Have you been in a situation where your team which was once super-productive, dynamic, creative, and full of energy suddenly seems to be completely drained out?
They probably look like zombies with absolutely no energy levels, missing deadlines, making mistakes that they otherwise would never make, trying hard to push through the day.
If this seems familiar to you, then it’s probably because your employee’s – or team's morale or motivation in the workplace is running low. These are the major signs of employee demotivation.
Workplace morale or team morale is nothing but a complex mix of perceptions, emotions, and attitudes that employees hold towards their work and their workplace.
What are the causes of employee demotivation?
Employee morale, unquestionably, is one of the most vital but most difficult things to manage in a company.
Consistent low morale can be a serious concern for your organization, as unhappy employees lead to higher turnover, poor customer service, and lower productivity.
Therefore, understanding what are the possible factors that are causing low staff morale or low employee motivation can help to fight the challenge head-on.
Here are some of the most common factors that demotivate employees::
1. Lack of professional/personal development
Employees are constantly looking for opportunities to grow in their current role and to be challenged in new ways, with new projects/tasks, etc.
When employees fail to see how their career path is going to progress within the organization, or how they can develop their professional skills while doing what they are doing, it can be extremely dissatisfying.
When workers believe they lack the capacity to carry out a task, they won’t be motivated to do it.
2. Lack of clarity
Nothing demotivates employees/pull the morale down like a lack of clarity. When employees don’t know what is expected out of them or what the organizational objectives are, they end up spending days (sometimes weeks) doing the same task -without any concrete results.
This not only hinders employees from performing to the best of their ability but also demotivates and disengages them. When a task doesn’t connect with or contribute to something workers value, they won’t be motivated to do it.
3. Job Insecurity
Employees who work for unstable companies or in jobs that are insecure will only invest enough to keep getting their paycheck while they look elsewhere. The rest of their energy will be spent sharing rumors with co-workers, updating their resumes, and planning their next move.
The best you can do is to communicate frequently and give your team a sense of loyalty and trust. You should figure out why employees are feeling about job security and mitigate those reasons. High attrition rates can lead to cascading morale issues across the organization.
4. Lack of communication
Lack of communication is one of the most challenging employee demotivation factors. Change can be overwhelming and difficult to cope with.
Be it change in leadership, work environment, team structure, etc., or a sudden switch to working from home (in a situation like that of the most recent COVID-19 pandemic), change can be extremely challenging.
When this is accompanied by a lack of communication, it only leads to further confusion, ambiguity, and decreased engagement.
5. Lack of workplace flexibility
While most of your employees understand that workloads can go up and down, requiring a member of your staff to keep up with unreasonable workload for long periods of time can result in burnout and resentment.
Also if your company policies are so stringent that it's making the work more complex and tough for your employees rather than helping them succeed at work, then such policies do more harm than good.
If the work stress and burnout lead to health issues with employees, it'll definitely lead to employee demotivation.
6. Feeling invisible in the workplace
People want to be appreciated for their efforts and dedication. When managers fail to recognize the hard work and dedication of their employees, it often leads to employees feeling invisible within the organization – further leading to loss of self-esteem, low employee morale, and disengagement.
7. Failing to address company mission, vision & values.
If there are consistent issues around some policies related to a department or gender or location and such issues are not being addressed, then there are high chances that employees will start getting demotivated to work with the company.
They feel insecure and start having lower confidence in the management. These issues can be related to any public misinformation, any firing, any gender bias, sexual harassment, race bias, and so on.
If the company is not investigating or acting on a matter of grave misconduct, then employee morale can go wrong.
8. Lack of trust or micromanagement
Managers often tend to get into micromanagement of their team members’ work when they don’t trust them enough.
They tend to get involved in every step of the project execution, telling their employees what to do, how to do it, and at times sitting with them to get it done their way.
It’s frustrating, demoralizing, and demotivating. People expect a certain level of freedom and authority to make their own decisions within the limitations of their job roles.
While salary does not factor as high as some people might guess when it comes to affecting employee motivation levels, it still needs to be reasonable and competitive.
We suggest that managers can do more to diagnose the causes of employee demotivation. When motivation goes off the rails, identifying exactly which trap has ensnared your employees — and applying just the right targeted intervention — can get things moving again.