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Every organization strives for upward growth. This is, however, primarily due to a stable and motivated workforce. Occasionally, employees may underperform, not provide quality work, be disengaged, or be indisciplined. This does not mean they lack ability. It’s just that they lack motivation at that time, and it’s our responsibility as an organization to help them and inculcate the feelings of employee motivation.

Supporting employees ?‍? in times of need will go a long way to ensuring a loyal workforce in the future. In this article, we will take you through various employee motivation strategies you can implement.

Ways to take care of an underperforming employee

nick splat employee GIF by Hey Arnold

Motivated employees are proven to be more productive, and higher ? productivity leads to higher revenues. It is also always a team effort. Whenever one team member lags behind, the whole project cycle suffers. Hence, it is crucial to take care of each other and move forward together. Below are some methods you can use for motivating employees under adverse circumstances

Be a leader

The employees need to know what the vision of the company is and what is expected of them. This will enable them to work toward those goals. Therefore, as a leader, set clear goals for each step and communicate them. Additionally, if they are unclear still, be a mentor and guide them. A good leader recognizes when employees are suddenly underperforming. By doing so, he or she can take action immediately. Make sure you maintain confidentiality and make it a one-on-one conversation.

Be a listener

An old saying goes: every good conversation starts with a good ?listener. This becomes even more important when someone lacks motivation. Empathizing with your employees gives them a sense of belonging and trust. The more they open up, the more you will understand the reason for their lack of motivation, and only then can you find solutions. You won’t know where to begin until you understand what the problem is. However, you mustn’t ambush them with an emotional confrontation.

Coordinate an action plan with the employee

Involving employees in their own performance goals is one of the best ways to motivate them. Develop an action plan together. Ask them what their current issues are, what support they need from you or the team members, or if they need some additional training to accomplish their tasks efficiently. Engage them in the process and get their opinion. They will feel confident and be motivated to perform better as a result.

Periodic follow-ups

If you believe that your role ends after you put together the action plan, you are certainly mistaken. You need to follow up regularly with your employee. You can ask them how their work is going and whether they can cope better after the changes. Make sure to ask them how they are feeling as well. Sometimes, it is the external factors that are hampering the employee’s performance. A constant flow of feedback and discussions help an employer not only increase employee motivation but also improve their job satisfaction.

Encourage teamwork

Encouraging teamwork within an organization helps create strong working relationships. There are times when employees are hesitant to approach their boss for fear of being judged based on their performance and capabilities. Yet, they will be able to talk freely with their peers and ask for their help as well. Having a supportive team that communicates well and trusts each other builds a positive work environment.

Appreciate progress

Incentives or rewards can be a major motivator for employees. It doesn’t matter how small progress may be, make sure you recognize it and express appreciation to the employee. This will instill confidence in them. Also, recognition need not be extravagant. It could be as simple as an extra day off, recognizing their performance in front of their peers, and so on. Even simply taking them out for coffee ☕ will be a great deal for them. This appreciation will make them continue making improvements.


In some cases, absenteeism, lack of motivation, and low performance may be caused by factors outside the workplace. This may include financial difficulties, relationship issues, and illness ? in the family. It is also possible for employees to get so involved in their work that they cannot balance work and personal life. As a result, they get stressed, which negatively impacts their work. In such cases, you can refer them to a counselor and other mental health support resources your organization might have. If necessary, you can even suggest taking some time off to recover.

Create opportunities

When employees are given repetitive, monotonous tasks every day, they tend to lose motivation. If they are not passionate about their jobs, they will not put as much effort into their performance. How should you respond in such cases? You can sit down with them and discuss their long-term career goals. After that has been discussed, present them with exciting opportunities to challenge themselves. Sometimes, a change is all the motivation the employees need to do their best. 

Be patient

Last but not least, remember that nothing happens overnight. A person who is underperforming now was once a capable, bright employee you hired. Hence, sometimes it is necessary to be patient and give them a little push. As soon as you see them performing slightly better, you can let go of the supervision as well. By doing this (employee motivation), they will become more confident and accountable for their work.

In a Nutshell

Hopefully, after reading the above article, you will have a few ideas on how to engage your employees and keep them motivated. A company’s employees are its greatest asset. According to the survey, organizations with highly engaged teams are 14% to 18% more productive than those with less engaged teams. Furthermore, teams with lower engagement also experience higher turnover.

Images: GIPHY

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