One reason why the motivation level falls in a workplace may be the temporariness of the job. The prospect of unemployment after the completion of the project may vitiate the focus and motivation of the workforce, howsoever, well paid they may be. A comparatively lower yet assured income for a longer period is much more welcome than a higher salary for a shorter term.
An important factor that determines the motivation level is the element of challenge. When confronted with a challenge, the survival instinct called flight or fight comes into action. Our defense mechanism becomes ultra activated and triggers us to act in face of challenges. We either run away from the challenging situation out of flight or fight against it by taking it up vigorously head on. A challenge to the survival instinct quite often turns even the mediocres into heroes. There are stories of disabled persons running for life when they find themselves facing the life and death situation during the accidents like fire.
The challenge itself during such situation acts as a fierce motivator.
There may be similar situations involving challenge where even the strong willed and able bodied people give up. When the level of difficulty or the challenge becomes too high or is perceived impossible, even the well qualified and efficient team loses motivation at the workplace.
Conversely, even the mediocre workers lose interest, if the level of difficulty is too low or easy and its implementation is not sufficiently challenging. So it is important for the management to create a worthy and a balanced challenge mechanism to stimulate the workers to keep moving to attain a sense of accomplishment after the completion of the project.
A situation may arise when a worker or the whole team may sometime intentionally become slack or even strike work and no amount of threat to their livelihood can induce them to work with motivation and enthusiasm. Quite possibly some action or policy by the management may have clashed with the fundamental beliefs and ideals of the employees. A Hindu soldier or that matter a Muslim may prefer to die rather than accept high rewards and appreciation for attacking a temple or a mosque.
Quite often we are told that the needs and wants are the great motivation drivers for the workers. People work to satiate their hunger and nourish themselves. But the same people take to hunger strike and refuse to eat. In such situations a higher need or want takes over. It is the need to make a point about an issue which assumes greater importance and becomes larger than the life itself.
A spirit of fellowship, equality and camaraderie where the members of a team like each other and enjoy working together strengthens the sense of loyalty and the unity of purpose.
The team of workers should be entrusted with responsibility and power to accomplish a task. These two elements tend to sustain the motivation at a higher level over a long period. But again, maintaining a healthy balance between the two elements is a tricky affair. If a worker is asked to accomplish a job with a threatening responsibility accompanied with dire consequences, he may either run away from it or overact out of fear and thus defeat the purpose of his deployment.
Responsibility involving punishment for mistakes is a negative motivator. The fear of consequences can only be a short term motivator, but its sustained use may threaten the person away from the work itself. It is difficult to maintain a high level of performance when the whole energy required to perform is sapped and vitiated by the fear.
The environment at workplace should be conducive for learning new skills, concepts, experience and knowledge. Personal growth ensures brighter future prospects. The opportunities of advancement of knowledge impart a value addition– in form of self esteem and self worth– to the routine rewards and remuneration and enhance the level of motivation.