Julie Tucker
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Workplace motivation: How to find that inner spark

Have you ever wondered how to find that inner spark when your workplace motivation is running on empty? If so, you’re not alone: 70% of employees admit to feeling disengaged at work.

Gallup research has revealed companies often recognise the importance of keeping the workforce motivated but they fail to do anything about it. As a result, many employees lack enthusiasm and creativity and have a greater likelihood of quitting their job.

Business analysts have recognised a new trend dubbed “quiet quitting” in the aftermath of the Great Resignation phenomenon of 2021. Employees started to resign in their droves during the Covid pandemic, citing poor pay, the rising cost of living, a lack of promotion opportunities, inflexible remote working policies and inadequate benefits.

Now, quiet quitting is taking over: employees are going into work, but doing the absolute bare minimum just to avoid being sacked. They are said to be present physically but disengaged emotionally.

How does low motivation affect the workplace?

A study of more than 50,000 workers by the Corporate Leadership Council revealed those who felt motivated were 31% more productive; 33% more creative; and they achieved 37% higher sales, compared with their demotivated colleagues. Those who have job satisfaction are also 87% less likely to leave the company to move to pastures new.

The Gallup research suggested more than two-thirds of demotivated employees said their lack of enthusiasm was influenced by their manager. Many of those who resigned were leaving a manager they considered inadequate.

How can you find your inner spark?

Even when a person feels like they’ve lost all enthusiasm for their job role, there are ways to find that inner spark again. Changing your mindset can help, according to research carried out by Patricia Chen, a psychology professor.

People labelled “fit theorists” believe they need to find their “perfect job fit” to be successful and happy at work. However, this can lead to continual dissatisfaction, as they blame their demotivation on the job not being right for them.

A second group, dubbed “develop theorists”, hold the contrasting view that a passion for any job can be developed through a learning process. People will start to love their profession more as their skills continually improve.

Chen suggests changing your mindset from “fit” to “develop” can alter your view of work in a positive way, fanning the flames of enthusiasm again: think about when your passion began to fade and try to work out what caused it. Understanding why you feel so dull is the first step to doing something about it.

How can you tackle a lack of motivation?

As well as employees attempting to analyse their own mindset to work out why they’ve lost their verve, employers can play an important role in reigniting passion within the workplace.

As an individual, recognising your personal relevance is a crucial factor when it comes to job satisfaction. Rather than feeling like a small cog in a large wheel, employees need to understand the importance of their own role to the business.

Employers must communicate regularly with each employee to remind them of their relevance to the organisation. Regular appraisals can help an individual feel they are appreciated. This ensures everyone understands their duties and has the chance to discuss any concerns from the viewpoint of both the manager and the employee.

Training programmes are also important, as acquiring new skills and knowledge can reignite a person’s curiosity to learn more. Making progress and mastering challenging tasks is rewarding and helps people to identify further goals. Anyone who’s feeling demotivated can consider ways of growing their skillset and setting new personal challenges.

How do you prevent feeling stressed?

Research has suggested 70% of employees have admitted to feeling stressed at work – another major cause of waning enthusiasm. The majority cite feeling overwhelmed by a heavy workload as the cause.

A technique known as “proximal goal setting” can help. This is something a manager and employee can work out together. Split each project into bite-size tasks, with a clear goal at the end of each section. Completing one task can be done relatively quickly, compared with a large project that may seem never-ending.

If an employer uses small rewards for achieving these goals, it can motivate employees. Enthusiasm is greater if there are multiple, achievable challenges along the way, rather than one long-term goal that may seem impossible to reach if stressed employees are feeling overworked and jaded.

Does work/life balance play an important role?

Just as inflexible working practices were cited as one factor behind the Great Registration, a sensible work/life balance still plays an important role in finding and maintaining your inner spark.

Most people lead busy lives and sometimes, the traditional 9-5 working day, combined with a long commute, lead to extra stress on top of the usual work-related challenges. Flexible working has become increasingly popular since the pandemic, when many people worked from home.

While a home office is undeniably flexible, it can lead to lethargy and a lack of motivation. Distractions such as kids, pets, visitors, the TV and kitchen may not keep that inner spark boosted. This is why businesses are increasingly choosing coworking spaces as a viable alternative to a traditional office.

The coworking market is expected to grow by more than 8% within the next four years, according to the UK Coworking Office Spaces Market Analysis compiled by Mordor Intelligence. The study suggests almost half of British enterprises are planning to reduce their office space, driven by the current economic crisis.

The survey of 1,000 UK business leaders revealed 41% of those planning cutbacks were open to looking at flexible office space as a cheaper alternative. This is not only good news for businesses, but also for employees.

When it comes to finding that inner spark, flexible working is a great way for people to manage their work/life balance – especially when it involves hours that will fit in around other responsibilities, such as childcare.

People who balance work and family life properly can reduce even “chronic stress levels”, according to a report by Understanding Society. Job satisfaction is a major factor when it comes to boosting motivation.

Whether businesses choose coworking spaces as an alternative to traditional offices, or simply rent a meeting room on a more casual basis to escape the daily grind of boardroom gatherings, the change of environment can boost people’s spirits.

Enhancing workplace motivation isn’t an insurmountable challenge. It’s something all businesses should prioritise.



© voronaman / Shutterstock.com

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