10 Things Companies Do That Kill Employee Motivation

July 8, 2016

In 2013, Gallup sought to discover how many American employees weren’t engaged – i.e. didn’t really care about their jobs – and how much that disengagement cost companies.

The results were staggering. Gallup found 70 percent of US employees were disengaged, which cost their organizations between $450 billion and $550 billion in loss productivity that year alone.

Why are so many employees unengaged? Lots of reasons, but there are 10 things companies routinely do that cause their employees to stop caring about their jobs. They are:

1. Workers aren’t getting meaningful feedback.

Ideally, people want to receive positive feedback about their performance. But, even worse than negative feedback is no feedback, as that makes it seem like no one really cares about their performance.

Google, for example, has quarterly performance reviews, where employees are given feedback on how well they are doing and what they need to improve on. Conversely, if you are only having performance reviews once a year (or not at all), and your managers are rarely giving feedback to their employees, your people are going to think no one really cares what they do.

And then they’ll stop caring themselves.

2. There’s no real career progression offered.

The number-one reason people switch jobs is for career progression. If you aren’t giving your people a path to advance their career within your organization, they are going to see their job as a dead-end one.

And, most likely, that will cause them to stop caring about the job they have, and caring more about the next job they want.

3. There are no opportunities to learn.

Along those some lines, if you offer your employees no opportunity to learn and improve their skills, they are going to lose interest. People want to improve, they want to advance their career – so it’s critical for companies to make that to happen.

This is a win-win for the company as well. Because, by providing opportunities to learn, the company is upskilling its workforce and allowing itself to promote from within, instead of having to hire external candidates. But that can only happen if the organization is prioritizing learning and development.  

4. There’s an inordinate amount of policies and approvals.

There’s nothing more frustrating for an employee than any new idea having to go through insane amounts of approvals and policies to get implemented. Not only does this kill innovation, it kills employee motivation.

5. Employees are never surveyed about how they feel about the company.

Here at LinkedIn, employees are surveyed periodically to see what we like, what we don’t like and what we’d like to see changed. We are hardly unique; many other companies do the same thing.

This is critical, because if you aren’t asking your employees what they don’t like, you can’t fix it. And that’s going to mean that if you have a problem with your culture that’s killing your employees’ motivation, it will continue to go on.

6. All the people at the top of the org look and/or act the same.

As mentioned earlier, the biggest reason people leave jobs is because of a lack career development. If all the leaders at your organization look and/or act the same, the people in your organization who don’t look that way or act that way are going to become discouraged, fast. And often that’s going to cause them to stop caring about the job they have, and instead focusing on external jobs they want.

7. Employees are being measured on the amount of hours they work.

If your managers are judging employees by the amount of hours they work, then they are doing it wrong. This just incentives people to stay at the office longer, without necessarily producing more, which erodes motivation and morale.

Instead, make it a priority at your company to judge employees on what they produce and how well they fit in with your culture, not how much time they spend in the office.

8. Leadership isn’t transparent with their employees.

If all decisions are made behind closed doors, if there’s no way for employees to reach out to management and if all new initiatives feel like decrees from above, people are going to lose any sense of ownership in the company. And that’s going to directly effect their work ethic and sense of caring.

9. Managers are working late into the night.

It’s good that managers are working all hours of the night, right?

Well… not really. Often, this is the result of a manager either not delegating to their employees or redoing their work, both of which are a sign of mistrust. And both kill morale.

Either that, or the manager is just completely overworked, and therefore the employees are likely overworked. And that will also kill morale, and cause employees to become disengaged.

10. There’s absolutely no team bonding activities.

You don’t need weekly happy hours or daily fireside chats, but some team bonding activities go a long way to making people feel more engaged at work. Generally, it leads to people forming stronger bonds with their colleagues and feeling like the company appreciates them, both of which makes them care more.

Even something small, like bringing in bagels for breakfast or bringing the office out early for a drink, goes a long way to making people feel far better about the organization they work for.

*Image from reynermedia, Flickr 

Data shows one of the best ways to keep your employees engaged is to empower them to be the best they can be through a culture of learning. To learn how to do exactly that, download our free ebook

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