As a manager, you have a certain amount of responsibility towards the wellbeing and engagement of your team. For people to function to the best of their abilities, they must be supported by the business, keeping employee demotivation to a minimum.

When approaching how to deal with demotivated employees, it is important to recognise that everyone is driven by different things. Understanding what inspires each person takes commitment, supported by consistent efforts to monitor their satisfaction.

It is crucial to really listen and respond to your employees’ needs and opinions, to help them feel involved and prioritised. Recognising the warning signs of employee demotivation early, and addressing them quickly, will help people to feel content and encourage talent retention.

If you fear that one of your employees is becoming demotivated, here are a few common causes that could be at the root of the issue.

1. Lack of flexibility

All employees have the legal right to request flexible working, whether this relates to remote and hybrid working policies, contract type, or working hours. However, many people do not feel they are being given fair access to flexible working arrangements.

In the modern landscape of evolving infrastructure supported by advancing technology, this lack of flexibility can quickly lead to employee demotivation. As people see the widespread adoption of practices to fit around different employee lifestyles, responsibilities and locations, they can easily look elsewhere for roles better suited to their needs. This is a challenge that may not be within your control, but is important to recognise and work with your staff to reach a compromise.

Some professionals, such as key workers, inevitably have less flexibility, such as the ability to work from home. Watch the video below to hear more about the challenges that employers face around flexible working, with tips on how to deal with demotivated employees in this context.

2. Short-term objectives, with no career vision

In many cases, money is merely one part of an employee’s motivation. Most people also want to have clear career objectives in place, to feel that they can progress within their organisation. Career visioning can be a useful process for setting clear, long-term goals for employees. This will give them a good foundation for proactively working towards their desired outcomes, as well as those of the business.

Introduce personal development plans, if there aren’t any currently in place. This will allow employees to set achievable steps for career goals and know the direction they’re heading in with the business. Having a clear vision of what they’re aiming for, and knowing that progress is possible, will be a huge incentive for employee engagement.

3. Feeling undervalued

If an employee feels that their efforts are not being recognised or appreciated, they’ll soon begin to lack energy and commitment in their role. It’s important to celebrate people’s successes and give credit where it is due. Try to make sure that achievements are rewarded, whether it’s with a formal recognition scheme, regular progress meetings or clear opportunities for promotion.

When it comes to remote working, even the smallest acts of recognition can make a big  difference to how an employee is feeling in their role.

4. No development opportunities

Regular training and development opportunities can help to boost motivation and engagement. Most employees will value the chance to keep learning, set goals and improve their skills and knowledge. If a workplace feels stagnant, uninspired and lacking in professional development, employee demotivation can quickly follow. Obtain regular feedback from your team to see where they’d like to expand their competencies. Remote working arrangements present an opportunity for businesses to update development processes and training initiatives. 

5. Poor leadership

Effective leadership is a crucial factor in workforce motivation. If strong leadership is lacking or managers are negatively affecting the outlook of the team, employees will naturally start to feel demoralised.

Leaders must have a positive and inclusive approach to managing teams, while demonstrating confidence in the business and enthusiasm around its mission. They should be able to communicate clearly, while practising active listening. Encouraging teamwork and shared goals is important, while instilling confidence in people’s individual abilities.

If a particular team or individual is lacking motivation in your business, it may be due to poor management. It is important to let people share any worries around management in a safe, quiet space, assuring them that what they disclose will be kept confidential.

6. Conflict

Conflict in the workplace is hugely detrimental to employee performance. While healthy debate can be productive between team members in collaboration, it’s important to be aware of issues such as workplace intimidation or bullying. Some employees may feel worried about coming forward with problems relating to their colleagues. Employee surveys and clear, anonymous reporting policies can help to reveal any problem areas.

7. Unrealistic workload

It’s important to mitigate the expectations and demands being placed upon your employees. If someone feels overwhelmed by unrealistic workloads, they can soon become disillusioned and lose motivation. Equally, if an employee has a workload that’s too light or not challenging enough, they might quickly lose interest.

What’s next? 

For more advice on retaining your workforce and keeping your staff motivated this year, download our comprehensive guide ‘How to keep your star performers’.

In our Talent Retention eBook, we answer all your questions about how to keep your star performers:

  • What are the most common triggers for starting a job search?
  • What can you do to show employees that they are valued?
  • Is salary the main driver for seeking a new role?
  • When should you review employee experience and working conditions?
  • Is it possible to plan ahead for talent leaving your company?
  • How can you support employees you are making redundant?


Are you looking to hire?

Find the right candidate today.

Submit a job spec

Webinars & events

Access our free webinars and events.

Join or watch on-demand

Get in touch