Killing Employee Motivation – Are you Guilty?

“A happy workforce is more engaged, creative and more focused, increasing the overall productivity of a company.” – Tim Smedley

All those working in or running a company know the value and truth of this quote. Each employee can be either a contributor to or detractor from the happiness and productivity of the company. No study that has indicated the opposite and it would probably be impossible to find someone who believes that killing employee motivation will work for a company. Some of the best and biggest companies also have the honour of being the best employers and the best talent in the market make every effort to work at these companies. These companies have earned this reputation because they pay special attention on their human resources and do everything they can to ensure that their employees are motivated and driven. These companies truly care and understand their employees resulting in each workday being enjoyable and people actually look forward to the start of the next day at work.

Killing employee motivation results in unhappiness and stress and is one of major reasons of drastic dips in productivity, work quality and the quality of customer service. The losses from killing employee motivation, according to a study, are upwards of $300 billion due to lowered productivity. It is a well-known fact that attracting, hiring, training and retaining good talent is a highly cumbersome, exhausting and costly process and if your company is losing employees regularly, it could be doing many things that are killing employee motivation.

Skimping on salaries and not paying employees what they are worth because of their experience, skill sets and knowledge. It is no secret that compensation and benefits are the top motivators for anyone. Everyone is working to get a salary that is worth their while and even if this is not the only motivator, it certainly tops the list. You would be killing employee motivation if your company’s pay structure is below industry standards and or some employees are earning a lot below their actual worth and potential. These employees would be reluctant to do more than the bare minimum and eventually decide to leave, putting your company back into the hiring and training loop.

One of the other top ways to killing employee motivation is not allowing them room for errors and trial. People only learn when they get down to doing things. In this process, mistakes would be inevitable. If every mistake attracts a penalty, they would much rather stick to their core jobs and never venture to be creative and innovative. Instead, allow them freedom and empower them to make everyday decisions and take ownership for those decisions. Constantly trying to prove themselves and being ashamed to admit mistakes for fear of retribution and ridicule, is enough to demotivate employees.

Companies are killing employee motivation by demanding productivity but not providing a workplace that is conducive to it. Dull, cramped, poorly lit and shabby office spaces speak volumes of negativity and are a clear indicator of how little effort a company puts towards ensuring a happy workforce. The organizations that allow employees to personalize their workspaces, provide enough storage space, and have bright and well-lit offices contribute significantly towards a happier workforce.  These things may seem insignificant but hold a lot of value and their absence would most certainly be reasons for killing employee motivation. A friend left a rather ‘reputed’ organisation because there was no energy and the people that worked there preferred a darkened office. No one opened the sunshades or allowed anyone else to do so, because “the sunlight was a bother”!  It is hard to imagine such stupidity!

A company hires people because of their intelligence and knowledge and based on their willingness to grow. However, when they do join, these employees do not get sufficient opportunities for professional or personal development. Without growth and development, a person becomes dull and a feeling of being useless sets in. With no investment in their career, killing employee motivation would be a breeze! Does this look like your company?

Poor leadership and a lack of vision cause confusion in employees and leave them feeling directionless. It is a well-known business fact employees look up to and emulate their leaders. Poor leaders who are unable to communicate the company’s vision harm the work environment and a major contributor towards employee disillusionment and demotivation.

Treat your employees like puppets or mindless individuals if your company is aiming to killing employee motivation. Do not empower them by delegating some important tasks to them and keep them out of all company communication. This behaviour will ensure that your company creates an environment of stress, conflict and distrust and is a sure shot way of killing employee motivation.  Companies that value their employees and desire to motivate them will communicate clearly and consistently with them. Employee feedback and opinion will be critical for any business decisions and strategies and the result would be a highly driven and energized workforce.

Another step towards killing employee motivation is for direct managers to not keep their promise or do what they say that they would. With such a manager, an employee finds it hard to trust and depend on the person who should ideally be there for all. In the business scenario, a saying is that employees do not leave companies – they leave managers. Unless managers receive coaching and training to lead people with trust and respect, you can be certain that your company will always have demotivated employees and the resultant high employee attrition.

Many companies cut resources and headcount (for a number of maybe valid reasons) but unless done thoughtfully and systematically, such reductions would be the reasons for killing employee motivation. Every company must ‘stretch’ their limited resources but not at the cost of long-term problems that could result from myopic financial changes. It is the onus of a company to provide for its employees and give them the required and adequate amount of resources to do their job well and remain happy working with the company. Many companies ‘chop off’ their headcount in a bid to cut costs and then over work the remaining employees to get the productivity they want. Stretching employees beyond their capacity will either break them and kill their motivation irreparably or cause them to leave your company in scores. Killing employee motivation is easy when a company treats them as resources to use and dispose of. Chaos, strife, conflict and stress is commonplace in such organizations and is often too late before a company recognizes its blunder. Demotivated employees are also highly disgruntled and can potentially damage the image and reputation of the company by speaking ill of their practices and employee policies.

Killing employee motivation will have disastrous results and companies need to take a good hard look at their strategies and policies to ascertain if they too are guilty in treating their employees shabbily. Creating a happy workforce is a sure shot road towards success. The causes mentioned above for employee demotivation are not the only ones – there could be many more. For an organization to have a reputation as a great employer, irrespective of the company’s size, ensure that you avoid these blunders and do away with anything that could be killing employee motivation.

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