Why do people lose motivation for their work and how can such employees be managed?

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No matter how rewarding the work or how happy the workplace, employees will move through times of discontent. Sometimes people lose motivation for simple reasons that are out of the control of the employer, such as consuming personal situations, but there are other instances that employers could engage employees.

It is important that company leaders recognise when valued staff are losing motivation. The cost of retaining well-trained and knowledgeable employees is far less than recruiting new team members, especially in specialised roles.

People can lose motivation for their work due to various reasons. Understanding those reasons can help employers engage with employees who might need something to spark their motivation and return to their productive ways.

Lack of Recognition or Reward

When employees feel that their efforts are not recognized or rewarded adequately, they may become demotivated and disengaged from their work. It is important to tell people that they have done a good job, and it is important people are remunerated well. However, simply paying people well does not let people know that they are valued; you need to also verbalise your appreciation. This goes both ways, you must also pay people well and not expect that a thank you is enough to retain highly qualified employees. Find the balance and give your employees verbal and financial rewards.

Limited Growth Opportunities

If employees perceive limited opportunities for career advancement, skill development, or personal growth within the organization, they may lose motivation to perform at their best. It is important to offer employees a career map. Even in small organizations that might not have growth opportunities, you can provide space for trusted employees to oversee their own work and develop their skills, which can build confidence.

Poor Work-Life Balance

Excessive workload, long hours, or a lack of flexibility can lead to burnout and diminish motivation among employees. You need to encourage employees to take time for holidays, give them breaks and provide people with the time they need when personal circumstances might distract people, such as grief, illness or even changing family situations. Valued employees will return to work more motivated and energized when they feel understood and accepted as human.

Unclear Expectations or Goals

When employees are unsure about what is expected of them or how their work contributes to the overall goals of the organization, they may feel disoriented and lose motivation. Employees should understand their responsibilities, daily tasks and responsibilities, and the overall contribution they are making to the organization.

Toxic Work Environment

A negative or toxic work environment characterized by conflicts, micromanagement, or lack of trust can significantly impact employees’ motivation and morale.


Managing employees who have lost motivation requires a proactive and empathetic approach.

Open Communication

Encourage open and honest communication with employees to understand their concerns, frustrations, and sources of demotivation. Actively listen to their feedback and address any issues or obstacles they may be facing.

Provide Recognition and Rewards

Recognize and appreciate employees’ contributions and achievements regularly. Implement reward systems, such as bonuses, incentives, or employee recognition programs, to reinforce positive behaviors and motivate performance.

Offer Growth Opportunities

Provide opportunities for employees to grow and develop their skills through training, workshops, mentorship programs, or opportunities for advancement within the organization. Show them a clear career path and support their professional development goals.

Promote Work-Life Balance

Foster a culture that values work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements, promoting time off, and discouraging overtime or burnout. Encourage employees to prioritize their well-being and create a supportive environment where they feel empowered to manage their workload effectively.

Set Clear Expectations and Goals

Ensure that employees understand their roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations. Set clear, achievable goals that are aligned with the organization’s objectives and provide regular feedback on their progress.

Foster a Positive Work Environment

Cultivate a positive and supportive work environment characterized by trust, collaboration, and respect. Address any toxic behaviors or conflicts promptly and promote a culture of inclusivity and psychological safety.

Lead by Example

Demonstrate enthusiasm, passion, and dedication to your work as a leader. Lead by example and inspire your team members to stay motivated and engaged through your actions and words.

By addressing the underlying causes of demotivation and implementing effective management strategies, leaders can help re-engage and empower their employees to perform at their best and contribute positively to the organization.

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