Blog Post

Office Hours: How Do You Motivate Unmotivated Employees?

Cornerstone Editors

This post is part of our biweekly "Office Hours" video series, featuring quick career, workplace and leadership tips from talent management experts and business leaders across the globe.

Since Gallup began measuring employee engagement 17 years ago, it has remained at 33 percent in the U.S. The figure is even more dismal for employees worldwide: 15 percent. A disengaged employee lacks the motivation to do their best work and can end up being a drag on the organizations productivity.

So, how do you engage an unmotivated employee? Jeff Miller, senior director of talent management at Cornerstone, gets this question all the time. And it's a tough one to answer, in part because as a psychologist, he knows everyone is motivated by something.

That's right: Unmotivated employees don't exist. The challenge is identifying what does motivate your employees, and channeling those motivations in the direction that most benefits your organization. In this video, Miller shares three steps to building a motivated workforce.

It starts by changing what you can control: the work environment. Rather than force people to change their behavior, create a work environment that challenges, encourages and engages.

Next, listen to what your employees have to say—and that doesn't mean just nodding along while scrolling through unread messages. Put your devices away and give the employee your undivided attention.

Lastly, understand that everyone, even the least productive employee, is motivated—but perhaps not in the way you expect. As a leader, it's your job to measure the pulse of the work environment and make adjustments that incentivize the behaviors you deem most important.

Photo: Creative Commons

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