Motivation Killers: How To Avoid and Counter Them

How to get remote employees motivated is managers’ priority. The problem is that some don’t know how to trigger it effectively. The thing about motivation is, there’s hardly any middle ground. Its absence is unfortunate, but motivation killers are even worse. A lot of leaders seem to come out at the losing end of this equation. This is even truer with remote workers. There is a silver lining though.

You don't need to have the skills of a motivational speaker to be a decent leader. It’s far more important not to kill existing motivation than to able to particularly inspire it. All you need is to know the warning signs, and what not to do. Even better, in time you can apply this knowledge, devising a reverse strategy. Following a few simple rules and offering small employee benefits can substantially reduce the loss of motivation.


False job descriptions

Create a true brand identity as an employer. Shining a flattering light on your company to attract customers is one thing. When remote employment is concerned, transparency is the name of the game. The fewer surprises, the better. It's harder for remote employees to pre-assess a company from a distance. They might end up feeling deceived. Not to mention you might not get the kind of employees that serve your interests as well. A lose-lose situation. One in which low motivation might not even be your biggest concern.



Having a structure is fundamental for any business. When the plan turns into a dull routine though, is when motivation starts to fade. Remote employees might feel that everything is predetermined. They do a good job – so what? They do a bad job – so what? Remote employees can start taking their job for granted. That is a synonym for loss of motivation.

You need to give recognition for good work. Make remote employees’ contribution palpable. Show them their work drives the company forward. Nothing kills motivation more than making good ideas disappear along the corporate ladder. 

Nobody likes to think they are merely a pawn. This happens more easily in remote employment. Make remote employees feel appreciated. Emphasize what actions and attitude you value and look for in your workforce. Notice their contributions, good or bad. Handle the latter with caution. 

Discuss negatives in private, with a delicate approach. Starting off on a positive note sets a constructive tone. Don't solely point the finger at your remote employee. Point towards where the problem occurred. Offer feedback and constructive criticism. This will help remote workers not take the matter personally and strive to improve. This way you can avoid one of the strongest motivation killers.


Lack of growth opportunities

This is monotony’s evil brother. Most remote employees want to grow. The ones who don’t are probably not very good. Nothing kills motivation more than perceiving a job as a dead end. Showing you can provide them with something more than paychecks turns you into something more than an employer. 

This way you can form an emotional connection as well. The feeling that both parties are working towards something together induces motivation. Growth opportunities that can increase remote employees’ market value are great job perks. It might end up costing you some quality talent, but it will help develop much more in the long run. 


Closed culture

Remote employees tend to look for a certain level of flexibility. You as the boss are the one who is going to determine its level. Shutting it down completely, though, isn’t the right strategy. 

Suppressing remote employees is equal to blocking motivation. Remote employees need to adjust to your company culture and operational model. This doesn’t mean there can’t be some leeway for individuality. Allowing individuality will make them feel more valuable, rather than just another brick in the wall. 


Decentralization of information

When it comes to customer services, remote employment can be very delicate. Some workers might have a lot of insight into a particular type of customer. Since they work remotely though, an isolation of information might occur. This can put your whole operational model off balance. 

New employees might not know how to handle accounts. You need to make sure all customer-relevant information is centralized and shared. You can create chats and discussion boards, schedule regular conference calls. Customer demands need to be highlighted and coordinated among all remote employees. 

Consistency is crucial to any operational model and especially customer service. This is even truer with sales. Lacking the chance to handle accounts causes loss of motivation.


Not knowing who to turn to

Remote employment often leads to feelings of isolation. Skype, conference calls, and video chats can ease their loneliness. More importantly, though, you need to make clear who they can turn to for different issues. 

Explain from the get-go which manager can help them resolve which type of situations. Ask them now and then if they are struggling with something. Some managers even provide technical assistance and financing for technical issues with equipment. This is just like an office that needs to ensure proper tools to its workers. When remote employees feel they miss out on perks of a regular job, their motivation starts to drop. Employee benefits directly influence their motivation.

Try to be as accommodating to holidays as possible. You can keep in mind the physical spaces your remote employees inhabit. Encourage them to let you know in advance of any upcoming holidays in their place of residence. Giving them such days off whenever possible will increase their overall morale. Not only, but it will also be a grand gesture, and ultimately – a motivation booster. 

Motivating remote employees isn’t an exact science. Avoiding motivation killers can be much more straightforward. With some practice, it can turn into sparking motivation as well.

At DistantJob, managing remote employees and their motivation is our specialty. Get in touch!

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Petar Petrov

Petar Petrov

Petar Petrov is a freelance writer who works with DistantJob to research and synthesise the best remote work related content into practical, accurate and actionable guides and articles on how to improve remote leadership and better manage your teams.