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Engaged and motivated employees are one of the most important components of successful companies. There is a big difference between employees who are doing the bare minimum just to get through the work day and employees who are so passionate about their jobs that they go above and beyond to strive for excellence.

There are countless books and articles instructing employers about the best ways to motivate their employees, but the fact is that employee values and needs have changed over the years. More and more employees, especially millennials, seek job opportunities that align with their values. While previous generations may have been more concerned with salary, bonuses, and vacation time, studies have shown that employees between the ages of 18 and 35 want to feel like they are making a difference in the world through their work and want to know that their efforts are appreciated.

It is easier to recognize the signs of an unmotivated team than it is to understand what caused the lack of interest and effort. When employees arrive late, take extra long breaks, consistently fail to meet deadlines and benchmarks, or appear generally down and discouraged, it is likely they are failing to connect to their work. There may be a number of factors leading to unengaged employees. Here are eight primary reasons for a loss of motivation in the workplace.

  1. Employees aren’t connected to their personal “why.” An employee’s personal “why” is the reason he or she gets out of bed in the morning and comes to work each day. It is their intrinsic motivation. When team members see their job as something they do for someone else and not something that fulfills a personal need, they are more likely to feel dissatisfied or burnt out.
  2. They aren’t bought into the big picture. Today’s employees want to know their work is important and meaningful. If a team member does not understand or agree with the company’s big picture mission and vision, it will be harder for them to connect to the role they have to play in it.
    They aren’t being appreciated. According to a HubSpot poll, 69% of employees said that they would work harder if they were better appreciated. Companies with better employee engagement are not only more profitable, they also save money because their staff sticks around and they don’t have to deal with the expense of hiring and onboarding new employees.
  3. They have too much responsibility and not enough control. Studies have shown that employees become burnt out or disgruntled when they have a high level of responsibility and a low level of control over their situations. Try to create a work environment where these factors are balanced. For example, if your team members are carrying a lot of responsibility, give them more control over their schedules and work environment.
  4. Their home life is stressful.
    What happens in an employee’s life outside of work can have a major impact on how they show up for their job and engage with their fellow team members. When companies don’t support a healthy work-life balance and provide few social outlets, mental health support opportunities, and flexible time off programs, it may be harder for employees to manage the stress of their home life.
  5. They don’t have clear promotion opportunities. People are more motivated when they feel like they are making progress and working toward a specific goal. By creating advancement opportunities within your company and making it clear to employees how they can get ahead, you will encourage them to give their best.
  6. They don’t feel their voice matters. Employees are more likely to be engaged if they believe their opinion is important to the company and will be considered by management. When staff members feel like they have a voice and can impact the direction of the company or individual projects, they’re more likely to feel a sense of ownership and invest more in ensuring a successful outcome.

They aren’t connected to their teammates. A sense of belonging and community is a deep need that all humans share. Teams with a strong feeling of cohesiveness, trust and acceptance will outperform teams that feel disjointed and disconnected.