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Human Resources 12 May 2023

How to Keep Your Team Motivated - Tips and Consequences

user-img David Ozi Borg
Unmotivated Workforces
At BigWig, we recognise the importance of keeping our staff happy, healthy and motivated when they are in or out of the office. We try to give our headhunters the tools to express themselves through their work, as we believe that the motivation of your workforce is fundamental to any goals you wish to achieve as a business.

It may often seem like an uphill battle when trying to keep your staff motivated, so we thought we would share a few tips. This includes how to identify an unmotivated worker and the consequences it can cause, as well as some pointers on managing an unmotivated workforce.

How to identify an unmotivated worker:

It is not always easy to identify an unmotivated worker, as the signs can often be subtle, but we’ve collated a list that we believe covers the typical indicators of an unmotivated worker:
  • Low productivity: an unmotivated worker may struggle to complete tasks within the expected timeframe.
  • Lack of engagement: an unmotivated worker may not actively participate in meetings, group tasks or general office discussions.
  • Poor punctuality: an unmotivated worker may regularly arrive late to work or miss work without a valid reason.
  • Unprofessional attitude: an unmotivated worker may display a negative attitude towards their colleagues, the work they are completing and even their superiors.
Although these indicators often suggest that a worker is unmotivated, it is important to be aware that this is not always the case. Reasons for these actions can be complex and caused by factors external to the workplace, such as health issues or personal problems.

Before coming to any sudden decisions about an employee, it is important to find the root cause of a worker’s behaviour, which can be done by speaking directly in a safe, supportive environment, or if this isn’t possible, speaking to their colleagues, with the aim of formulating solutions to help the employee in question.

Consequence of an unmotivated worker:

The consequences of an unmotivated worker do not exist in a vacuum, it has a ripple effect through the whole business. Here are some statistics that emphasise the negative consequences of an unmotivated worker:
  • According to a survey by Gallup disengaged workers have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity and 15% lower profitability compared to engaged workers
  • A study by Dale Carnegie found that companies with engaged employees outperform their unmotivated colleagues by 202%.
  • Unmotivated workers are more likely to leave their workplace to work elsewhere. The cost of replacing an employee can be high, with estimates ranging from 50% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary.
  • Perkbox estimate that disengaged employees are costing the UK economy £340 billion per year, due to lost training and recruitment costs, sick days, low productivity and low levels of creativity and innovation. 

Tips for managing an unmotivated workforce:

1. Working as a team, as opposed to an individual.

Most of the main drivers of an unmotivated workforce can be mitigated through the increased implementation of team-based tasks, as opposed to relying on a more robust linear chain of command style delegation of work. The collaborative nature of teamwork helps foster creativity and innovation as workers can build upon their colleagues unique strengths to form more coherent and interesting ideas.

Additionally, the reliance on peers to complete tasks in a healthy teamwork environment, helps create a support network in the workplace, where colleagues approach each other relating both work-related and personal matters, meaning a level of trust otherwise unachievable in strictly individual work is reached. This collective trust can lead to a more motivated workforce, as well as simply, a more enjoyable experience for staff, as they benefit socially from a strong office rapport.

Unsurprisingly, when workers suffer through health and personal problems that we discussed may be flagged as tendencies of an unmotivated worker, they may be supported by their colleagues lending them an ear, helping them to work through their problems, as the workplace becomes a safe space for intimate discussion.

2. Different types of performance incentives.

Sometimes, the most effective way to motivate a worker isn’t to praise them or try to build a relationship with them, sometimes there is simply no better way to motivate than a performance incentive.

If you sell x amount of produce this quarter I will give you y amount of €. Although there are many different types of workers in a seemingly never-ending list of professions, there are very few who will turn up their noses at the prospect of something luxury for their performance at work. Performance incentives are mostly monetary based, such as commissions, bonuses, stock options etc, but you may also see non-monetary performance incentives, like appraisals and autonomy raises.

Condly, Clark and Stolovitch (2008) researched the difference between the different types of performance incentives and their effectiveness for performance gain. They found that performance incentives improved performance by a mean average of 22%, with monetary incentives giving a performance gain of 27%, whilst non-monetary incentives giving a lesser 13%. More interestingly though, to tie into the importance of teamwork in motivating workers, they found that there was a 48% increase in the performance of teams who were offered incentives compared with a 19% increase for individually based programs, emphasising further the benefits a sense of healthy comradery amongst colleagues can bring.

3. Changing job specifications.

Another method to help catalyse employee motivation is the changing of job specifications. Sometimes a small change in the work completed is sufficient for a worker to apply themselves to a higher degree.

There are three main approaches outlined by Ganta 2014 to help achieve this.

Firstly, job enlargement. This is the expansion of an employee’s job to involve more work in a similar field to what they are already working in. This may seem counterproductive, as you are effectively giving a worker more to complete, in similar areas that have made them unmotivated to start with. However, letting somebody complete a whole task, instead of one section of it, helps reduce repetitiveness, as well as giving their work more meaning, as they are able to fully complete a task, from its starting point, all the way to the finish line.

Secondly, job enrichment. Job enrichment can differ in its implementation depending on what the manager seeks to get out of their employee. Typically, it is the diversification of responsibility to make a role more interesting. This may mean work in adjacent departments, or picking up some of the responsibility of superiors, increasing accountability and self-belief.

Finally, job rotation is a technique where employees learn multiple different aspects of an operation, rotating between them in predetermined set periods. This is usually best suited for large manufacturing firms, where there are several specialised positions a worker can slot into.

4. Quick fixes: lack of self-efficacy and disruptive emotions.

For our final tip to motivate the unmotivated in your workforce, we thought we’d cover two causes of poor motivation that can be easily identified, once made aware too, poor self-belief and disruptive emotions.

Firstly, a lack of self-belief. When workers don’t have the confidence in their own ability to carry out a task, they may not be motivated to complete, or may even shy away from approaching the task.

Upon identifying an employee struggling with self-efficacy, the employer must seek to build their employees confidence in the workplace. This can be done at a personal one-to-one level with repeated reaffirmation of the reasons why they were originally hired, or by breaking down larger tasks into more manageable sections so that the task appears more achievable.

These sections could be tailored to become progressively more challenging for the worker, helping to positively reinforce their ability. This may ultimately lead to a more dynamic and loyal employee due to the care given by their superiors.

Secondly, disruptive emotions. This is a bit more complex to approach, due to the sensitive nature and respect for the worker struggling through the situation. When workers are dealing with strong feelings such as anxiety and grief, they understandably will struggle to find the motivation to work to their best ability. Once again, a one-to-one situation here is desirable.

The key is active listening, approaching the discussion with respect and without judgement, tentatively asking what the problem is, and if anything can be done by you to ease the situation. It is important to understand that it is completely normal if nothing is solved during that conversation, but for the worker struggling, knowing that they have the support of those in the workplace is a major step into making the workplace inclusive and approachable.

Managing an unmotivated workforce can be challenging, but it is important to identify the root causes of their behaviour and find appropriate solutions. Using teamwork and implementing different types of performance incentives are two effective ways to motivate staff, increase productivity and improve overall job satisfaction. As a business, it is important to recognise the negative consequences of an unmotivated workforce and take action to prevent these from occurring.

By keeping your employees happy, healthy, and motivated, you can help your business achieve its goals and foster a positive work environment.

David Ozi Borg

Co-Founder & COO BigWig Headhunters

» Connect with me on Linkedln

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