How to Combat the Biggest Killers of Employee Motivation (Part One)

As managers, we are tasked with the responsibility of keeping our employees motivated. The presence or lack of motivation can be caused by any number of reasons on both a personal or professional level.

Motivation can also change in a matter of seconds from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows and we have to be there to not only understand why and sympathize, but to help that employee gain their motivation back.

We will never be able to target every single reason for employee motivation or lack there of, it is just impossible. But we can list some of the biggest, known killers of employee motivation and how to combat them.


  1. No self-development: If an employee is performing the same tasks over and over again to the point where they feel as if their work is monotonous, it will cause a big drop in motivation. As an employee, no matter what job or department we work in, we need the opportunity to grow and feel as if we are learning new things. Managers can be key in this self-development by providing inspirational and educational training for each member of their team.
  2. Micromanaging bosses: Much like the opportunity to grow and develop, employees also look for signs of respect from their bosses. One very big sign of respect is showing a level of trust in your employees so that they know you aren’t watching over their shoulders at all times. To combat this, try putting a little more trust in your team and spend less time worrying about how long they took for lunch, or whether they log in and log out at an exact time each day.
  3. Inadequate rewards: Employees are constantly thinking about whether they are being paid enough for their work, or being rewarded properly whether it is bonuses at the end of the year, or gift cards quarterly for the top performer. Despite the company culture or their love of the job, even the most engaged employees would jump ship for a slight pay increase. The solution? Define an open rewards system, so each party (manager and employee) knows what to expect and be open to a new type of rewards system if yours doesn’t seem to be cutting it.
  4. Too many negative people: It is unfortunate, but a fact of life, that negativity spreads faster than positivity. As the leader of a team, this spread of negativity is something we have all experienced in one way or another. The key is to locate the start of the negativity train (usually the same person or group of people) and try to see how that negative outlook can be changed, or in certain cases if the person or group needs to be removed or separated. Once negativity starts it can be hard to squelch, so try to find the source as soon as possible and stop the bleeding.
  5. Awful office space: Employees everywhere dream about one day working at an office like Google’s, I mean for Pete’s sake they have a slide in their office! It may not be something we cannot completely impact (like paint colors or layout of the space) but there may be alternate routes you can take. So you can’t change the whole office? Incorporate some sort of fun perk or event, or even a cool image or picture for the office (or even in the bathrooms) to try to excite and motivate your employees.

Employees can gain or lose motivation so easily that it is our job as managers to get to know our team and identify those sources of motivation. Each person will have their different quirks and unique characteristics, but as a whole we can see that most people want the same basic things. As managers, we can use the list of identifiers to try to make a change and make our work environment a better place to be.

Be sure to check back in next week for part two of the biggest killers of work motivation and how to combat them.

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Finally, if you would like to find out how WorkCompass and our performance management software can increase employee motivation. Get in touch today and request a demo with our team.