Motivation and Productivity


Effects of Low Motivation


What effect does low motivation have on your organisation?

One of the saddest things about working in organisations is often the lack of time and attention that is paid to motivation of the staff by senior and middle managers. It is always one of the non-urgent management functions that can be deferred till later. The net result of this is that motivation becomes not only non-urgent but non-important too.

One of the great laws of the universe is that the visible things depend for their existence on the invisible things. We do not ‘see’ motivation, although we can experience its effects. But because we do not see it – like we see the money in the bank statement, or the widgets on the production line – we discount in some way its importance and consequences.

There are ten major effects of not paying attention to the invisible energy of motivation in your organisation. Check your organisation against these ten points.


Lack of motivation leads to an increase in staff turnover. Statistics vary year on year and within sectors. On average something like 18% staff turnover in the first year are quoted. That represents an enormous expense. For the average operative the cost is over £8K, for managers more like £12K. What is staff turnover costing you?


Low motivation means absence rates go up, which further depresses productivity. But also, it creates further low morale, feeding low energy and low self-esteem. Low self-esteem feeds overall low or under-performance.


While we are busy deploying staff to fill in for those leaving the organisation, and setting up interviewing panels for those about to enter, we find that fire fighting increases. Long term fire fighting leads invariably to health issues because of the stress involved. In other words, health of existing staff goes down; this in turn reinforces points Two and Three.


Our reputation as an organisation plummets. The customers who left at point Six talk about us. Negative PR sets in. It is estimated that the average dissatisfied customer informs at least thirteen other people. Bad news travels!


Our outsourcing costs are going to go up too. Training hasn’t worked, so call in the consultants. This is consultants’ paradise. And it is usually massively disempowering for the senior management as well as the organisation as a whole. The truth is that most consultants know very little about motivation, but quite a bit about processes. There’s the disconnect – these processes require motivated people. 


Productivity goes down. The difference in levels of motivation between your most effective and motivated staff and your least can be sixteen times! How much could you raise the productivity in your organisation by raising motivation?


Recruitment costs go up. This is an inevitable consequence of point One of course. Bear in mind the advertising costs, recruitment agency fees, and the sheer time involved in the selection and interviewing process. Few people really like doing this – it’s a major distraction from the core business of servicing the customers.


Unsurprisingly with all this going on, we start losing customers because the service is poor. This is the beginning of the death of the organisation.


So with all this negativity going on as a result of poor motivation, someone at the top decides the staff who remain need training. Training costs go seriously UP. This sounds good? It might be, but unfortunately most training – which is not compliance, health and safety or technical – is misdirected. We train people on skills, because that is easy; we need to focus on training for motivation. We need a language and measurement for motivation, and most senior managers miss this point. Thus the training falls short of addressing the real issues within the organisation. Motivational Mapping provides that language.


These nine consequences of low motivation lead to blame, despair and loss of self-belief. And then the game is over. 

Where are you with the motivation of your staff? 

How you got a strategic plan to address low motivation? 

How do you stack up against these ten points? 

You know, now is the time to address them. Motivation may be invisible but we can’t live without it. 

10 Effects of Low Motivation is an edited extract from the writings of James Sale 

James Sale FRSA is an inspiring public speaker, writer, business consultant and the creator and licenser of Motivational Maps.

He is a recognised expert on motivation and Motivational Mapping with many years of intensive experience in training and mentoring managers, developing teams and appraisal systems, and creating the conditions for change and growth in organisations through understanding how people are incentivised and optimised. 

Motivational Momentum uses James Sale’s methods with companies, the public sector and individuals to provide insights and improve performance.