More employees no longer willing to go extra yard

Stephen Murphy employee town hall
More employees are doing less rather than excelling.

Employees are pulling back when it comes to going out of their way for employers.

The willingness to put in extra effort took a tumble in a survey by Gartner that found a 4 percentage point drop by those willing to do more work.

In the just-passed third quarter, 16% reported a high willingness to do more than their assigned duties. In the third quarter of 2013, the number was 20%. Looked at another way, one out of five of a company's hardest working employees is no longer working as hard as they used to or putting in additional effort.

There are a few reasons for the development, Brian Kropp, Gartner’s HR practice leader, told FierceCEO.

They include people being quite confident about the economy and job availability.

Also, “promotions have become a lot harder to come by,” so employees are not motivated, Kropp said.

Raises “are pretty small, so it’s not worth it” to put out the extra effort, Kropp said. “And unemployment is low, so people aren’t worried about losing their jobs or layoffs. Also, things outside of work have become more important.”

The lack of motivation “is of course problematic for organizations, but also likely explains a significant part of the productivity drag we're seeing in several economies," Kropp said.

Employers must act

With more employees decreasing their levels of effort while staying in their current roles, employers must take steps to ensure that they maintain productivity and the bottom line, Kropp said. He recommended company leaders do the following:

  • Understand the specifics of the situation at your organization. Are employees putting in less effort? What is the extent of the problem and the consequences for the company?
  • Help engage and train managers. Direct supervisors must learn how to coach employees in a way that improves performance in order to turn around this negative trend.
  • Consider other methods. Organizations also need to leverage team members to generate peer-to-peer strategies for coaching and recognition.

"To counter the complacency employees are demonstrating in their careers, organizations will need to find ways to incentivize employees and help them stay motivated," Kropp said.