appreciate our employees, we must not be patronizing. However, a good ovation is what they need. Always say thank you for a job well done. Be appreciative.

Employee with smiling face for her success and good—Positive reinforcement at work

Third, is promotions. Apart from the verbal acknowledgment of your employees’ work outcomes, find ways to reward them for a well-done job. One way of rewarding hard-working employees is through promotions. Let them feel like their work is taking them somewhere in the company. The worst thing you can ever do to an employee doing well is to pigeonhole them in a position and barring them from promoting to the next level. Unfortunately, some organizations do this. If they see that the employee is performing exceptionally well in a position, they hesitate in promoting them. Sometimes, because they may not be able to fill that employee’s role with someone as good as them. Hence, the employee suffers due to the selfish motives of leadership. A lot of times, this discourages the employee, up to the point that they become demotivated. In many instances, this can hurt their productivity and could eventually end up leaving the organization entirely. If they are doing a good job and you evaluate them and believe that they are ready to transition to the next level, do well to promote them to a role that suits their potentials. Advancing your hard and smart working employees will let them know that there is always room for growth for them within the system.

Fourth, incentivize them with other rewards. You can find other reward systems should you run out of positions for promotion. Find ways to show your employees that you recognize their hard and smart work in the organization. For instance, you can develop reward programs. You can establish an employee of the month reward program, an employee of the year reward program, top performer awards, safety awards, etc. These are great motivation awards that can spur and motivate employees to want to do more. You can incentivize associates by organizing monthly employee barbecue events for hitting monthly milestones and set goals in various areas of your organizational network. You can incentivize associates by giving them organizational freebies (e.g., tee shirts, water bottles, backpacks, gift cards, etc.) for performing extraordinarily well or being exceptionally safe while working. You can institute a quarterly or yearly bonus for employees that is based on performance. These rewards and more are great motivators for workers in a competitive environment. It keeps employees on their feet, always wanting to excel in becoming recipients of such rewards and awards. Find creative ways to compensate your employees for their exceptional work.

Recognition is a key to motivation

Fifth, remuneration. This is a tough one. A lot of organizations wrestle with the issue of pay and compensation. For hourly workers, many companies compete with their competitors when it comes to the starting hourly wage for their employees. When associates are well paid to deliver a service, they will more likely show more commitment to the organization. A company with its base hourly wage significantly higher than the federal base pay rate will have employees who show more dedication and buy-in than associates in another company that pays its employees the minimum base-pay hourly wage. The same goes for salaried workers and those in the management cadre. Higher wage remuneration can serve to motivate the unmotivated employee at any level – salaried or non-salaried positions. However, it is essential to know if this is what is holding your employees back. Do your research and find out what similar professions at other firms are earning. You can also run an anonymous survey at your firm to see what your employees think of their current salaries. Adjust if need be.

Sixth, hire new talent. Bring in new blood into the mix to spice up the efforts of the team. Sometimes employees can get stuck in a rut because the same people surround them always. Bringing new talent into your organization means an opportunity to get a brand-new perspective into the realm of your business operation. It is an opportunity to improve the expertise and skill base of your organization. Newcomers can induce competition and a flow of fresh ideas in the firm. Fresh pair(s) of eyes could see the variation causing the lack of motivation and enthusiasm in the organization. This gives the leadership team a chance to strategize and fix the problems before it gets out of hand. New talent can help motivate other unmotivated employees. New hires, on many occasions, come in hungry to innovate and bring about change. They can spread their passion and, in turn, stimulate the indifferent employee, bringing about the needed organizational change. Weigh your options, understand the times, and know when to bring new talent into the fold.

Bring new blood into your organization

Seventh, bring in new projects. Working on the same projects, duties, tasks, assignments year-in-year-out can become monotonous. The same cyclical routine can de-motivate employees in an organization. There are times that organizational leadership needs to break the monotonous pattern by infusing new projects into the institutional mix. A new challenge can cause employees to harness their skills in different ways and directions. Bringing in new projects can challenge the minds of unmotivated associates and spur them to think outside the box. Embracing a new project that your organization can work on opens innovation channels for your company. This will help infuse a new level of engagement and excitement in the organization. It can be invigorating for employees to have something new to focus their energies on rather than dwell on the job’s monotony. Weigh the situation in your organization. As a strategic methodology, is it time to throw a new project into the pipeline to motivate the demotivated employees? You decide. If yes, act on it creatively with some sense of urgency.

Eight, be fair. One factor that can cause demotivation for some workers can be noticing biased behavior towards other workers. Working in organizations that do not embrace fairness can be very frustrating. In such organizations, the rule does not apply to everyone, and as a result, can demotivate employees. Organizations and their leadership need to create a just atmosphere that is free of impartiality. A Stanislaw Jerzy Lec once said that “Impartiality is not neutrality. It is partiality for justice.” Being impartial forms the foundation of justice. It creates a climate of fairness, an ambiance that is free from bias or tainted justice. Have you ever asked yourself why Femida, Lady Justice, wears a blindfold? The blindfold she wears represents impartiality, the model that the application of the law should be without regard to wealth, power, or any other status. Be like Femida in your organization. Be fair and remain impartial in how you treat all your employees irrespective of gender, color, or creed. Impartiality will destroy the motivational foundation of employees. Be impartial and see your employees flourish. Be fair. Never discriminate.

Femida, Goddess of Justice, with scales and sword wearing blindfold against dramatic stormy sky. Be fair.

Ninth, let them take a break. The famous saying goes, “All work and no play make Jack and Jill a dull/gray boy and girl.” During the workday, ensure that you are giving your employees a break. Work breaks give employees some time to break away from the hustle-and-bustle of the day. Some organizations are so strict in their break time allotment, while some others may be a little bit too generous with the amount of time they give for breaks. Employees in the former type of organization barely have enough time to get an ample breather in the time allotted for work breaks. This can really demotivate employees, to say the very least; they begin to grumble and complain and eventually become disgruntled. In the latter organization, giving too much time can also be detrimental as it can cause employees to start slacking off. There should be a harmonious balance. Organizations should ensure that they have not been too stingy with handing out vacation times. Everyone needs a break to get refreshed and ready to work again. You can be different by creating a unique vacation plan for your employees.

Tenth, communicate with your employees regularly. Organizational leaders should find a way to establish a friendly rapport with their employees. Building this communication bond will make it easy for them to discuss what they feel about the workplace. There should be an open gateway policy that allows employees to gain easy access to their leadership to share ideas, discuss concerns, or make requests, or discuss matters arising in the organization. Having a closed-door policy can lead to the dissolution of the trust that employees have in their leadership. Organizations with inaccessible leadership can quickly become a cesspool of bitter, acrimonious emotions that can quickly translate to an atmosphere of under-motivated employees. An open-door policy shows employees that their leadership cares about them enough to listen to their concerns. This can be beneficial. For instance, you might be able to find out what they need and act quickly to address any ensuing variations before they go out of hand. This gives the employees a certain level of confidence. Let them feel the system would always look after them.

Does your organization observe the Open Door Policy? You tell me.

Therefore, strive to create a positive work environment where everyone wants to be. This positive energy can bring better results over time. Employees will flourish in an atmosphere where they feel they have some sense of emotional security. No worker wants to work in a work environment that is unfriendly. No one wants to be part of a work culture that does not care about their physical, health, and emotional wellbeing. Everyone yearns for more work inclusivity; no one wants to be under the “other” shroud. Everyone wants a sense of genuine belonging. Contrary work environments quickly become a bog of bitterness. Employees in this work environment eventually lose their drive to want to work hard or be part of the organizational vision. Productivity and profitability in such work ambiances will ultimately suffer. Hence, organizational leadership should do everything in their power to maintain a harmonious all-inclusive environment. Strive to keep your employees motivated and happy. Happy employees make for higher productivity and profit.

In this post, we have looked at ten things organizations can do to motivate disengaged employees. First, give them an enabling environment and provide them with enough tools for the trade. A new and energetic ambiance can stimulate workplace motivation. Make sure that associates have enough tools of the trade for them to do their jobs with. It can get frustrating when employees don’t have enough tools to make them successful. Second, deploy positive reinforcement. Appreciate your employees when they are doing well. Offer words of encouragement often. They should not always hear reprimands; praise them for a job well done. Encourage and inspire them often. Third, promote your employees who are doing well. This gives them hope that they have a future with the organization. Do not pigeonhole them in a role selfishly. Allow them to blossom. Fourth, incentivize them with other rewards. Be creative, find unique motivators to use, and inspire your employees. The fifth point is remuneration. Sometimes, it may be all about the Benjamins talking. When people apply for jobs, the paramount incentive that motivates them to want to work for organizations is usually the financial incentives and benefits attached to the position. Pay your employees well—it will go a long way to propel them towards a higher level of commitment.

Build a happy team and build your organization on a formidable foundation

Sixth, hire new talent. Sometimes, you might need some new blood to motivate the unmotivated older employees in the organization. The right new hires can be equivalent to fresh energy, new creativity, or innovation. Seventh, initiate new projects. Break the monotony of old routines and designs by infusing a new one. It can stimulate excitement within the organization. Eight, be fair or impartial. Ensure that you are impartial in the way you treat all the employees of your organization. Always remember the blindfold of Femida, the Lady Justice. Treat everyone equally. Do your best to eschew any form of favoritism that could remove the blindfold of fairness and equitable justice. Ninth, give your employees a break. Be sure to provide them a moderate in-shift break. Give them time to unwind by giving them some vacation time too. Tenth, communicate with your employees regularly. Don’t be the boss that makes himself or herself inaccessible to their employees. Remember the open-door policy. By implementing these ten points, you stand the chance of reviving the motivational levels of employees in your organization.

Finally, for more productive and sustained success in your organization, it is crucial to offer inspiration to all your employees by sharing the long and short-term vision you have for growth. Get them to have buy-in into the organization’s vision. Make them a part of this vision. Ensure that they understand where the company was in previous times, where the company is currently at present, and where the company plans to be in the future. Let them know their part in making this vision possible. Let them know the long-term impact of their daily work contributions. This show of care might make a whole world of difference to them when an employee feels needed, appreciated, and a part of a much bigger dream. Motivate your employees often, and they will stay motivated. Remember, a happy, smart, and hardworking associate will translate to better productivity and profitability.

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Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze is an entrepreneur and the Founder, CEO, Editor-In-Chief of Oaekpost, LLC, a U.S.-based online media company and the parent organization of He is a multi-niche writer with a wide range of interests in various genres. Agom-Eze is based in the Greater Seattle Area, Washington, and can be reached at

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