There are many reasons why employees lose their motivation for doing their jobs well. Burnout as a result of a poor work-life balance may be one reason, lack of feedback or recognition from management may be another. Unclear and constantly-shifting goals and strategies will also destroy employee motivation gradually over time, which is understandable. It’s hard to aim at a constantly-moving target. It’s not possible to continually start over, reorganize and restructure, working toward yet a new goal that management has suddenly decided to prioritize, and retain motivation. Change is fine and necessary in workplaces, just not continual change. Harassment and bullying in the workplace also contribute to loss of employee motivation, especially if they are allowed to continue once reported. All of these are important reasons for why many employees simply give up and stop trying or stop caring. Many of these employees should probably quit and find other jobs, but if you’ve been treated poorly over the course of many years, your self-confidence may not be at an optimal level, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll do well in an interview for a new job. Additionally, many employees need their jobs for economic reasons and cannot just quit.
When employees are treated poorly by management or ignored by management, employees will lose their motivation. They will slow down, be less effective, produce less, and complain more. If they don’t complain, they will find other ways to undermine what they perceive to be a system that is completely indifferent to them or that rarely listens to them. They will say that ‘they could care less’, but in truth, they do care, and wise leaders will recognize this and do something about it.
Leaders make all the difference, and they should remember that. In all my years in the workforce, I have yet to meet employees who are motivated solely by money. Most employees are inspired by leaders who know what they want and know how to impart that message to their employees. Most employees want to know that their work counts and that it is important to the company. They want to hear that they’ve done a good job when they’ve done a good job; they want to be seen and they want their hard work to be acknowledged. Many leaders seem unable to do this. They have difficulty praising employees for a job well-done. They have difficulty offering constructive criticism, whereas most employees understand the need for constructive criticism when necessary. It’s how you learn, grow, and progress professionally.
It’s possible to regain motivation for one’s work, even after many years of minimal motivation. A change of leadership may do the trick. A wise leader takes over for one who was clueless, ineffective, or unprofessional in tone and behavior. A wise leader meets with his or her employees, takes the time to talk to them about their work and how they feel about their jobs, discovers the strengths in his or her employees, and builds on those strengths. When employees feel that they’ve been listened to and then given new tasks that match their strengths and abilities, they regain their motivation. It may be a slow process, but what’s important is that those employees are once again effective and productive employees.