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Managing The Unmotivated Employee: Case Study In Medium Size Food Business

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Motivation, as we agreed is one of key factor to drive employees to reach individual work goals and company goals effectively. Motivation could make employees as individual performing their best performance throughout the working process. Besides, motivation could be displayed as efforts individually have (persistence and intensity) to attain any goals. Because it could affect to company’s performance, companies are trying their best to bring out employee’s motivation by using different alternatives from different theories that the managers think would apply the best in their company situation. For example, in the East European countries such as Romania, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and Slovakia have extra wage packages like meal vouchers, private medical services, flexible schedule, training programs, car etc. to gain motivation of their employees.

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Employee engagement, on the other hand, can be defined as persistent positive attitudes the employees have towards their work role that could improve the workplace. Unlike motivation, engagement is not temporary thus it could increase employee’s knowledge and improve work effectiveness. Thus, employee engagement is basically focused on knowledge and expending self-determination towards their works.

Unmotivated employees could be a crucial factor in the company’s performance. There are many theories and practices regarding the solutions of demotivated employees. Some argue that sometimes managers applied the theories about motivation badly and it could lead to short-time, a temporal state of motivation. Based on these theories and practices, notably motivation and engagement, this writing would explore the problem about how to motivate employee resulting a good performance in a small to medium scale of the company without considering a pay raise and finding out the suggestions that might appropriate to that condition.

Unmotivated Employee on Workplace

Hays stated that motivation is hardly described as an exact variable concerning the internal side of individual and people can be unaware regarding their own cause of motivation. Whereas we can expect motivation is possessed by an employee by seeing if the employee is productive, enthusiastic to do their tasks, less complains to take more responsibility, and could spread positive vibrant around the work environment. Basically, motivation can be built by providing what the individual really needs. Refers to many theories about individual needs, let us take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Managers could learn how to make their employees motivated. Many prefer to choose rewards and punishments to compensate their employees and hoping employees to be driven by those. Actually-has have been mentioned before-that motivation is a variable that hard to measure by exact factors, some alternatives might or might not accurately drive their employees motivated. These could cause ineffective motivation methods that lead to the unmotivated employee. Before we discuss more how to motivate the employee, we need to understand better about the unmotivated employee. Roughly, the unmotivated employee can be briefly described as unhappy employees or having no desire towards the task delegated to them. Palpably, the unmotivated employee is a psychological state of the employee having no desire and not mentally driven to achieve goals that have been delegating and caused by factors, might be internally (based on subjectively needs) and externally (environment and financial) that could lead to a decline of performance. Unlike the high motivated employee, unmotivated could be affecting the department’s performance relatively. There are many factors arguably causing a decrease in motivation within employees. Some stated that unmotivated employee occurs because their individual needs left unfulfilled by the company (incentive and secure future) but some explain that employee could be unmotivated by the feeling of fear and frustration so that the employees are having no desire to do things responsibly.

We can assume that feeling employees have is because of how they perceived such negative events that might be processing it as a barrier that is vigorous to be opposed. For example, in a family business, the owner would be bequeathed the ownership to the kids without considering if they might or might not be carried out the business in a good way. This factor could also lead to unmotivated the kids and impacting whole business performance. These are proven, based on Peking University survey result, stating that 80% of potential Chinese were having no desire to take over their parents’ ventures because mostly because it needs no hard work to achieve it. It is also proving that something that would be given easily could be a factor causing unmotivated individual.

After we discussed the generalization about motivation, we are going to discuss specifically the unmotivated employee in practice. There are some cases showing how employee choose to quit their job, even though the wages are indeed sufficient for their monthly needs. Based on the reader experiences through one article from businessinsider. com, one case stating that the employee had everything all the company needs, good work ethics and willing to do all the thing nicely. the manager looked at this employee with a bad motive on his mind, relying on this employee to do all the job, including the manager’s. At first, this employee did it with whole-heartedly. After one accident, which is when the manager scolded this employee because of a time-break this employee took, this employee was furious and quit the job right away. By this example, we could draw a conclusion that unmotivated employee could be made by a bad manager. The frustration that this employee experienced caused a negative impact to the behavior that this employee has at first – good work ethics and work diligently to a worst case that every manager does not want to experience.

Beside bad managing practices, there is another case about how the missing director that respond to the employees’ job could lead to an unmotivated employee – or worse – causing riots within the company. PT. Garuda Indonesia, an aviation company based in Indonesia should experience aviators’ strikes against the removal of their operational director and technical director within the company. The head of Asosiasi Pilot Garuda Indonesia (or Garuda Indonesia Aviator Association) stated that this removal means that there is no person in charge to be responsible in Airport Operating Certificate (AOC) auditing. At that time, Garuda Indonesia supposedly renews their AOC on June 2017 but the process was being withheld due to the removal of the directors as the person in charge of the auditing result. Garuda Indonesia’s CEO Pahala Nugraha rapidly gave the solution. The company replaced the vacant positions. More problem arose. Aviators contend that new directors are not capable to handle technical and operation the company faced because of the lack of knowledge those directors have in the aviation field. Facts, new directors’ background is in financial sectors. This strike induces a decrease in the company stock value of around 38 per cent. We could learn that employees could be unmotivated because of vacant position of authority they need to support their works. Based on the case, the company is using a centralization which is any decision making is centralized to one authority. Wrong decision by one person in charge could lead to a unbalance environment within the company and this case is causing a riot the employees’ made. What is interesting about this case, the news informed that the wrong decision been made by the company as a whole but the problem solving was made only by the CEO. it defines the company wrongdoing accused by the whole company, but the right decision is only made by one point of authority whether the employees who strike also part of the company. We can conclude there is a gap between lower employee level and higher level so there was a failure to communicate in their upward communication system.

Communication also taking a big part of causing employees unmotivated because without a good communication, employees would develop a misunderstanding around the task and company value thus they feel excluded as part of the company.

How To Motivate Employee and Making Employee Engaged in Workplace

We acknowledge that unmotivated employees have a negative impact on the company. As an example, unmotivated employees tend to exhibit bad behavior towards their company. They might not genuinely do their work and performing an average performance or exercise wrongdoing in work environment. These not only affect the company’s performance, but it could also have an impact to the company’s work environment. Managers need to notice if the bad behavior has happened already on work environment and what causing it before it could lead to the company’s failure. One medium sized company in the food retail industry has its manager complain to the senior managers about how employees on selling division performed low performance and causing a decrease in sales. Because of the decreasing income, senior managers may not use a pay raise as their solution to motivate employees. We have comprehended more about unmotivated employee and what is the causal factor of that. We can conclude that the causal factor can be divided by two, intrinsic and extrinsic, which intrinsic is actually about how the employees subjectively interested that might or might not be related to their job and extrinsic about how the company could provide, might be both financial and not financial.

Intrinsic factors are relatively difficult to considerate since it is subjective and every individual is unique. But based on big five personality constructs which is openness, conscientious, extroversion, agreeable and neuroticism managers could design which motivation driver suits the employee condition better. First, managers suggested doing a motivation measurement. We need to remember that motivating people is not as easy as what we think it is. As we already discussed above, motivation is an abstract psychological state of an individual. It is nearly impossible to be exactly right with the motivating plan, but it is possible to picture what is the cause of it and forecasting the reaction after managers executing a motivating plan based on the measurement. In this case, the problem is on the selling division. Based on Peter Fargus in Measuring and Improving Employee Motivation Book, manager could use The BT Multi-National Sales and Service Approach that measuring performance through customer’s view and their motivation factors are Appreciation, Trust, Learning, Fairness, Simplicity, Collaboration, Future Focus, Delivery, Enjoyment, Leadership and Priorities for improvement. These factors can be measured through employee surveys or manager’s assessment.

Performance and Partnership

After the manager already got the result, we can proceed to assess the key points of demotivator. We assume that the selling division employees are unmotivated because of leadership and appreciation factors. After assessing all the factors, managers realized that employees feel unappreciated because their performances are undervalued. They already met the targets before but the company not giving those valuable employees rewards they deserve. If the case is because of the feeling of undervalued, thus manager could be reconsidered about how manager communicated the appreciation and the task better to employees. The manager could conduct a constructive discussion about their performance, giving them an adequate amount of developmental feedback. It is important for a manager to focus on what the employee is best and worst at and giving them commentation regarding that, not only focusing on their personality trait because it would help the employee to develop beyond their usual.

Employee engagement could be made if managers developing a highly motivated employee in the workplace. Employee engagement is a positive attitude by the employee through their performance and having a psychologically attached to the company by its value. An employee who engaged with their job and their company tend to perform good performance willingly. They create a constructive environment in the company. An employee who engage think that company’s value is also theirs. Despite the fact that engagement in a workplace is been made by a highly motivated employee, there is a huge difference between motivation and engagement. Motivation is a temporal state, must be built sustainably to drive employees performing high performance. Employee engagement, on the other hand, is made by the employee own self. Employee engagement requires full direct participation, because employee engagement is about learning and involvement. Another consideration for the manager, engagement would make a better, sustainable impact for productivity and performance rather than motivation does. The most important thing about engagement is learning and participation. Thus manager could put those factors into consideration to help increase productivity and performance in a sustainable way.


The unmotivated employee can be described as an unhappy employee or feeling undesired to do their job, as they are feeling unattached with the job. The unmotivated employee could cause a negative impact within the company because they tend to perform lower than the company expected. Bad performance could lead to a decrease in the company’s result as a whole. Employees can be unmotivated because of their needs left unfulfilled by the company, it could be financial or non-financial, feeling fear of their managers or frustration with the job they have, burnt out, the manager conduct a bad managing practice and miscommunication problem within the organization. We explored medium-sized food business has a problem with their selling division because there is a decrease in their result and manager conclude the employees inside the division are having lack of motivation.

Based on BT MNS&S approach, we measured demotivator factors that might happen in the division. The employee might be feeling a lack of appreciation, having low trust in the company, feeling unfair, the employee can not developing their skill and employee might not feeling attached to the job. The overall suggestion for the problem is the manager should be focusing on how to develop their skill that might be helpful for the company and building a good communication within the division so employees not only feeling motivated but also feeling engaged and contributing to a sustained success in the company.

15 July 2020

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