The motivation drop: how to deal with the apathetic employee


There are several techniques you could try to boost personal motivation among your teammates. Some are popular, some are dramatic and provocative, each and every one of them works only in specific timing and only in one particular team. So, choose wisely.


Positive reinforcement

Motivating an apathetic employee requires a delicate and personal approach. You always have the option to use either positive or negative reinforcement. Let’s go over a few examples of positive reinforcement: give the employee new and productive tasks; praise the employee for his achievements; encourage success by offering additional bonuses.

For positive reinforcement, you can also provide your employees with additional training to increase their skills. This can lead to higher productivity and more possibilities for promotion. Providing new technologies to assist the employee with his work is another useful motivation tool. Rewarding workers for their hard work through events such has corporate parties has also proven effective.


Negative reinforcement

This type of reinforcement is not ideal, but sometimes it is necessary. Negative reinforcement can take on the form of probation, fines and other sanctions. In the short term, negative reinforcement can be effective. If you apply these methods regularly, you will leave your team in a constant state of fear. Too much negative reinforcement can backfire.

When all of the the negativity and stagnation is coming from just one person, these methods usually don’t work and can even be harmful:

  1. Increasing salary: This might convince the employee to stay in the company for a while, but overall job satisfaction and enthusiasm won’t be affected.
  2. Adding fines: This is just an extra reason to take offense and leave.
  3. Assigning dull tasks: Nothing can be worse than giving an apathetic employee boring and unimportant tasks.

It’s always better to rely on positive reinforcement more than negative. Here are some more positive methods that can help an apathetic employee out and increase his interest in work: assign interesting tasks that require ever increasing responsibility and personal involvement; encourage participation in conferences; develop an understandable system of bonuses.

Ideally, the potential size of a bonus has no limit. This provides employees with an equally unlimited opportunity and can increase motivation, involvement and efficiency.


Don’t forget to keep yourself motivated

  • Don’t spread the boredom: It will start to spread and once it does, coworkers will start to disengage.
  • Take on unique projects: Doing something you don’t typically do can help lighten up your attitude. It helps force you to step out of the same boring routine.
  • Learn something: Take a class that will help support your job performance. Learning is not only motivating, but it’s also an activity that stimulates the use of unfamiliar territories in the brain.
  • Monitor your daily performance: Make sure you keep an eye on your work performance every day. It may require a bit more time and energy, but this will encourage self-improvement.
  • “Act” your way through the day: Think of how an engaged person would behave. You need to do things like ask questions, follow up on details, and echo positive sentiments about the outcomes of various tasks and projects.
  • Watch your office hours. You should still only make subtle changes to your hours. Don’t suddenly go from a 60-hour workweek down to a 39.5-hour workweek. This will look strange to coworkers and can unintentionally paint a negative picture.
  • Watch what you say to yourself. Our brains are very powerful. They can convince us of almost anything. You need to be very careful as to what you are thinking and repeating to yourself. While you may truly be bored or lack interest, don’t dwell on it. You will only deteriorate the situation.



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