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Impact of Unmotivated Employees on Organizational Success

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 1964 words Published: 14th May 2019

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Leaders must be on guard for unmotivated employees as the organization’s failure or success can be linked to employee motivation. In today’s dynamic and rapidly changing healthcare environment the cost of unmotivated employees is significant to organizations that strive for excellence. As hospitals and health systems make the shift to value-based care and a focus on quality, employee engagement is more imperative than ever. According to Horrigan (2013), only 30 percent of employees are engaged and inspired at work. Absent or unfocused employees result in lost revenue, reduced productivity, unnecessary employee turnover, a negative organizational culture and poor patient satisfaction. Employee motivation is a major component of organizational success. This assignment will discuss this multifaceted problem and examine how leaders can implement organizational change to motivate, empower and engage staff.

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Organizational Problem

People in every single organization have different personalities, attitudes, beliefs, and values. Therefore, as leaders, we must utilize different approaches to motivate them.People choose to enter a career based on their personal interests, preferences, and evaluation of opportunities (Porter- O’Grady, 2015). Employees initially invest in their success and select an opportunity that aligns with their needs and goals. When the employment opportunity is not congruent with their interest’s employees are often unsatisfied and ineffective in their career.  Additionally, many careers such as nursing have high rates of burn out due to lack of autonomy, heavy caseloads, inadequate salaries and frequent conflict. Many employees also do not understand the significance of their role within the organization. Not understanding the organizational vision, mission, and goals or having a having a lack of congruence with the values or mission fit can be detrimental to the organization’s success.

Managing unmotivated employees with less than optimal work performance can be time-consuming to a leader. These are the employees that are always late, put in the bare minimum effort and constantly complain. This behavior if unaddressed causes resentment amongst the rest of the team. Often employees are not engaged in the workplace because they do not comprehend the significance of their role in the organization or the importance of the work they are performing. One of the most important functions a leader performs is motivating and engaging employees.  Conrad, Ghosh & Issacson (2015) suggest that there are three things people seek from their work- equity- to be respected and treated fairly; achievement – to be proud of one’s job, accomplishments, and employer; and camaraderie – to have good, productive relationships with fellow employees. The environment that leaders create to motivate and engage employees must be one that is constructive to positive energy. When the leader fails to establish this environment a dysfunctional organizational culture arises which promotes unmotivated employees.

On an annual basis, hospitals with the least engaged nurses pay $1.1 million more in malpractice claims than those with the most engaged nurses (Decker, Mitchell, & Rabat-Torki, 2016). The cost associated with unmotivated employees is not only financial but can be cultural, emotional, psychological, spiritual or physical. Organizations must consider the costs are associated with employee turnover and dissatisfaction and develop a process to improve employee engagement.

Organizational Theory

One theory applicable to the management of unmotivated employees is the contingency theory. This theory asserts that managers make decisions based on the situation at hand rather than a one size fits all method. The contingency theory also suggests that there is not just one right way to lead and influence and the leadership style must be matched with various situations. The leadership style is dependent upon the nature of the situation or task (Hoffman-Miller, 2013).  As with the management of unmotivated employees, the lack of motivation can be multifactorial. Unmotivated employees can be present due to a lack of respect, abuse of power, poor attitudes and powerlessness to name a few. According to Boehe (2016), the contingency approach is defined as identifying and developing functional relationships between environmental, management and performance variables. As motivation of an employee can be individual to each one, the leader’s style must be congruent to the situation.  If the leader’s style is not consistent with the situation, generalizations can be made about his or her effectiveness. An organizational culture that fosters employee engagement through recognition and achievement can be accomplished through application of the contingency theory. To mitigate the negative impact of unmotivated employees the leader must use a variety of skills to engage and motivate the workforce.

Organizational Change

Motivation has been defined by Conrad, Ghosh & Isaacson (2015) as the psychological process that gives behavior purpose and direction; a predisposition to behave in a purposive manner to achieve specific, unmet needs. When employees are actively disengaged or unmotivated they tend to drag other employees down with them. Stoyanova & Iliev (2017) describes employee engagement as a personal sense of purpose and focus of energy, personal initiative and efforts to achieve organizational goals. Employee motivation and engagement can be linked to job satisfaction and productivity.

One technique organizations can use to create motivated employees is employee engagement. Fostering employee engagement will add value to the patient experience and the success of the organization as a whole (Decker, Mitchell & Rabat- Torki, 2016). Creating a team atmosphere through employee engagement can be cultivated by acknowledging that mistakes happen and utilizing the situation as a learning opportunity. With the learning opportunity, the leader can focus on implementing steps to further avoid repeated mistakes through collaboration and feedback from the team. Employees that are connected to the team of people they are working with have healthy communication patterns that allow them to accept and apply constructive feedback, express fears doubts, ask questions and participate creatively with other employees and the manager.

Consistent and timely communication from the leader with the team regarding goals that need to be accomplished and empowerment of employees to reach those goals improvement engagement. According to Stoyanova & Iliev (2017), young people expect to have open and honest communication with the leaders of the company. Employees that understand why the business exists and what the goals are that need to be accomplished are more likely to work harder to achieve the goals when they know what their contribution means to the success of the organization. Establishing a clear and well-communicated vision based on core values and recognizing behavior in employees that support the organization’s vision provides employees a sense of meaning and purpose in their jobs and allows employees to take ownership of their role in achieving outcomes.  Setting clear expectations, with clear goals along with the time and resources to achieve the expected results can empower employees to contribute to their team’s success. As a leader, showing appreciation and recognition to employees for a job well done is underutilized. Reinforcing positive behavior and rewarding good performance through appreciation costs the organization very little but provides a considerable payback.

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Investing in employees through staff development with coaching and mentoring is important to cultivating trust with the leader. Investing in the employee’s professional goals through offering continual learning opportunities not only increases the depth of knowledge in the employee but also improves patient outcomes and establishes a healthy, trusting employer-employee relationship. Employee development assists organizations to grow and employees to remain engaged by removing the sense of complacency and allowing them to grow in their jobs.

Lastly, creating a sense of belonging through team building activities can strengthen bonds among employees on the team and lower the risk of conflict or misunderstanding. According to Taylor (2015), individuals strive for a sense of purposefulness and meaningfulness in life. In an environment when employees have a mental and emotional connection to those, they work closely with engagement and motivation to achieve outcomes is improved. 

Implementing these changes within an organization is not an easy task and requires a concerted effort from multiple layers of the organization. Creating an atmosphere of employee engagement requires a daily effort from the CEO to the nurse manager to be attuned to their employee’s behavior and proactively implement the discussed strategies. Failure of organizational leaders to develop and implement a strategic plan using these deliberate components produce the negative consequences associated with unmotivated employees.


Motivation is not a result of one preferred “one size fits all” management approach but rather, a systemic discovery and assessment by management of motivation needs and wants and fulfillment of various crucial motivation elements (Conrad, Ghosh & Isaascson, 2015). Leaders that are perceptive to their employee’s behavior and the dynamics influencing their behavior can implement organizational change to improve motivation and engagement. Organizations with employees that are entirely engaged have higher levels of employee retention, reduced turnover, improved performance and better outcomes due to improved communication, teamwork and culture that empowers employees.


  •  Boehe, D. M. (2016). Supervisory styles: a contingency framework. Studies In Higher Education41(3), 399-414.
  • Conrad, D., Ghosh, A., & Isaacson, M. (2015). Employee motivation factors. International Journal Of Public Leadership11(2), 92. doi:10.1108/IJPL-01-2015-0005
  • Decker, P., Mitchell, J., & Rabat-Torki, J. (2016). The value of employees in a value-based care system. Healthcare Financial Management: Journal Of The Healthcare Financial Management Association70(3), 62-66.
  • Hassan, G., & Reza Ghaffari, T. (2013). A study on effective factors on employee motivation. Management Science Letters, Vol 3, Iss 6, Pp 1511-1520 (2013), (6), 1511. doi:10.5267/j.msl.2013.05.043
  • Hoffman-Miller, P. M. (2013). Contingency theory. Salem Press Encyclopedia
  • Horrigan, G. (2013). Transforming Unmotivated Employees. Collector (0010082X)79(3), 22-24.
  • Porter-O’Grady, T., & Malloch, K. (2015). Quantum leadership: building better partnerships for sustainable health (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  • Stoyanova, T., & Iliev, I. (2017). Employee Engagement Factor for Organizational Excellence. International Journal Of Business & Economic Sciences Applied Research10(1), 23-29.
  • Taylor, B. M. (2015). The Integrated Dynamics of Motivation and Performance in the Workplace. Performance Improvement54(5), 28-37. doi:10.1002/pfi.21481


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