8 Common Causes of Workplace Demotivation
Can you say that you truly love your job? Not very likely, according to the research. Among other things, recent studies reveal that 48% of employees worldwide don’t even like their jobs, more than 80% of US workers feel stressed at the office, and only 30% feel “engaged and inspired” by their careers. Especially troubling for leaders and business owners, 18% are actively disengaged – that is, present at work but hating every minute of it.
The facts are sobering and expensive. Beyond the frustration of having checked-out paper pushers or haters in our organizations, this lack of satisfaction and motivation costs us billions in lost productivity.
But what actually causes the disengagement? If you’re trying to understand your own job dissatisfaction, or root out a morale problem at your company, consider these common reasons people hate their jobs.
Micromanagers may have good intentions – trying to get work done well – but they drive us crazy. Micromanagement saps the life out of us, causing apathy at work.
In an eye-opening article on the dangers of micromanagement, HBR blog contributor Christina Bielaszka-DuVernay writes, “because a consistent pattern of micromanagement tells an employee you don’t trust his work or his judgment, it is a major factor in triggering disengagement.”
Those disengaged employees might stay at their company and muddle through, or decide to leave for more autonomy. Recruiter.com’s Shala Marks warns, “people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.”
2. Lack of progress
As it turns out, money for nothing doesn’t feel so great. While it might seem that we work for our salary, studies like this one show we want to feel that our work matters.
When a company can’t get its act together, or when any change or new idea a worker tries to implement has to go through endless layers of red tape, employees lose any motivation or passion that they might have had. People like enough process to be effective, but not to create busy work.
Organizations should also be mindful of unnecessary rules that don’t actually benefit the company (i.e. restrictive office hours, Internet usage, or vacation policies). When they start to feel controlling rather than efficient, employees bristle.
3. Job insecurity
When we’re on a sinking ship, we start preparing for the jump. Employees who work for unstable companies or in jobs deemed expendable 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.
As a leader, it’s extremely difficult to keep your best talent in place during uncertain times. The best you can do is to communicate frequently, and give your team a sense of loyalty and trust. You can’t make people stay, but you can encourage transparency on both sides so you’re not surprised.
4. No confidence in company leadership
We don’t have to love our leaders to be happy, but we can’t believe they’re incompetent. Once we lose faith in where our company is heading, then our loyalties fray and we cease to wholeheartedly follow. We can even get subversive.
Fellow Forbes contributor George Anders cites a recent study that confirms the importance of excellent workplace leadership, saying, “bosses who inspire confidence, who show faith in their employees, and who communicate an inspiring vision…are rewarded with a workforce that is ready to get things done.”
5. Lack of recourse for poor performance
When we go to work, we like to be rewarded and recognized for our contributions. If this isn’t happening, or worse, people doing mediocre work are getting the same treatment as strong performers, it’s natural to just turn off and do your job on autopilot. Companies that don’t deal with performance issues bring down the average for everyone.
6. Poor communication
A seasoned journalist I worked with years ago said this about workplace dynamics: “Never attribute to conspiracy what incompetence can explain.” In the absence of information, rumors thrive. Employees end up guessing, confused, and frustrated. If there’s not an avenue to communicate back to leadership for clarification, it gets even worse. Having to spend large amounts of time getting the information we need to do our jobs is exhausting.
Not only does clear communications throughout the organization make for an efficient workplace, as this article points out, it has a major impact on employee morale and confidence.
7. Unpleasant coworkers
In my 20s, I had a job that didn’t pay much nor provide exciting work, but I loved going to work every day because of my co-workers. We were a tight-knit team that worked together all day then went to happy hour after work. The importance of working with people we like can’t be overstated. Friendships make up for a lot of ills, and the reverse is also true. A well-paying, career-enhancing job with a group of back-stabbers is a recipe for stress and misery.
As Gallup research has shown for years, and professor Christine M. Riordan reports, “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”
You don’t have to have best friends at work, but you do need to be able to relax around your colleagues and enjoy their company.
Gen Y workers are known for seeking jobs that are personally satisfying and inspiring to them, but they’re not alone. As this statistics-packed Huffington Post article reveals, 55% of Gen X and Gen Y workers believe that finding a job that’s personally fulfilling is worth sacrifices in salary. A recent LinkedIn poll also shows this increasing desire for fulfillment among various age groups and geographies. The research found that those over 65 were the most excited about their work, showing that we all want to be inspired no matter where we are in our careers.
Have you been demotivated at work? Why? Comment here or @kristihedges.
This post also appears on Forbes.com.
Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. Find her at kristihedges.com and @kristihedges.
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