top of page

Overeducated & Demotivated

HR is fighting invisible elements and they don't even know it. There are millions of things that demotivate employees and they have little control over it.

They face a population that was programmed to think that work is bad and that they need to hate it. Work is actually good for us psychologically speaking and I truly believe (my observation) that if people were taught a different narrative about work we all would have a better life. But the narrative is this:

Work sucks, it is forced upon us, it is a trade-off of your time, and you have to suffer through it and put up with it. As an employee, you have no other choice but to fight back and figure out how to tolerate it instead of how to enjoy it or at least look at work differently.

This is a massive cause of the problem organisations are facing today and I am not sure they have the capacity to address it.

Another reason employees are demotivated is because we have overeducated the population but most jobs are still repetitive and boring or simply don't require education.

We have a large population with university degrees and organisations ask them to do jobs like analyst, admin, service industry roles, management of anything or just being a head of department.

I watched hundreds of hospitality interns from those very expensive hospitality universities wanting to be a manager during their first internship saying "I will not carry the luggage because I will have a master's degree." Do I agree with the fact that the hotel industry requires no formal education? Absolutely! Unless you are in HR, IT, Engineering or Finance. Do I agree with the attitude? NO!

But understanding this is easy if we look at it not from the silly engagement narrative but from the motivational point of view. The equity theory of motivation quickly knocks on your door to make you understand that employees want the reward they get from the organisation to be fair in relation to the contribution they had (input vs output).

So, if their input is years of studying the reward (job) cannot be a silly job that requires no studying. It doesn't balance. They experience unfairness and get demotivated immediately and no HR program will ever compensate for it. Promotion will offer temporary help but eventually, that too will wear off.

The foundation of workplace motivation is in the equity theory and if pay attention you can see that theory showing up every hour of every day in every workplace from how much attention people get from their managers all the way to pay and promotion.

Hire people for jobs that match their level of education. If the role doesn't require any don't ask for it because you will create demotivation. And if the role requires education but you don't ask for it you create incompetence and demotivation in others who have the qualification and know that the other should have it too. Pair that with paying the same salary or promoting the person to a higher role and there you have it. Demotivation and another part of the theory kick in "If they identify inequities in the input or output ratios of themselves and their referent group, they will seek to lower their input to reach their perceived equity."

That is why I say, leave the silly engagement narrative in the rubbish bin of the past and change it to motivation. You will have greater success with managing the workforce.

If you want to learn about other corporate practices that you need to rethink here it is:

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page