One of the most frustrating aspects of any work environment is working with someone who doesn’t appear to be committed to the work or the company. It’s disheartening when you’re toiling away on a project and your cubicle mate is focused on personal calls or social media — or putting forth minimal effort just to get the work done. Even if you aren’t a leader or manager, though, you can motivate your co-workers to perform their best.

Set an Example

Perhaps the best way to motivate your co-workers is to set a positive example. Approaching your work with a positive attitude and completing all of your tasks as diligently as possible inspires your co-workers to do the same — especially if they see you receiving praise, rewards or special assignments due to your job commitment. Competition is a powerful motivator: If you regularly receive bonuses or more high-profile projects, your co-workers may want to imitate you to reap the same benefits.

Build Friendships

Although maintaining professional relationships at work is important, that doesn’t mean that you can’t develop more informal relationships, or even friendships, at work. When your co-workers know you as a person — not just as the accountant in the adjoining office — they may be more likely to put forth extra effort in their job so they don’t damage the relationship. Cultivating work friendships also makes the work environment more pleasant: Having someone to share a joke or story with or have lunch with on occasion helps you feel more satisfied with your work and motivated to do well.

Ask for Help

Employees often lose motivation because they’re bored or don’t feel challenged by their work. Although you may not be able to change someone’s job description or adjust their tasks, help them feel more motivated by asking for their input and expertise. Going to your co-workers with a question or asking for their thoughts on a solution to a problem might be the spark they need to reengage with their work. In fact, your informal question or request for help might give your co-worker a chance to shine, leading to more exciting projects or work.


One reason that employees may feel unmotivated at work is that they feel their ideas and insights go unnoticed by their co-workers and management. Prevent that problem by being a compassionate listener and serving as a sounding board for your co-workers. This doesn’t mean that you should encourage co-workers to line up outside your door to spill their innermost thoughts — instead, work with others to come up with creative ideas and solutions. When you support a co-worker’s ideas, communicate that support and encourage others to do the same. Sometimes all it takes to stay motivated is knowing that you have an ally. You can fill that role for an unmotivated co-worker.


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