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David FullerIt’s true that people don’t quit a job, they quit a boss.

A great boss can change the dynamics of an organization and inspire people to create a culture where work doesn’t feel like a chore.

Motivated staff are key to having an operation that’s well functioning and takes care of customers in a way that keeps them coming back.

There have been thousands of books written about how you can motivate your staff, but what things are you doing that discourage and demotivate your employees?

Here are five things you might be doing that reduce staff motivation:

Failing to onboard properly

I’ve heard many times from people that they’ve been extensively interviewed for a job but when it comes to the first day of work, they’re given a desk and expected to be up to speed in a matter of minutes. All they while, they’re trying to figure out who are associated staff members, their role and responsibilities, and the lay of the land.

Onboarding employees properly takes time and, when done well, shows new employees that you want them to succeed. Motivated employees know that they’re important to the organization’s success and are clear about its expectations.


Sometimes we forget that we hired people to do a job so we wouldn’t have to do it. The intent was to reduce our workload. Yet how often are we looking over our staffs’ shoulders, double checking their work and in some cases doing it for them?

There’s nothing as discouraging as having a job to do and unexpectedly having someone do it for you. Not only do you feel like you’re not trusted, you might feel there’s little purpose in even trying.

Drama in the workplace

For the most part, employees want to be able to come to work and get their job done and go home. They want to be inspired, not caught up in office politics or drama.

The emotional roller-coaster of a dysfunctional workplace can play havoc on employees’ mindsets. Whether it’s the boss freaking out or staff members who can’t seem to regulate their emotions, drama in the workplace is one of the reasons that people quit.

As leaders, it’s our job to ensure our employees feel safe in our workspaces.

Lack of accountability and fairness

It can be difficult for staff members to understand why some employees are given preferential treatment. When some employees are accountable for their work but we fail to have the same standards for others, we create an environment that quickly becomes toxic.

This doesn’t mean you need cameras watching your employees at all times. In fact, that in itself can be demotivating.

When there seems to be a lack of fairness in our organization, our leadership is in question.

If the company policy says employees shouldn’t be on their phone during working hours but the manager’s family member or one of their favourite employees seems to abuse the policy without consequences, employee motivation can suffer.

Handling these conversations with our favourite or even those staff who rub us the wrong way can be difficult. However, it’s a necessity that preserves the culture of our workplace.

Lack of fair pay

We talked about how lack of fair play in an organization can encourage people to start looking for new jobs. So can a lack of fair pay.

We need to understand that our employees want to work for a company that treats them well. This includes providing a safe and healthy working environment, and being seen as a company that pays employees fairly.

Understanding the going rate of pay for employees and having regular reviews of those rates and how they pertain to their jobs is important. In organizations where there’s collective bargaining, this is less of an issue than for small businesses.

It takes considerable stress and energy for an employee to ask for a wage increase. We don’t want to dismiss that conversation without serious thought and a process of evaluation.

There’s no good reason for a profitable small business not to share some of that money with the employees responsible for the company’s success. Great companies aren’t threatened by having employees who make a good living while providing great returns to the company’s bottom line.

Motivated employees are the lifeblood of every great business. Understanding what you can do to motivate your employees is essential.

But beyond that, we need to review our work environment to ensure we’re not missing the boat and creating a toxic environment that’s demotivating for our staff.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Motivated to contact Dave? Email [email protected]

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