Six signs your employee is lacking motivation and may be about to quit

We all want our staff to be happy and content at work, however some workplace cultures might just not be the right fit for someone, no matter how great the benefits you provide and how much you do to provide a great work environment.

It is important to realise that real engagement means different things for different people. 

However, one thing can become pretty clear in a team — when someone is disengaged, losing motivation and may be on the verge of quitting. 

Recognising and addressing early warning signs of a lack of motivation can be critical in changing the trajectory of the path of an employee, before it’s too late. 

If you are worried that one of your staff members has started to disengage and may be considering leaving your business, here are a few symptoms you can observe.

1. Absenteeism or being late 

A tell-tale sign someone is disengaging is when there is a lack of physical presence at the workplace. This can take the form of regularly calling in sick, taking days off or consistently being late for work. 

Is a staff member regularly having ‘traffic’ issues, or ongoing reasons for skipping work? Although there could be very valid personal reasons for taking time off, it could also mean an employee simply ‘doesn’t want to be there’.

2. Zoning out in meetings or withdrawing from contributing 

Does your staff member seem to be mentally ‘checked out’? They may have already signed out in their minds, and even though they are still physically there, they have already quit. 

Zoning out in meetings or team contributions is a symptom of distancing, when a decision has already been made to leave the organisation. 

They may also rarely contribute ideas or information in meetings and take a back seat.

3. Shying away from responsibility 

Disengaged employees generally won’t step up to responsibility and are happy to ‘be a wallflower’, slipping under the radar.

They may be delivering the ‘bare-minimum’ of work and seem to be showing up to work for the sake of just ‘being there’ to collect a pay check. 

They aren’t forthcoming with putting their hand up for extra projects or pushing too far outside of their comfort zone.

4. Missed deadlines 

What may have once been a studious and reliable employee, has now been showing signs of inconsistency, unreliability and… missed deadlines. 

Not fulfilling or completing a task on time can be telling of a staff member’s productivity levels. A lack of productivity is often a common byproduct of disengagement and dissatisfaction.

5. Apathetic behaviour

Have you noticed a sudden shift in attitude in your staff member? 

What may have once been an eager, willing and enthusiastic team member, has now become confrontational, short-tempered and unforgiving. 

This shift in behaviour is a sure sign that something has gone awry and the overall attitude towards their work has changed. 

6. Other people are quitting or leaving 

When there’s a broader culture issue in your business, or something fundamentally going wrong across the team, you may notice a higher turnover rate of other staff.

If you have noticed this as an ongoing pattern, and other staff have also become disengaged, some further investigating may be necessary. 

Staff can become disengaged or unmotivated if there is a bully on the team, they feel undervalued, or something has made them question their alignment with the company values or overall purpose. 

So, what can I do as a business owner then? 

Here are a couple of things you can consider to address such situations.

  1. Have an open conversation and communicate your observations to the staff member. Share your concern for them and whether your perceptions are accurate, or if there’s something else going on. 
  2. Ask them how they think they are going at work and what support they might need.
  3. The question “Are you okay?” can go a long way. It may be a personal issue that simply requires some understanding and empathy. 
  4. Are they clear on their role and responsibilities? 
  5. Ask them what makes a job fulfilling to them. 

Having some challenges with disengaged staff? Send me a message via email or LinkedIn about what’s going on to see how Bespoke HR may be able to assist.