5 Motivational Techniques When Employees are Feeling Low

Two Factor Theory (Human Motivation)
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Devayani Vyavaharkar
Student (University), Germany

5 Motivational Techniques When Employees are Feeling Low

🔥NEW Quite a few theories of motivation have emerged that describe how employee motivation is contingent upon job characteristics, employee needs, goals, feedback, reinforcements and several other factors. Despite these motivation theories, let us accept that there are days when employees find it tedious to keep on working.

Obviously, due to the Covid pandemic, this is being felt by a lot more employees than usual! The same factors that perhaps motivated them all along have suddenly stopped working their magic, no matter how hard they try. Consequently, for them handling clients, dealing with spreadsheets, assignments and deadlines resemble barriers almost impossible to overcome.

What to do? First of all, you should realize that different factors may emerge as proper motivators for different employees. For example, one employee might be motivated to work dedicatedly because he feels it is his responsibility to contribute to society, whereas another might be motivated because of the respect he earns or the job's high paying nature.

Below are a few simple yet efficient strategies that can help employees be motivated and boost them forward when they are unmotivated and "feeling low" (Editor: ~feeling somewhat dispirited, unmotivated, listless, temporarily depressed). The tactics are actually helpful both for self-motivation and for managers.

  1. SET GOALS RATHER THAN MERELY LISTING TASKS/CHORES: Goal setting is a key factor for boosting employee motivation. In a study conducted by Matthew (2015), it was revealed that when individuals wrote down their goals, they were 33% more successful in accomplishing them than those who had formulated them in their heads. Goals should be designed in a way as specific and as concrete as possible. Abstract goals such as 'increase monthly sales' or 'do your best' are ambiguous and lack a definite significance. Hence, they allow for a whole range of acceptable performances, which is not the case when a specific goal is set, for example, increase monthly sales by 3%. For goal setting to be effective, consider the acronym SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related.
  2. CONCENTRATE ON ENJOYABLE DETAILS OF THE JOB: Two types of motivators keep us going: extrinsic and intrinsic. However, when employees are asked to perform certain tasks and assignments that are complicated and unmotivating, the key is to focus on those aspects of the enjoyable job. For example, by accomplishing such tasks, employees can get an opportunity to showcase their talents to supervisors, maximize their potential or build more connections with clients and colleagues. Some boring parts of the job can be made more fun by pairing them with interesting actions. For example, having quick chats with favourite colleagues while waiting to print documents.
  3. CHOOSE EFFECTIVE REWARDS: One mistake that employees often commit is choosing rewards based on quantity of work done rather than the quality. For example, in the case of a salesperson, the reward should be set not simply after making a target number of calls. Instead, the focus should be more on the number of lead conversions one can achieve. Secondly, the incentives employees chose for themselves should not sabotage their performance while achieving the next goal. For instance, if a salesperson achieves his goal of making lead conversions in a week and decides to slack off the next few days as his reward, this will hamper their performance and set them back drastically.
    It has also been found that when employees are sure they will receive rewards, they are likely to be more effective than those who are unsure of the same. For instance, when employees in a firm are sure of getting a yearly bonus of a specific amount compared to when employees are sceptical regarding the bonus amount they will receive.
  4. KEEP ONE'S PACE OF PROGRESS CONSTANT: It is observed that employees have an extreme outburst of motivation when they direct their efforts to a new goal. As they progress with their work, this enthusiasm soon declines, and finally, there is hardly any to keep them going till the end. One tactic to avoid such slacking is to convert one outcome goal into several small or process goals that employees can achieve after taking small steps towards their target goal. Another mental strategy is to focus on how much work one has done till one reaches the midpoint, after which one can shift their attention on how much work is left to complete. For instance, if an employee needs to read a 50-page report, she should first concentrate on how many pages she reads until she reaches halfway. After that, she can direct her focus on how many pages are left for her to read.
  5. EMPLOY THE INFLUENCE OF OTHERS: In today's times, employees may be either working remotely or from the office. However, they are constantly influencing and influenced by the actions and behaviours of their colleagues, superiors and subordinates. One way to use social influence is to engage in conversation with motivated and dedicated employees. This can help raise one's self-esteem and find inspiration. Similarly, the social sphere in which one lives can act as another source of motivation for the employees. For instance, an educator will find their work rewarding if they believes it helps shape ideal citizens for the future.
Instead of sitting back and passively watching their success, employees can learn the above tactics and boost their own motivation. As a manager you can help employees by introducing them to these tactics.

⇒ Do you know any additional practical tactic for dealing with "Workplace Blues" (Editor; feeling sad, doesn't feel to do much, no zeal, low enthusiasm). Let's make the list of options and tools as complete as possible. We all benefit.

Fishbach, A. (2018, October 23). "How to Keep Working When You're Just Not Feeling It". Harvard Business Review.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). "Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation": A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57(9), 705717.
Matthews, G. (2015). "Goal Research Summary". Paper presented at the 9th Annual International Conference of the Psychology Research Unit of Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), Athens, Greece.


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