Looking for easy ways to motivate lazy employees? We have gathered all our health and wellbeing knowledge and experience into this quick guide.

Everyone has off days, or days when they are less productive than others. We can’t expect everyone to be 100% productive 100% of the time.

But sometimes there are people who regularly and consistently contribute less than others, and less than they should. That can demoralise to the whole team and damage your bottom line.

However, oftentimes when a previously productive employee starts missing deadlines and slacking off, it is indicative something else is wrong.

Perhaps it is personal issues, maybe they aren’t gelling with your management style, or perhaps they feel demotivated.

It is your job as their manager or HR representative to get to the bottom of it. After all, you can’t fix it if you don’t know the cause of it.

So, the first step towards motivating lazy employees is to, of course….


1) Talk to them

two people having a conversation to support blog by Wellspace on ways to motivate lazy employeesPerhaps they don’t realise they are being unproductive? Or maybe there is a reason for it. Either way, the first thing to do is have a frank and open conversation with them about their productivity.

Make sure you can back it up with evidence and figures, so you aren’t making baseless accusations and demoralising them.

If you have the Wellspace corporate wellness solution you can look on The Portal and see their mental wellbeing data too. This will allow you to see if your employee is feeling stressed, anxious, or worried, which will allow you to tailor your approach.

In the spirit of being frank and open, the problem could always be you or one of your colleagues, so make sure you document the conversation and have a third party in the room if you need. If a grievance or disciplinary comes from it, you will need evidence the conversation has happened and that you acted with integrity.

If you are the problem, try not to be defensive or confrontational. After all, you are all working towards the same goal of success for the business and you will only achieve that by remaining professional and objective.

An open conversation is the best place to start.

If they are demotivated, poorly managed, or lacking direction it will give them the opportunity to form a plan with you.

If they are genuinely lazy and taking you for a ride it will let them know you are on to them.


2) Play to their strengths


One of the easiest ways to motivate lazy employees is to play to their strengths.

We can’t all be good at everything and that means some tasks take longer than others. It is possible that your employee is less productive because they are doing tasks that they aren’t brilliant at and it is therefore taking them longer.

Giving them some tasks that they are great at will get the most out of them and improve their productivity and boost their confidence.

On the other hand, if they are feeling demotivated or lazy, giving them something they love doing might jolt them out of it, renew their passion for the job and provide them with job satisfaction.

image of person at a drill to illustrate blog by Wellspace on motivating lazy employees3) Incentivise with KPIs and bonuses


Money talks! And it is an effective way of motivating a lazy employee in the short term.

Set realistic targets that still have an element of challenge to them and you might find that your unproductive employee suddenly starts exceeding expectations.

However, if there are underlying causes for your employee not achieving their targets, such as personal issues, an unhappy work environment, or a lack of training you might find it only worsens the problem as the stress piles on.


4) Set clear targets and check progress


Setting targets can really help motivate lazy employees to achieve more.

Whether you incentivise your staff or not, targets and expectations should be clear, and clearly communicated. You shouldn’t just expect your employees to know instinctively what productivity looks like.

Some people can’t manage their time very well and need a helping hand. Some work better with deadlines, and targets.

Be sure you negotiate the deadlines and targets with your colleagues, so it underlines the fact you are all working towards the same goal.

image of busy desk to illustrate blog by Wellspace on ways to motivate lazy employees5) Offer training and progression


You might find out during step 1 that your staff aren’t lazy at all but lack the skills necessary to do their job well. Or they might be demotivated because they feel like there is no point doing a good job as there is no progression.

More and more employees now state job satisfaction and progression as one of the key driving factors of their careers. Proper training and progression opportunities are a brilliant way of achieving that.

Even if you can’t promote up, giving more or different responsibilities or a different job title allows staff to progress within their role and can reignite their passion for the job.


Expert Health and Wellbeing Advice


By putting in a bit of effort it can be possible to motivate a lazy employee or one who has just lost their reason for being at work.

Here at Wellspace we are experts at corporate health and wellbeing. If you would like more advice or to speak about our well-rounded corporate wellbeing programme give us a call on 0808 178 0748 or email info@yourwellspace.co.uk and one of our team of experts would be happy to speak to you.