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 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/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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