10 Symptoms of Demotivated Employees

Want to know why your employees are demotivated? Let's understand 10 symptoms of why your employees are demotivated before going for the cure.

Employee Motivation
10 Min read
March 14, 2020

Even ‘Best places to Work’ and the ‘Most sought after employers' have those dull, dark days when the ‘Fun person to hang out with’ or the ‘most amicable boss on the planet’ becomes a demotivated employee and leaves. A 2017-18 TimesJobs Job Satisfaction survey of over 2,200 working professionals revealed that 60% of the surveyed workforce are looking out for a job change. It also said that a stark 45% were dissatisfied with their job and working conditions. Exit interviews tend to work as post mortem reports and talent managers are left wondering how possibly the resource could have been retained. There are a few indicators that might help leaders identify demotivated employees. These symptoms, used along with thorough pathological examination, would help retain those ever valuable employees and the distress sold resignation increments. It will also help you understand what can be better done for employee motivation. Let’s understand 10 symptoms of demotivated employees.

Symptoms of demotivated employees

1. Absenteeism or Consistent late coming

Absenteeism or Consistent late coming
Source- Jobs.Ie

Has the management trainee who used to pull all nighters during project deadlines turned out to be a ‘forever stuck in the traffic’ executive? Is the once ‘never absent ever’ executive generating brilliant new reasons to skip work?

A 2012 study derived that the highest positive correlator of ‘conservation of time’ is ‘work mindedness’. This was amongst the 21 organizational factors that were presented to a group of 402 employees from across 5 companies in NCR, Delhi. The study, thus indicates that those punctual people out there - are definitely business drivers, too. Time to carve a plan of employee engagement and motivation if your employees are having daily hassles with traffic.

signs of demotivation in the workplace

2. Apathetic Attitude

Apathetic Attitude
Source- Carrier Management

Is one of your team members acting the way your partner does when in a bad mood? As if all they want to be is left alone? This is happening even during the increment season when the rest of the team is out with their spectacular selves? Better check this person up.

S. Bishvas’s 2010 study that surveyed 357 managers/executives from manufacturing and service sector companies, studied their responses on 5 factors - psychological climate, job satisfaction, job involvement, turnover intention and organizational effectiveness – and concluded high positive influence of psychological climate over job satisfaction. 

In other words, if there are any indications of psychological stress in an employee - it is also a red flag for the leader.

3. Conflict with Peers/ Boss

Conflict with Peers/ Boss
Source- Medium

An employee retention study by the Iowa State University showed that stayers engaged in more positive behaviours than leavers.

Has suddenly the rights become too vast or flexibility too undefined? Do you feel portrayed like a capitalist every time you are fulfilling your job responsibilities in team performance management? Time for a reconciliation conference.

"characteristics of a demotivated employee "

4. Constantly stressed/ bored

Constantly stressed/ bored
Source- The Business Journals

H J Carla’s study of 700 employees across medium and large sized agencies in South Carolina indicates that employee engagement is key to retain today’s workers.

If you know that there is not enough work for any of your team members to be on the desk ALL the time and if this person would not take even their regular breaks, it is important to find out why. 

No, they are not having a heated break up discussion over messages, - which you are sympathetic about – they are scoring high in a recently downloaded arcade game over your office wifi. Better check out their scores!
Constantly stressed/ bored

5. Leads negative discussions

S. Biswas elaborates his observations in a 2010 study. He says.

"The amount of involvement an individual will have with his/her job will depend upon the affirmative strength with which he/she psychologically perceives the various facets of his/her job and job environment."

Thus, when your team member is detected to be increasingly cynical about the company’s sustainability and management initiatives – it is surely the time for a deeper dig.

Leads negative discussions

6. Decrease in productivity and lousy quality of work

Decrease in productivity and lousy quality of work
Source- Time camp

Bakotić’s study on 40 large- and medium-sized Croatian companies, derived significant correlations between job satisfaction and financial indicators of organisational productivity.

Incomplete reports, erroneous data sheets, too much idle time – all are general indicators to have an interim review meeting. It could also be for a possible broken spirit– better find out.

Decrease in productivity and lousy quality of work

7. Withdraws from employee engagement events

Erdila et al s study on 195 employees who worked under a supervisor in İstanbul, empirically shows that workplace fun is positively related to engagement and taking charge.

Is the social butterfly now an indoor moth? You either need to re-look at the inclusivity of your employee programs or have a chat with the butterfly.

Withdraws from employee engagement events

8. Does not undertake new initiatives

Harte et al, in his study conducted across 36 companies and with 198514 respondents, concluded that employee engagement is related to meaningful business outcomes at a significant magnitude across companies.

You look at that dusty old file titled ‘Methods to maximize efficiencies of the asynchronous processes in congruence with the business process cycle’, and leave a heavy sigh on how intensive a no pay intern’s projects could be.

No initiatives from the same ‘then- interns -now-associates’? Time up for intense one on ones.

signs of demotivation in the workplace

9. Increased activity on professional networking sites

A statistic published by Linkedin tells that out of the 200 million who login to Linkedin daily, 22 million apply for a job.

Seeing frequent notifications on updates in your team member’s professional page? It also does not seem like a harmless status update but an entire relaunch of the profile? High chances are that the 22 Million has now a plus one.

signs of demotivation in the workplace

10. Does not responsibly contribute to discussions

Has the ‘can’t-stop-asking-questions’ person turned to ‘can’t-keep-eyes-open’ person? Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory famously quotes ‘responsibility, opportunity to do something meaningful’ as prime factors for being motivated. The absence of initiative to engage in such opportunities provided by the organization indicates that the person does not consider it as a motivation factor anymore.

Does not responsibly contribute to discussions
Foot Note:

These are the 10 signs of demotivation at workplace. Please use this symptom list with caution. There could indeed be a few cases of pathological meeting sleepers, office activists, wallflowers, chronic absentees, late comers, meeting skippers and level 200 candy crush players – all contributing to the office flora and fauna. Aid your observations with early warning signs given by team management platforms like Xoxoday - to maximise its significance. This will ensure you create a better employee experience boosting employee productivity.

  1. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/jobs/employee-job-satisfaction-looks-up-in-2017/articleshow/62029882.cms
  2. Ajay K.Jaina, Cary L.Cooper, ‘Stress and organizational citizenship behaviors in Indian business process outsourcing organizations ‘,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iimb.2012.06.004
  3. Soumendu Biswas, ‘Relationship between psychological climate and turnover intentions and its impact on organizational effectiveness: A study in Indian organisations’, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iimb.2010.07.008
  4. Martha Anne Stock, ‘Employee retention through the use of an exit interview’, Iowa State University 1996
  5. HenryhandJ.Carla, ‘The Effect of Employee Recognition and Employee Engagement on Job Satisfaction and Intent to leave in the Public Sector’,University of North Carolina, 2009
  6. Soumendu Biswas, ‘Relationship between psychological climate and turnover intentions and its impact on organizational effectiveness: A study in Indian organizations’, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iimb.2010.07.008
  7. BüşraMüceldilia ,OyaErdila , ‘Finding Fun in Work: The effect of workplace fun on taking charge and job engagement’,Gebze Technical University, Kocaeli 41400, Turkey
  8. Danica Bakotić, ‘Relationship between job satisfaction and organizational performance’, Economic Research-EkonomskaIstraživanja (2016)
  9. James K. Harter , Frank L. Schmidt, Theodore L. Hayes ,‘Business-Unit-Level Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, and Business Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis’, Journal of Applied Psychology Copyright 2002 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
  10. https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6438800810280255488.
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-factor_theory
  12. Image credit:  Vectorpocket, Freepik.com

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