The Best Way to Demotivate People

We’re conditioned to believe that hard work is rewarded and those rewards will make us happier. And happier employees work harder. But what happens when people work really hard and no one notices?

Every organization seems to be searching for the secret sauce to employee engagement and a healthy company culture. The truth is that many organizations only scratch the surface to harnessing employee engagement to reach the team’s full potential. There is a wealth of research that indicates the biggest driver of employee engagement is more than Frisbee Fridays and snacks in the break room.

It’s impossible to talk about employee engagement without also talking about company culture. Company culture is not written in a binder or an exclamation in a mission statement. It’s not how people feel about the company; it’s the personality of an organization. It’s the emotional commitment people feel to the company, the work they do and the people they do it with. It’s a sense of purpose – that each member of the team is valuable.

People want to contribute and feel that our work has purpose. It is this innate desire that is at the core of human motivation. The very definition of motivation is “the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something;” it is also “the condition of being eager to act or work.”

So what is the primary driver for employees to be “eager to work“? There are many factors that motivate us to work. Sure work to pay the bills, but we also work to fulfill emotional needs – a sense of purpose, identity, contribution, and a connection with others. Human motivation is incredibly complex, and money may not even be at the top of the list. In fact, the transaction of money for work may be a demotivating force.

When we are acknowledged for our work, we will work harder for less pay. When we are not acknowledged, motivation to work and satisfaction from work decrease significantly.

– Dan Ariely

According to the 2019 TINYpulse Employee Engagement report, only one-third of employees said they are recognized when they go the extra mile, and only 25% feel they are valued for the work they do. And yet, The number one reason employees cite for being unhappy at work:

“lack of appreciation/acknowledgment.”

Moreover, one in five employees report they have NEVER been recognized at work!

The takeaway seems to apply to every organization looking to improve employee engagement:

Appreciate employees by recognizing the contributions they make, and they will be happier employees and work harder to contribute more.

Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.https://www.melissahughes.rocks/
Dr. Melissa Hughes is a neuroscience geek, keynote speaker, and author. Her latest book, Happier Hour with Einstein: Another Round explores fascinating research about how the brain works and how to make it work better for greater happiness, well-being, and success. Having worked with learners from the classroom to the boardroom, she incorporates brain-based research, humor, and practical strategies to illuminate the powerful forces that influence how we think, learn, communicate and collaborate. Through a practical application of neuroscience in our everyday lives, Melissa shares productive ways to harness the skills, innovation and creativity within each of us in order to contribute the intellectual capital that empowers organizations to succeed with social, financial and cultural health.
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Anonymous
Anonymous

So true, Melissa. Thanks for sharing!

Joe Kwon
Joe Kwon

A pat on the back, a kind word, a small token all go a long way.

Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis

Ah! The whole killing-intrinsic-motivation thing! So, so good, Melissa! You can count on me to help with cupcakes anytime friend!

Noemi Zarb
Noemi Zarb

There are a number of interlinked reasons why people feel demotivated at work. But from my experience, all t, these reasons can be bundled into one phrase: ‘a lack of respect and appreciation.’
Thank you Melissa for sharing though I feel that you are mostly speaking to the converted.

Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson

Melissa, I couldn’t help but agree with you.

Darlene Corbett
Darlene Corbett

Thank you for this Melissa Hughes, Ph.D. I see a number of people in all levels of management, and from everything they share, you are spot on! Words can be cheap, but they can also be priceless. I appreciate you highlighting this topic as you brilliantly do with others.💖

Jeff Ikler
Jeff Ikler

Right on! As usual! Kirsten and I had the opportunity to interview David Marquet (Turn the Ship Around) about his new book Leadership is Language – The Hidden Power of What You Say, And What You Don’t. He had a very interesting twist on the idea of recognizing employees, which has to be rooted in neuroscience. Basically it’s to call upon the employee to tell their story. If the leader acknowledges the accomplishment, the recognition is extrinsic to the individual. The leader is bestowing the recognition and reward, and the employee will consistently try to satisfy the leader in the future. If the individual tells the story, the recognition is intrinsic – they own the recognition as opposed to the leader. The leader can set things up by simply observing outloud what the employee did and noting what the likely impact could be. e.g. As the leader, say this: “Melissa wrote an article that raises the critical importance of employee recognition and its impact on personal and organizational performance. Melissa, give us the details here.” Don’t say this: “I really like the fact that you shed light on this important topic of employee recognition.” Does this make sense?

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