Understanding the cause of staff demotivation can be challenging and time-consuming. 

Identifying employees who feel demotivated as soon as possible is crucial, then working out "why" before acting to fix it. 

Once you know "why", you can apply a targeted strategy to help re-motivate them. Employees losing motivation fall into four categories, known as motivation traps. 

Here are four reasons your staff are likely feeling demotivated. 

1. Values mismatch

Employees who don't value the task you've given them will likely feel unmotivated to do it. 

Invest time into finding out what your employees want to work on and try allowing them to do so. A common mistake is thinking about what motivates you and assuming it encourages your employees. 

There are different types of values that you can draw from:

Interest Value:

Find a connection between what your employee likes and how it relates to the task.

Identity Value:

When giving your employee a task, highlight how the job relates to an aspect they consider essential to their role. Factors could include engaging in teamwork, analytical problem solving or working under pressure.

Importance Value: 

How important is the task? Make it known to your employees and team that the job is crucial in achieving the team/company's mission.

Utility Value: 

Utility value is the cost of achieving the task vs. its importance. Sometimes you must explain how and why the more undesirable tasks need completing to see future benefits, accomplish goals or the bigger picture and avoid blowbacks.

When an employee doesn't value the tasks you've given them, your best bet is to try and appeal to multiple values that may motivate them to complete the task.

2. Lack of Confidence and Self-Belief

The second reason for staff demotivation could be their self-confidence and self-belief. As a manager, you should be building your employees' self-belief and self-confidence; otherwise, they won't have the motivation to complete tasks.


To help build confidence, point out times they've done it before. Your employee has faced similar challenges before that they have overcome; you need to remind them. 


Strengthen their self-belief by progressively giving them more difficult challenges or simplifying a challenging task they can complete in stages.

Self-belief can work oppositely too. For example, your employees may sometimes feel overqualified for the task you have given them, resulting in a loss of motivation to complete the job. 

3. Disruptive Emotions

Staff become demotivated when they battle with emotions such as anxiety, depression, or anger. 

Start by having a private conversation with this employee. Tell them you want to understand why they feel the way they are and actively listen to what they say. 

Try to remain neutral and briefly summarise back to your employee what they have said to show them that you understood what they've said. 

When employees feel they have been listened to, their emotions may soften. If need be, schedule a time the next day to discuss it again with them, as it can give your employees time and space to gain control over their emotions.

4. Attribution errors

When employees can't identify why something didn't work, they'll be unmotivated to do the task again.

Attribution errors often happen when your employees are finding excuses not to complete the task. These can include calling in sick, pleading overcommitment, trying to give the job to someone else, or claiming they are time-poor.

Help your employee identify why the task seems impossible to complete and help them move past the challenge.


With all these tips and steps to identify motivational issues, research shows that managers can do more to help keep their employees motivated. 

With staff demotivation, you need first to identify which motivational issue has emerged so you can follow the steps to help get your employee back on track.

For more motivational tips and tricks for management, check out our blog

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