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The Influence of Motivation in the Workplace

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

Motivation can have a substantial influence on how people interact and go about their day-to-day tasks in the workplace. Motivation affects our willingness to do tasks, and the amount of satisfaction we retrieve from doing them. However, before looking at how to increase workplace motivation, we must first understand what causes decreases. Sounds like a topic of interest to you? Keep reading to learn more.

What Causes Low Motivation?

There are a variety of factors that can cause low motivation, and here we will take a look at a few. It also varies from employee to employee, at differing levels. For instance, one employee may lack motivation for a task they do not find interesting while another lacks motivation since they feel they lack the skills to complete it.

One reason an employee may lack motivation is because they feel they do not have the skills necessary to complete a task. However, just because they feel they lack the skills, that does not mean they actually do. They may just be intimidated by the challenging nature of the task, and the best ways to approach it.

Employees may also be unmotivated on the basis of their mood. Perhaps something happened outside of work that is contributing to their negative emotions toward a project, or they have some anxiety in regards to how to approach the task. Whatever the root of the issue may be, it is important for employers to act as support for employees to help determine if there are any underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Another reason employees may feel unmotivated is because they do not find the task interesting enough. This could be because of the nature of the task, such as being too mundane or repetitive. This is not always the case, it could also be because the task does not help the employee develop their skills in desired areas.

Building Employee Motivation

Now that we have looked at some reasons that can cause low employee motivation, it is time to look at ways to improve it. There are several approaches to go about doing this, and it will vary from person to person. That is why it may take a few strategies to get the one that works best for your workplace right. Especially with some employees working in remote environments, a lot of these strategies can also be catered to meet the needs of those employees.

Feedback, Feedback, Feedback!

One thing we value here at Retainify is the value of feedback. Feedback can substantially impact how an employee functions in their role, makes decisions, and works with others in the workplace. It is essential for not only building confidence, but also building reassurance that it can make a positive difference when mistakes are made. According to Forbes, when feedback is done right, this can result in a 2.5x increase in motivation among employees (Skilbeck).

Forbes also suggests that opposed to giving one-dimensional feedback, such as “Great work!”, managers should give feedback that has layers to it. In other words, feedback should be given in a way that also gives room for improvement or reinforces specific aspects of the task that were satisfactory.

Positive & Negative Contributors

According to research, there are factors that can positively or negatively influence one’s motivation in the workplace. Three positive factors outlined in the research are “potential”, “purpose”, and “play”. The three negative factors outlined include “economic pressure”, “inertia”, and “emotional pressure”. To learn more about each of these motivational factors read below.

As mentioned previously, there are three positive factors. The first one is “potential”. According to HBR, potential applies to how certain work accomplishments affect your reputation or standing as an employee (Doshi & McGregor). Next is purpose, which reflects the alignment of your work tasks with your values, beliefs, and goals as an individual (Doshi & McGregor). The last positive factor is play, which ultimately affects your overall motivation to complete and achieve work goals (Doshi & McGregor).

Then there are the negative motivational factors. The first one is the effects of economic pressures. This factor is known to lower motivation since typically employees in this position are not necessarily working for enjoyment but rather for financial stability, for example (Doshi & McGregor). Inertia occurs when someone has lost all attachment or meaning to their work tasks (Doshi & McGregor). They may not find it very fulfilling and may have a difficult time staying motivated doing something they do not understand the purpose of (Doshi & McGregor). The last negative factor is emotional pressure, which can either be a result of internal or external pressures (Doshi & McGregor). People experiencing emotional pressure in the workplace may only be working at their job because of some emotional obligation imposed by themselves or others (Doshi & McGregor).

The Takeaway

Of course, there are many ways to approach the issue of motivation in the workplace. These are only some of the factors to look out for, and strategies to implement. Each workplace is unique and as a result, different strategies may be required to tailor the situation. Regardless of the strategy chosen, it is important for employers to always be wary of motivational influences that affect their employees at a personal and professional level.


  1. Cable, D. (2018, March 12). Why people lose motivation – and what managers can do to help. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from

  2. Clark, R. & Saxberg, B. (2019, March 13). 4 reasons good employees lose their motivation. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from

  3. Doshi, N. & McGregor, L. (2015, November 25). How company culture shapes employee motivation. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from

  4. Doshi, N. & McGregor, L. (2020, April 9). How to keep your team motivated, remotely. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from

  5. Herzberg, F. (2003, January). One more time: how do you motivate employees? Retrieved January 12, 2022, from

  6. Schindler, J. (2019, December 16). Employee motivation: it really does matter. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from

  7. Seppälä, E. (2016, January 4). To motivate employees, do 3 things well. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from

  8. Skilbeck, R. (2021, March 23). 7 strategies for maintaining employee motivation when remote. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from

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