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Motivation at work: what you can do about it
Illustration by Kevin Yu

6 min read

Motivation at work: what you can do about it

Here are ways to boost work motivation, even on those challenging days when you and your team's enthusiasm takes a backseat.

Even as the sun beams through your window to inspire your start of the day, a sense of fatigue quickly replaces the initial spark once you reach your desk. We've all experienced those moments when work feels stagnant and motivation wanes like a dimmed light.

Statistics reveal that 33% of employees are considering leaving their jobs because of sheer boredom. But here's the hidden truth: employee motivation isn't just for show - it's a fundamental cornerstone of success in the workplace.

Often, a company's trajectory is intricately linked to the motivation of its workforce. This begs the question: How do we unlock the door to sustained employee motivation and productivity?

In this guide, let's go over workplace motivation, the reasons for diminished enthusiasm, and practical solutions that will boost you and your team's motivation and make everyone's workday more fulfilling.

From self-care to having a positive work environment, here's how to keep yourself engaged and reposition yourself professionally.

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Understanding the causes of low motivation

Like a car without fuel, a lack of work motivation makes it difficult to be productive at work. The truth is that low motivation is a common challenge that even the most driven individuals encounter.

Let's unravel the puzzle and shed light on the factors that often put the flame out of motivation.

Lack of recognition and rewards

A rewarding work environment is the thread that weaves satisfaction and commitment. Your company's success depends on employee recognition because it encourages your employees to perform at their best, contributes to a healthy work culture, and keeps them loyal.

Yet, it's not just about the paycheck - it's about feeling valued. Many managers mistakenly believe that monetary compensation alone suffices. However, the missing piece here is personalized recognition.

A staggering 26% of employees feel they don't receive the same recognition as their peers, even with similar performance levels. This perception of favoritism dampens the motivational fire.

On the flip side, well-executed recognition programs level the playing field, nurturing employee engagement and ultimately boosting motivation.

Poor management

Ever felt like your motivation dwindled as a result of poor management? You're not alone. Strong leadership is like a beacon, guiding teams toward shared goals and fostering an environment of growth.

On the other hand, bad leadership can cast a shadow of doubt, eroding employee motivation. The key lies in recognizing that leadership isn't solely an innate trait. This is a skill that can be cultivated. Effective leaders inspire by example, communicate transparently, and provide the support needed for their teams to thrive.

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Can't get work done

There's no point in driving in the fast lane if you're only to be slowed down by constant traffic jams. Similarly, inefficiency can halt the flow of motivation. When tasks become a labyrinth of obstacles and processes are more convoluted than necessary, frustration sets in.

Reclaiming motivation requires streamlining workflows, harnessing the right tools, and fostering an environment where work is a smooth, rewarding journey.

Integrating an employee success platform can also streamline resources and communication, motivating employees to work more efficiently through a streamlined process.

Insufficient challenges and growth opportunities

Just as a plant seeks sunlight to grow, individuals thrive when exposed to challenges and growth opportunities. A lack of these elements can lead to stagnation, extinguishing the motivational spark.

Constructive feedback is a vital ingredient here. It's not just about pointing out weaknesses; it's about guiding employees toward improvement. Giving constructive feedback nurtures morale, sustains engagement, and strengthens collaboration.

Beyond feedback, fostering a culture of learning and providing avenues for professional development is crucial for sowing the seeds of motivation in your employees to be more productive and maximize their potential.

By addressing these challenges head-on, we set the stage for a more motivated, engaged, and successful work experience. 

Strategies for boosting motivation

It is clear by now that motivation plays a key role in success in the workplace. Does it get activated in a certain way? Here are some actionable strategies to boost employee motivation.

Establishing clear goals and expectations

When employees lack clear goals and expectations, motivation can drift aimlessly. Providing a roadmap of objectives and outlining the expected outcomes creates a sense of purpose.

When employees understand how their efforts contribute to the bigger picture, motivation ignites as they steer towards meaningful milestones.

Creating a positive work environment

A positive work environment, characterized by open communication, respect, and camaraderie, fosters motivation. When employees feel valued and supported, they're more likely to invest their energy into their tasks.

Simple gestures like celebrating achievements or encouraging collaboration go a long way to fostering a positive vibe.

Providing opportunities for skill development and growth

Consider your skills as a garden - the more you nurture them, the more they flourish. Offering opportunities for skill development and growth cultivates motivation.

Employees who see a clear path to expand their skill set are more likely to invest in their professional journey. Learning and development programs not only enhance individual capabilities but also invigorate motivation.

Offering incentives and rewards

Think of incentives as ways for employees to feel recognized and keep pushing forward. They provide a tangible boost - whether it's monetary recognition, a spotlight on accomplishments, or a simple "well done" - and acknowledge and celebrate efforts.

An employee recognition gift provides a tangible accomplishment, which fills anyone's workday with positivity and motivates them to excel.

Tips for maintaining motivation


Keeping your motivation steady requires consistent care and attention. With that, sustaining motivation requires solid strategies. Let's explore some hands-on tips to ensure your motivation remains vibrant and ready for action.

Practicing self-care and stress management

A healthy work-life balance is the fuel that restores your motivation. Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and exercise are essential components. Additionally, practicing stress management techniques, such as deep breathing or mindfulness, helps prevent burnout and maintains a steady motivation flow.

Seeking support and accountability

A network of support from colleagues, mentors, and friends helps everyone remain on track. Sharing your goals and progress also creates a sense of accountability, which keeps you focused. When others are cheering you on, as well as the other way around, motivation becomes a collaborative effort.

Celebrating successes and progress

No success is too small to be acknowledged. Celebrating even the tiniest of victories drives motivation. Take time to acknowledge your accomplishments, whether it's completing a task, reaching a milestone, or overcoming a challenge.

By recognizing progress, you infuse positivity into your journey, rekindling your motivation to achieve more.

Continuously reassessing and adjusting goals

Consider your goals as a compass, where occasionally, it needs recalibrating to stay on course. Regularly reassess your goals to ensure they remain aligned with your aspirations.

As circumstances change, your goals may evolve. Adjusting your goals keeps them realistic and relevant, preventing frustration and maintaining a steady motivational rhythm.

In conclusion

Remember that employee motivation isn't fleeting. This is a fire you can stoke. It's ultimately about your commitment to growth and your dedication to embracing each day with energy.

Nowadays, employee engagement isn't enough; employees need to find "meaningful work." Employees need to know their contributions matter, and this requires a holistic approach that goes beyond simple employee engagement (though it's a good start). 

By conquering challenges across multiple facets, achieving goals, and infusing purpose into each day, you harness motivation's power to shape you and your team's professional path toward employee success


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