How To Demotivate Your Employees

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John Waldron

Dec 7, 2015 • 8 min read

Do you love your job?

As a manager or CEO, you’re probably more than happy with your pay cheque at the end of the month – but does this really equate to happiness? It’s a serious question, though one that you may very well find yourself too busy to answer.

Your employees, on the other hand, will clock in at 9 and out again at 5. Sure, you keep them busy throughout the day – productivity, after all, is the primary element in the profitability equation – but, with less responsibility there is more time to ponder one’s role in the office. And so the question really shouldn’t be whether or not you love your job, but whether your employees love theirs?

Unhappy employees = demotivated employees.

Demotivated employees = unproductive employees.

Unproductive employees = an unprofitable workforce.

An unprofitable workforce = shrinking CEO pay cheques.

Money isn’t everything, of course, but business is business. Each and every one of us have to work for a living, and if we’re not happy in our work, then we are not experiencing life as we should be, and the businesses that we run and/or work for suffer as a result.

Indeed, demotivation is a real problem in the global workforce. As noted in a previous blog post, the International New York Times cites research that estimates employee unhappiness is costing upwards of $300 billion every year in lost productivity in the US alone.

So, what’s causing all of this demotivation and downright unhappiness? This is indeed an extremely pressing question that all top companies should be asking themselves. Here at Netguru we make identifying the causes of demotivation one of our topmost considerations, and we’re happy to pass on what we’ve learned.

What makes employees demotivated?

Lack of Confidence in the CEO

A great team needs a great leader. But a lead is only ever truly great when s/he realises that s/he doesn’t always know best. Indeed, a truly great leader will have picked out truly great employees that can be absolutely trusted to make the right decisions and give the best advice. The all-guns-blazing, my way or the highway CEOs very rarely inspire motivation within their team. In fact, the very opposite is often true – when there begins to mount a general distrust of a leader’s methods and direction, then subversion will soon follow.

As George Anders writes in Forbes:

“bosses who inspire confidence, who show faith in their employees, and who communicate an inspiring vision […] are rewarded with a workforce that is ready to get things done.”


Micromanagers can really get under the skins of employees. There’s nothing worse when trying to do your job – which you’re perfectly capable of doing – to have someone breathing down your neck the whole time, trying to control your process. When CEOs or managers start to do this, employees feel like they are not trusted, and that inevitably triggers disengagement and apathy towards the job at hand.

Lack of Planning and Prioritizing

Uncertainty can prove to be the bane of many a workplace. Workers need to know exactly what they’re doing, and to have plenty of time to do it. Unreasonable deadlines – both too long and too short – can lead to lack of motivation, for they will either engender a culture of twiddling thumbs or a super-stressed workforce which never has enough time to do things well. Planning your project and prioritising is extremely important for a motivated workforce – without these things, chaos inevitably ensues and nothing gets done.


Lack of communication. This really is one of the biggest causes for an unproductive and apathetic team. Indeed, without full transparency of communication, certain members of the team who get left ‘out of the loop’ in conversations can begin to feel devalued. This is unacceptable, for every member of a team has a vital role to play in making the business run smoothly – and without transparency an atmosphere of petty competitiveness can begin to rear its ugly head.

Lack of Feedback and Rewards

Feedback is one of the most important elements of a motivated, productive team. Without clear feedback channels, employees are at risk of airing their concerns ‘informally’, which can lead to a bad atmosphere in the office. Rewards are also great motivators – and it doesn’t have to be much. CEOs should not be shy of praising good work, and sometimes treating the team to a pizza on Friday will work wonders for morale – especially if it’s been a particularly tough week.

Lack of Clear Career Path

We all like to know where we’re going in life. Indeed, we all need to know that we’ve got somewhere to go. Sure, your employee may be quite happy in their current role – but are they really going to feel the same a couple of years down the line? No, they’re probably not, and without a clear pathway to move on to bigger and better things within your business, then there are plenty of head-hunters out there who’ll be able to tempt your employees along to theirs.

Lack of Work-Life Balance

A good employee will be willing to go the extra mile for the company. And when they do, you should reward them. But, if you’re running your business effectively, then there shouldn’t be a need for employees to have to put in extra hours on a regular basis. Indeed, if the pressure is mounting up to the point where there is no option but to ask your staff to put in continuous overtime, then you can quickly expect to see quality of work drop as professional burnout occurs, and after that, you will struggle to lift the morale of your team perhaps indefinitely. Remember, when staff are clocking out late, you’re eating away at their ‘real’ life. People, generally, work to live rather than live to work. When this becomes unbalanced, then demotivation will prevail.

Why You'll Love Working at Netguru

Here at Netguru we know the difference between a motivated and a demotivated team. Indeed, we know the causes of demotivation and constantly strive to engender the cures. We believe in full transparency around the office – which includes transparent remuneration – and always aim for an employee-friendly environment, with great equipment, clear career paths, and an emphasis on communication. We’ve even written a dedicated blog post detailing all the things you'll love about working at Netguru – give it a read, we think you’ll be convinced.

Are you feeling demotivated at your current post? Perhaps you’re looking for an exciting new opportunity. Well, if this sounds like you, then you’ll be pleased to hear that Netguru are hiring now!

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John Waldron

John Waldron is a technology and business writer for markITwrite digital content agency, based in...
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