You Don’t Want to go to Work, neither do Your Employees


I have woken up many times and thought, “I really don’t want to go to work today,” and I’m pretty sure that I am not alone.

According to a Gallup Poll conducted in January 2016, only 32% of the U.S. workforce enjoys going to work and actually has an emotional commitment to their job. That’s a pretty low number.

What this could mean for your business is that if you employ 10 employees, it’s possible that 3 of them enjoy going to work and care about the job they are doing. To look at it another way, this means that 7 of your employees – the majority – really don’t care about their job, the organization, or any goals that are in place.

If a supervisor feels the same way – that they don’t want to go to work and when there are not really emotionally invested – then something is seriously wrong.

What causes this lack of engagement at work? But more importantly, what could be happening at work that makes people not want to go?

There are a few things:

Lack of autonomy

I have worked in a few situations that felt like my life, and my job, were not my own. Instead, I had someone checking up on me, either through phone calls or coming into my office, making sure that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.  This created a lot of stress for me, but what it also did was make me so nervous about what I was doing, that I just didn’t want to do it anymore.

Autonomy in a job is important. All employees should be allowed to work the way that they work. When employees are left along, rather than being micromanaged, they become more efficient, productive, and they enjoy their jobs a lot more. This means that they are more likely to be engaged and motivated at work.

Job insecurity

Being employed by a company that is downsizing or has strict, and long, probationary periods can lead to job insecurity. I have experienced both of these.

Not only does job insecurity cause stress, because the employee doesn’t know when they’re getting the sack, but it also decreases motivation and causes the employee to start job hunting – sometimes on the clock.

Not being challenged

I enjoy a good challenge, but what’s more, if I am not challenged I get bored. Boredom can lead to lack of engagement or wondering if the work being done really matters. If it is menial work and the employee is highly educated, an employer might expect boredom, lack of engagement, and even the employee quitting their job.

Sometimes motivation to do work goes beyond what the employee is getting paid. Most employees want to learn, grow, and feel that their contributions are important.


Being overworked can lead to burnout, which leads to lack of engagement and employee turnover.

When organizations don’t have enough resources, such as people, equipment, or supplies to get the job done, this causes a lot of stress for all employees. Employees are then left trying to figure out how to do their job effectively when they don’t have the resources necessary to do it.

Poor communication

Communication has a huge impact on employee motivation, engagement, and overall job satisfaction.

While working for a governmental organization I learned exactly how important communication was. It seemed as though everything was kept close to the vest. No one wanted to divulge any changes that were being made or how any decisions would impact anyone. But on top of that, there was no clear direction on what jobs actually entailed, or what each employee was supposed to be doing.

This created a lot of stress for employees because they didn’t know if their jobs were secure. It also created a sense of doom when going to work. No one really knew what was expected of them, what they were supposed to do, or if they were going to step on someone’s toes.

How can organizations improve employee engagement and motivation?

Effective and open communication

Communication is probably the main factor that organizations can improve to help increase employee motivation and engagement. In fact, if organizations trained all their employees to communicate effectively, many different changes would be seen:

  • Job insecurity may decrease because employees would basically know what the plan is
  • Employees could speak with supervisors about wanting to be more challenged
  • Job roles would be better defined
  • Employees and supervisors could receive feedback concerning their performance
  • Resources needed could be discussed and possibly acquired
  • Stress would be reduced because information would flow more easily

Developing and implementing effective and open communication in an organization might seem difficult, but training is available on how to do this. Each organization is different and tailoring the communication needs to your organization is of the utmost importance.

Allow autonomy

This might be really difficult for any micromanager, but anyone who is a micromanager has serious problems of their own. Being a micromanager basically means that no one else can do the job the same way and that there is a disbelief that their work will be good. It basically amounts to the micromanager not having trust, having control issues, and being arrogant to believe that only their way is the best way.

When an employee is given autonomy a lot of things could change.

  • Employees are more innovative
  • Job performance increases
  • Job satisfaction and workplace satisfaction increase

Autonomy is important for everyone, but in the workplace it is the difference between wanting to go to work and not wanting to go, or between being engaged or not being engaged. Ultimately, autonomy has a huge impact on how an employee performs, and therefore on the business’s bottom line.

Allowing autonomy means that the organization allows employees to work in ways that they work best. Sometimes, and in certain situations, this can mean having a flexible schedule, allowing work out of the office, or allowing office space to be to the employee’s preference.

When this isn’t possible, allowing autonomy means allowing the employee to do work, without telling them how to do it, but instead providing feedback about how well they did.

Making small changes can really impact an organization, including and whether or not employees want to go to work and are engaged while there. Remember that if supervisors don’t want to go to work, there is a huge likelihood that neither do their employees. Change that. Make changes so that work is enjoyable for everyone. Doing this will not only increase employee well-being but will also help increase organizational productivity and efficiency.


About Author

Margaret Murrow

Margaret obtained her M.S. in Organizational Psychology and Nonprofit Management in 2014 after spending a decade focused on homeschooling her four children. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Psychology and has earned a certification in stress management coaching. When she is not studying, she spends time working as a freelance writer and a certified stress management and business coach for employers around the world.