Freelo Business Wiki Human Resources Fighting with Motivation: Why Every Second Employee Struggles with It and How to Spark their Drive

Fighting with Motivation: Why Every Second Employee Struggles with It and How to Spark their Drive

In the Czech Republic, 44% of employees lack motivation. Even fewer are motivated and satisfied, only 39%. According to global statistics, only 15% of employees are truly engaged. So in a global context, this is not a bad result. But what about all the innovation, productivity and, in short, money that low motivation robs us of?

Managers influence 70% of motivation 👍

Almost three quarters of your subordinates‘ motivation depends on you. You better read why employee motivation matters, how to measure it, and how to effectively increase it in the next article. 

5 reasons why motivated employees will give your company a competitive advantage

Motivated employees work better. Read the following lines and realize how employee motivation affects everything.

1. Increases labor productivity

By working conscientiously, motivated employees are more productive. In addition, they set an example for other team members, which further increases productivity.

Few people know that (de)motivation is contagious. Positively motivated colleagues drive the department forward and promote satisfaction. On the contrary, Bata warned that „sighers“ will infect your entire team within a week.

2. Jumpstart innovation

When you incentivize employees with rewards and other benefits, you build a culture of innovation. Supported and valued employees rise to the challenge. They stimulate their own growth and that of the company. The best results come from managers who tailor rewards to their team members, because each person is an individual with different needs.

3. Improves work attendance

Employee wellbeing (mental and physical well-being) is a fundamental prerequisite for good performance. Good managers know this and are therefore concerned about whether the employee is assigned an adequate amount of work so that they are not overwhelmed and over-stressed.

Of course, there may be times when it is necessary for a person to „work“ and work beyond working hours. Especially when it is an exceptionally important deadline or seasonal work like an accounting deadline. However, this must be balanced by a quieter period when the employee works fewer hours or not at all.

If the overtime lasts a long time, the employee will increase his/her absenteeism due to doctor’s appointments and illnesses. Whether the illnesses are fictitious or real, they will stem from exhaustion. In either case, they will dramatically reduce work productivity. Eventually, the employee will leave altogether.

Práce přesčas nepřinesla vděk

4. Reduces employee turnover

When an employee quits, the department’s overhead costs increase. In the U.S., the average cost of hiring an employee is $4,000. It takes up to several weeks to conduct a selection process, which unschedulously employs HR staff and managers.

Until the successful candidate comes out of the selection process and takes over the agenda, the work is tied up. Or at least the minimum required is done by the original employee who is on notice. Or he or she has agreed with the employer to leave early and his or her position is covered by colleagues or temporary workers.

However, in addition to the loss of productivity during the turnover period, you have lost opportunity costs. Where could your business have been if a proactive and motivated colleague had been sitting in the chair of a demotivated employee all along? In the US, demotivated employees cost companies up to $450 billion a year. Learn how to choose the right people for your team here.

If employee departures occur too frequently, there is also a continuity problem as there is insufficient training and handover.

5. Build company reputation → make it easier to recruit more employees

Organizations that know how to work with employee motivation create a unique work environment that becomes their brand. You won’t build this overnight, of course, but you’ll need data-driven strategies based on feedback from your existing employees. When you do, though, every employee becomes a brand ambassador that helps you attract and retain top talent.

How to recognize and measure employee motivation

Getting employee motivation into metrics is difficult. You need to know how they really feel. Some companies use special software to do this.

Did you know that...

Although 71% companies consider employee data to be crucial, only 8% actually have any usable data.

Tools for measuring motivation

In order to successfully motivate employees, you need to evaluate, i.e. measure, their motivation and satisfaction. To do so, the following comes in handy:

Regular meetings with immediate supervisor or HR representative

An honest conversation in a safe space will tell you the most about motivation. How to conduct such a meeting and how to give feedback can be found in the next article.

1:1 meetings don't suffice 🤓

Some questions won’t be answered honestly by an employee face to face.

Employee Motivation Questionnaire

In addition to 1:1 interviews, short online surveys with the possibility to answer anonymously are suitable.

Definitely don’t just rely on the big once-a-year surveys. They are difficult to evaluate, but especially the annual interval is too long. By the time you figure out the problem, the employee may have been living with it for a year and is close to termination.

Personality tests

To build the most effective team, you need to know the personality of each member. This will help you use adequate incentives. We are all different. Some people are driven by a vision of power or fame, others by a desire for knowledge or deeper meaning. To identify motivators and roles, there are a number of tools such as the Belbin Team Inventory Test, the Enneagram of Personality, Shein’s Career Anchors etc.

Nine motivators of every person according to the theory of motivational maps. Source

Signs of a demotivated employee

It is not always easy to recognize that an employee lacks motivation. Therefore, in addition to the motivation measurement tools described above, pay attention to the following signals.

Employee is not proactive

When people lack motivation, they think they can’t influence anything. That’s why they save their energy and don’t „think ahead“. They just react to the current situation. They refuse new tasks, resist responsibility and do the work just to „keep from being told“.


This situation is typical for teams where communication does not work well

Improve the handling of task responsibilities:

  • Communication will be given a clear structure
  • Everyone will be able to focus on the perfect result of their work
An animation of how to assign a solver to a new task

Employee not coming up with ideas

Motivated people are not afraid to speak up when they have an idea or a question. They are willing to solve problems and admit when they are wrong. They care about the success of the team and try to make the most of their potential. When motivation drops, so does communication. One-sided communication prevails, where team members only take orders but do not bring their own perspective.

A possible solution is to directly invite employees to give feedback, to suggest process improvements and to hand over some decision-making power to them.

Negative body language

The body often reveals more than words. Crossed arms on the chest, eyes downcast, shrugging shoulders, loud sighs indicate the employee’s disapproval and desire to be somewhere else.

If you notice such behavior, it is better to point it out immediately and ask the employee directly (but be careful about addressing it in front of other colleagues, it could be humiliating for the person concerned). Body language can be tricky. Perhaps your subordinate is just cold, ashamed or troubled by something else entirely other than a lack of motivation. Rather, watch for overall and longer-term changes in behavior.

Ashley Olsen dává oči v sloup

They clock out as soon as possible

When a team member keeps checking their watch, leaves exactly at the end of the working day and spends 30 minutes in the toilet, we can assume that their motivation is at a standstill.

Add to that the late arrivals and frequent absences under the pretext of traffic jams, doctor’s appointments and more, and it’s suspicious to say the least. Likewise, when an employee is physically present but mentally absent.

Ideally, employees have no problem completing a high-priority task, even if it means staying a little longer. In return, however, they should be able to leave early when there is no urgent deadline to make up for the overtime.

In the US in particular, there is also a new phenomenon called quiet quitting, which in short means to do the bare minimum and leave as soon as they’re done. The term and the process have been coined by Generation Z, who find it challenging to separate their personal and professional lives due to the influence of technology. Moreover, they don’t identify with the performance culture of their older colleagues, the millennials.

Ru Paul v dragu říká sashay away

Don’t confuse demotivation with overwork

When an employee seems demotivated, stop and think about whether their feelings are due to too much workload. The signs of low motivation and overwork are very similar. The appropriate response is quite the opposite.

While an unmotivated employee is often helped by handing over some of the decision- making authority, for an overworked employee, it would just be another task that they can’t keep up with. On the contrary, he needs you to help him define priorities and delegate or streamline his teamwork.

When the workload is too high, you will see that:

  • An employee spends more time at work than before yet misses deadlines or makes mistakes
  • He’s more emotional, more irritable, you can see the restlessness and stress
  • He can’t keep up with family matters like children’s parties, birthday parties, and that’s for a long time
  • Talented people are leaving the company

For example, you can get a lower workload by organizing your work better. That’s exactly what Honza Bartoš did.

Thanks to Freelo, each team member saves 30 minutes a day.

Final remarks: A signpost to the topic of employee motivation

The topic of employee motivation is a broad one, so we will be covering it in other articles in Business Wiki. Look forward to:

  • A guide on how to give feedback (At Freelo we have 1:1 retrospectives, team retrospectives and a monthly summarization.)
  • An overview of employee rewards, from regular to Did you know that at Freelo we have profit sharing and can play sports 3 hours a week during working hours?
  • Explaining why the same rewards do not produce the same results

From a more practical standpoint, you can read what specifically motivates programmers: A survey among programmers: What attracts them to companies in 2023? The importance of money is growing


At Freelo we ask what the crew (dis)enjoys and how they are doing every 3 months.

The anonymous Google survey is relatively easy to set up and evaluate. Business Wiki Human Resources Fighting with Motivation: Why Every Second Employee Struggles with It and How to Spark their Drive

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