When employee morale or performance levels are low, organisations often focus on initiatives to motivate employees. However while motivational initiatives are endeavouring to inspire employees to work harder, they do little or nothing to eliminate the factors that may be demotivating those same employees. Demotivators, which are negative conditions that decrease employee motivation, can be a result of normal operating practices and often go unnoticed or their impact underestimated. And if left unaddressed some of the more significant and potent demotivators can have a severe consequence on morale, performance and culture.
Dr Dean Spitzer outlines in his book "SuperMotivation: A Blueprint for Energizing Your Organization from Top to Bottom" that rather than try and fix the employees, fix the organisation. Here is a list of 17 x common workplace demotivators which may be impacting the morale of employees within your organisation.
1 - Office politics - Why work hard when politics, not performance, is what gets you ahead?
2 - Unclear expectations - Without realising it, management often sends a bewildering array of mixed messages that confuse, rather than guide, employees. For example, don’t push for speed at all costs, then demand quality.
3 - Unnecessary rules - Don’t prohibit talking, for example, when talking doesn’t hinder performance.
4 - Poorly designed work processes - Divide the process into boring, repetitious work, and you’ll get bored, demotivated workers.
5 - Unproductive meetings - Have you ever noticed how often employees leave meetings looking exhausted, battered and bored? Forcing employees to waste time in useless meetings won’t push them to be more efficient back on the job.
6 - Constant change - Change is vital for organizational success, but constant change is extremely disruptive. A habit of last-minute changes will erode the patience of even the most motivated of employees.
7 - Internal competition - Internal competition is not healthy. It creates a mentality of us vs. them.
8 - Hypocrisy - Hypocrisy usually involves lofty comments or promises, followed by contradictory behaviour. For example, how many times have you heard: "Thanks for the feedback", but your input was never acted upon.
9 - Withholding information - Employees who aren’t trusted, or who are lied to, aren’t inspired to work harder for the company.
10 - Discouraging responses- Naysayers in management eventually kill the drive to initiate.
11 - Criticism - Criticism is never constructive. Value mistakes, for in them lie the seeds of success.
12 - Under-utilization - Idle workers lose drive and motivation.
13 - Tolerating poor performance - Other employees will ask: Why bother to perform well?
14 - Being taken for granted - Employees will make the extra effort if you show you appreciate it.
15 - Over-control - Don’t treat employees like children or dummies and expect them to be responsible.
16 - Unfairness - Employees may not say anything, but productivity will take a dive.
17 - Being forced to do poor quality - The cost of poor-quality work goes far beyond the cost of replacement, scrap and dissatisfied customers. It includes the devastatingly demotivating impact on employees.
Any way you look at it, the human and financial cost of demotivators in the workplace is staggering. Demotivators exist because they are allowed to, and they remain because little or nothing has been done about them. Discover the problems in your organisational systems that are demotivating your employees and eliminate them. Once an organisations focuses on addressing on identified problems, demotivators will start to decrease and so will motivation of good staff members seeking employment elsewhere.
How many of these or other demotivators are in your organisation?
This article is adapted from Dean R. Spitzer, Ph.D. book, "SuperMotivation: A Blueprint for Energizing Your Organization from Top to Bottom”.
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Are Workplace Demotivators Severely Impacting Employee Morale?