COVID-19: Young people suffer most from lack of motivation at work

If you want to hear more from Adrian on this topic, you can watch the webinar on-demand.


London –  44% of employees under 35 years old say that a lack of motivation has been hindering their performance at work since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in March, according to new research by management consultancy Lane4.

The study of over 1000 GB employees, carried out by YouGov, reveals that the performance of younger workers (under 35 years old) is twice as likely to be impacted by a lack of motivation than that of 45-54-year olds (22%), and significantly more likely to be impacted by a lack of motivation than the average for all age groups (28%).

Adrian Moorhouse, Lane4’s Managing Director commented: “It’s crucial that these findings are not misconstrued as the latest ‘evidence’ in support of the long standing – and deeply flawed – ‘lazy millennial’ stereotype. The pandemic has impacted us all, but an increasing number of studies show that younger workers have been some of the hardest hit when it comes to furlough and lockdown loneliness, both of which affect motivation.

“There’s a lot of research into the psychology of motivation and what drives it. When considering these drivers, such as belonging and autonomy, in the context of remote working, it’s clear that young people may be disproportionately affected. We know, for example, that there can be a natural tendency during times of crisis for leadership and management teams to become very task focused and take on more responsibilities themselves. This can impact the sense of autonomy, and as a result motivation, of their often-younger colleagues.”

Some of the other factors impacting the performance of all workers in the current climate, include distractions from working at home (21%) and a lack of connection or communication to colleagues within (19%) and outside (14%) of people’s team. Distractions from working at home were most likely to impact those between the ages of 35 and 44 (30%). Whereas a lack of connection to colleagues within their team is most likely to impact the performance of people under 35 (26%).

The fact that a lack of connection is also having its toll on performance at work isn’t surprising. People are now speaking to fewer colleagues than prior to the coronavirus crisis; on an average day before the pandemic, over half of employees (56%) had face-to-face or virtual conversations of at least five minutes with three or more colleagues. Since the pandemic that number has dropped to 37%.

Interestingly, well over half (70%) of under 35-year olds think that encouraging better communication is the best way for organisations to establish trust between managers and employees. Highlighting the importance of effective communication in a work context.

Moorhouse continued: “It’s understandable that in the early days of the pandemic a lot of organisational focus went towards keeping the lights on and implementing technologies to enable people to work remotely. But attention now needs to turn towards the behaviours that are crucial to enabling people to perform their best in the new world of work. The good news is that motivation and connection can be enhanced. We know that one of the most effective ways to do this is through managers. Because they speak to their team consistently, managers are in a unique position to understand and enhance the different factors impacting the performance of their individual team members.

“But as there’s no guidebook on how to deal with the changes brought about by COVID-19, managers need help understanding how motivation impacts their teams in different ways and how they can support them in the context of hybrid working. In an environment where change seems to be the only constant, it’s crucial that organisations provide managers with the support they need to drive their team’s performance.”


About the research

Total sample size was 1324 GB employees. Fieldwork was undertaken by YouGov in September 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of All British business sizes.


Featured in: