6 Reasons Your Best Employees Can Lose Their Motivation

Employees require a certain amount of energy and motivation to be engaged and feel fully committed at the workplace.

According to a recent study of 1.2K employees at 52 organizations, most of them Fortune 1000 companies, there’s cause for concern. Most employees start out with high levels of engagement and enthusiasm, the study finds. But after six months on the job, their morale declines sharply—and it continues to deteriorate for years.

If you’re losing good employees to apathy and disengagement, it’s critical that you regain their enthusiasm. Otherwise, you stand to lose your best people—the ones who will always have options—as they head for your competitors, leaving you with the dregs.

Poor employee engagement and retention are leadership issues, and it takes leadership to fix them. And that process begins with knowing what employees need that they aren’t getting. Here are some of the most common issues:

Lack of autonomy If your smartest and most talented employees are not allowed to make decisions on their own, if everything has to be decided from top down, they’ll quickly lose their motivation. Empower them to make decisions and have faith in their judgment.

Lack of professional development. Opportunities for learning and development are an instant boost to employee motivation—especially among the best. Employees like to feel that they’re are expanding and refining their skills. Providing opportunities for people to attain new knowledge and share it with others is one of the best ways to revitalize a stagnant workplace.

Unrealistic workloads. It’s important to keep expectations and demands reasonable. If your employees feel pressured to work longer, stay later, and work most weekends, they will soon become disillusioned, stressed and lacking in motivation. On the other hand, an employee whose workload is too light or not varied enough may quickly lose interest. Set reasonable, realistic expectations and check in from time to time to make sure workloads are still where they should be.

Lack of flexibility. If your workplace doesn’t honor work-life balance, even the most enthusiastic employees will burn out before you know it. Encourage time off, flexible work options and other solutions to keep employees happy and focused.

Lack of communication. Communicate to your employees, and do it often. Because not only does clear communication throughout the organization make for an efficient workplace, it also has a major impact on employee morale and confidence.

Feeling undervalued. An employee who feels that their efforts are not recognized or appreciated will soon begin to lose energy and commitment. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate successes and give credit where it’s due. Try to make sure that every achievement and effort is rewarded, even if it’s just with a simple thank you.

Leaders are often surprised that their best employees are demotivated—and even more surprised when they leave—but if the issues listed above aren’t being handled well, it’s only to be expected.

The signs are always there when there’s a problem; the questions for you as a leader is whether you’re watching and what you’re going to do about it.

Lead from within: To retain and keep your best employees, do what it takes to keep them motivated and inspired.



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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Michal

    22. Sep, 2019

    Good list. I would surely add a lack of purpose.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Erepamo Eradiri

    27. Aug, 2020

    Thsi is true “Lack of autonomy If your smartest and most talented employees are not allowed to make decisions on their own, if everything has to be decided from top down, they’ll quickly lose their motivation.”Thanks for sharing this great and inspirational post.

    Reply to this comment

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