The Fastest Way to De-motivate Employees

(It’s easier than you think!)

We’re conditioned to believe that hard work is rewarded and those rewards will make us happier and our work will be more meaningful. But what happens when you work really hard and no one notices?

There are many factors that motivate us to work. We work to pay the bills, but we also work for a sense of purpose, identity, fulfillment, 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.

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. As one of the largest databases in the world for employee feedback, this report includes data from over 25,000 employees across 20 industries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia from January to December 2018.

The report uncovered a few other interesting links between performance, culture and engagement. Here are a few highlights:

  • Lack of support correlates to low performance
    High performers are far more likely to get the help they need. When asked ‘How effective is our organization at offering help when you ask for it?’ high performers provided a rating 22% higher than low performers.
  • Happy workers are high achievers
    High performers are roughly 15% happier at work than low performers. This result aligns with research conducted by the University of Warwick that found happiness increases productivity by 12%.
  • High performers report feeling 15% more valued, but not more recognized
    The average rating high performers provide when asked the question “How well are you recognized when you do great work?” is only 2% higher than low performers.

According to a 2018 survey conducted by O.C. Tanner, 82% reported that the best way to motivate them to work harder is to show appreciation for their work. And yet, the number one reason employees cite for being unhappy at work: “lack of appreciation/acknowledgement.” 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.

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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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Susan Rooks

And this concept works everywhere I can think of, Melissa! I recently left a BOD position (after four years) here in my village because the newly (re)elected president has never complimented me or anyone else for a job well done. On the contrary, she has been known to point out deficiencies on our parts — real or imagined — in BOD meetings.

She went after me at our organizational BOD meeting in July for something that was not done to her liking (although she wasn’t da prez then), yet ended well. I decided it wasn’t worth staying on the board because she clearly didn’t see any of my accomplishments as worth mentioning.

And public shaming has never worked well, to my knowledge.

An old adage comes to mind: Praise in public. Critique in private.

John Dunia

Thanks again, Melissa, for an enlightening article on the workplace. I hope management will soon see the value in managing and not ruling.

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