Staff underperformance can cause a ripple effect throughout the rest of the organisation. From team morale to customer service, multiple areas are quickly affected when a staff member is underperforming. 

While you can’t always guarantee when and how an employee will start to underperform, there are a few things you can look for to understand why they might be showing signs of underperformance. 

Understanding staff underperformance is a great first step in ensuring your team's rest doesn’t fall into the same trap. 

Here are five common reasons for staff underperformance and how to prevent them.

Disengaged Management

When management feels like their efforts unrecognised or unappreciated, they can quickly start to feel disengaged. 

If management feels disengaged and starts to show signs of underperformance, they are unlikely to promote a positive work attitude to the rest of their team. 

When leadership goes wary, the rest falls shortly after, so make sure you provide a frequent opportunity for management to discuss their career progression and the task at hand. 

No Room to Grow 

A staff member could be performing really well, but once they feel they're owed a promotion, they could start to underperform. 

In some instances, organizations might not have positions available for promotion. Having no room for promotion can have a seriously negative impact. 

It makes staff as if they have nothing to work towards. 

If this is the case, there are ways to challenge employees in their position without the need for a promotion. 

Lack of Incentives

Staff underperformance can be a result of a lack of incentives. 

If staff are working hard towards a target or goal with nothing in return, it can be hard to find motivation. 

Lack of incentives can be especially impactful on sales teams. Whether it’s team bonuses, pay raises or as little as a thank you. 

Brainstorm some ideas that are within your team’s budget. To get you started, check out this article on 25 low-cost ways to reward employees

Personal Issues or Work-Related Stress 

Whether there are personal issues at home or the job demands are unmanageable, work-related stress can become hard to manage. 

If you feel as though this might cause staff underperformance, create a safe and open space for the staff to express this. 

To be a good manager, you need to support your employees and try to understand their circumstances. Try to help them deal with their personal issues, which will encourage your employees to perform well at work.


One of the number one causes of staff underperformance is a lack of motivation. 

Whether it’s personal motivation, team motivation or from the management; staff need to feel a reason as to why their working for your company. 

They want to believe in its mission and values and need a source of motivation to help them stay on top of targets and work collaboratively with their team. 

Motivation doesn’t need to have a monetary value.

Watching for Underperformance 

To prevent staff underperformance, you can start with these 5 strategies. 

It’s important to keep communication open, lead with a positive attitude and ensure that teams have clear goals. 

For an easy solution to roster on your best staff and streamline communication, sign up for RosterElf’s free demo and get rostering today.